Nicky Howitt, 41 from Darlington joined LighterLife in February 2013 weighing 10 stone 10lbs. She now weighs 8 stone 7lbs, and has been managing her weight for a number of weeks since meeting her goal. Nicky is now a LighterLife Centre Manager for Darlington, helping others to achieve their goals like she did.
LighterLife: What made you decide to start LighterLife?
Nicky: I had already lost nearly a stone and a half by myself but found that I’d become stuck at 10 stone 10lbs for a number of months. I knew there was something missing as I’d been very careful and yet it just wasn’t shifting. It was LighterLife that finally gave me the push I needed to reach my goal weight.
LighterLife: How did you become a LighterLife Centre Manager?
Nicky: I saw an advert for the position by chance and it just so happened to be around the time I was made redundant in December 2012. It just seemed like a great fit for me.
As Centre Manager, my job is to know everything there is to know about the programmes available to clients, who can have what, who can join which programme, the medical protocols, etc. I look after all of my clients, provide them with the knowledge they need before they join, whilst they’re on their journey and what to expect when they reach their goal. I’m very open about being on the programme myself and I find that we help each other. I’m able to tell the new starters exactly what to expect as I’ve done it myself.
LighterLife: What are the most common reasons for overeating that you’ve seen?
Nicky: The majority of my clients are carers in some form or other – they might be teachers, social workers, nurses, care nurses, or generally people who care for others first and put themselves last and have quite intense and stressful jobs. These all lead to bad eating habits such as skipping meals, having food on the go, eating out a lot when entertaining as part of their job role, eating late at night or relying on ready meals or takeaways. I also see a lot of parents and grandparents who put their families first, making sure everybody is cared for before themselves. Everybody knows what they’re doing is not good for them, but it’s become such a way of life for them that it’s now just normal and in most cases, they’re in denial. Something usually happens that triggers them into taking action before it gets too out of hand.
LighterLife: Are there any differences between men and women in their attitudes to food and how they approach the programme?
Nicky: Men generally just want to know if it works, how long it will take and then they have a ‘let’s get on and do it’ attitude. In contrast, women like to make sure they know everything, right down to the finer details before they do it, even though they’ve probably already decided that they are going to do it anyway.
When I ask my female clients why they want to lose weight, I get a whole list of reasons, but they’re rarely to do with their health. Most of the time it’s because they want to feel attractive – not just for their husbands or partners, but for themselves. They want to feel confident and empowered. They are very tuned into how others perceive them, but then they find it more of a struggle because they have many more triggers for overeating connected with this.
On the other hand, the men are generally less susceptible to this and once they’ve set their mind to doing it, they’ll just do it.
LighterLife: What’s your favourite thing so far about your LighterLife experience?
Nicky: My favourite thing so far about my experience is not just the weight loss, but being able to identify my triggers. This would never have been obvious to me before I did LighterLife. Normally I wouldn’t have thought about it, I would have satisfied that craving and eaten it, but I was so determined not to lapse on the programme that I persevered and resisted it. It was quite a proud moment for me.
Also, sharing my experience with other clients is amazing. Sharing tips and seeing others progress is priceless. LighterLife is my life, it’s my livelihood, my entire way of life – it’s hard work but it’s also satisfying and every day is a pleasure. I’m lucky.
LighterLife: What keeps you motivated?
Nicky: I’m a completely different person to who I was just six months ago. I don’t want to fail. I look at my ‘fat’ pictures when I feel I’m having a tough day and I remind myself that I spent months and years in denial thinking that I was okay, convincing myself I was happy being big and that it was other peoples’ problem if they didn’t like it. Deep down I was desperately miserable, but I was too stubborn to admit it. I don’t want to be that person anymore. I am who I am because I worked at it, it’s hard, there’s no denying it, but if you want something badly enough you don’t mind putting the effort in.
LighterLife: What’s been your biggest challenge so far on your weight loss journey?
Nicky: Oddly enough, the biggest challenge wasn’t from me – it was other people. People react very differently when you’re on full food abstinence. Some stop inviting you to things because you’re not eating conventional food or drinking alcohol, others encourage you to eat or drink, because they say you’re unsociable if you don’t, and then there are those who don’t want to know at all, either because they’re not interested or they’re jealous. Despite the challenges though, I wanted it so badly that I decided I wouldn’t let anything stop me.
LighterLife: If you could give one piece of advice to other members, what would it be?
Nicky: If you’re going to do LighterLife, do it for yourself, and not because you ‘have’ to, or for anyone else. You need to be 100% ready to commit to it. Once you’re fully engaged, you won’t let anything get in the way of your success and when you start to see the results, you’ll kick yourself for not doing it sooner. If I can do it, anyone can do it. Have faith. Have a goal. Be positive. Be committed.