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Hearts of gold: “My dogs have been my weight loss inspiration”

July 16 2019
Michelle Rawlins
By Michelle Rawlins

Welcome to the second in our inspirational series of weekly posts featuring Slimming World members whose weight loss helped them to help others. This week, Claire Thomas tells us how she lost over 70lbs* and went from struggling to walk her four-legged friends, to running charity marathons.

Hearts of gold: “My dogs have been my weight loss inspiration”

Exercising my two poodles, Beau and Louis, and my golden retriever, Oscar, used to be exhausting. Their daily walks got shorter and shorter, and while I was ready to sit down after 10 minutes, they’d barely got started. I loved them to bits, and felt so sad that my size was preventing me from keeping up with them.

Too tired to cook
It wasn’t something that had happened overnight—I’d struggled with my weight for years. Through my teens and into my 20s, after each restrictive fad diet, I’d turn to chocolate, chips and bags of candy for comfort. My battle with food escalated as I trained to be a lawyer. The stress of work and study meant I felt worn out a lot of the time, and at the end of a long day, my husband, Mark, and I would routinely share a two-course takeaway and a bottle of wine. Afterwards, I’d feel even less energetic and as I gradually gained weight, I started to dislike what I saw in the mirror.

Turning things around
For me, everything changed when I was told by my doctor that my body mass index was in the obese category. I felt dreadful, and later that night, cuddling up with Oscar, who always sensed when I was upset, I thought about all the fad diets that hadn’t worked for me. Surely there must be another way? Determined to make a fresh start, I joined Slimming World, and when I discovered how generous and flexible the Food Optimizing eating plan was, I decided to give it my all. I started following the plan straight away, enjoying a mushroom omelet for breakfast and a baked potato with home-made chili and salad for lunch. For dinner, I’d make a Slimming World lasagna and serve it with lots of veg. At the same time, I slowly increased my daily dog walks until I could do two or three miles without feeling out of breath.

Raring to go
Within seven months, I’d lost almost over 60lbs and, feeling much more energetic, I signed up to do a 5K charity race with the most agile of my dogs, Beau. As I jogged around the course with Beau bounding alongside, his endless enthusiasm spurred me on. Three weeks later, we entered a 10K race together, and we both loved every minute of it. Thinking of how much joy my dogs gave me, I decided that next time I’d raise money to give back to animals less lucky than my three—and it wasn’t long before I was running half-marathons for animal charities.

Filling up on healthy meals and exercising regularly, I gradually dropped down to my target weight, and since then I haven’t looked back. I love running races for charity and have completed marathons in Chicago and London (three times!). I’m also doing the Berlin and New York marathons later this year. For so long I felt like I was looking out of the window watching the world go by, but now it’s as if I’ve opened the front door—and I’m out there embracing life to the full!

Inspired? You’ll find lots more information and recipe ideas  on our website, plus details of Slimming World’s gentle, get-started activity plan, called Body Magic.

Or try our exclusive 7-day Food Optimizing menu plan  and start your own weight loss success story today.

If you’re planning to start a new exercise program, it’s always a good idea to check with your health care provider first—especially if you have an existing health condition, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or asthma.

*Your weight loss will vary according to your individual circumstances and the amount you have to lose.