Tracey Gordon-Russell, 43, from Leeds, went from being a comfort eater to a fearless biker chick after losing 9 stone in nine months on the programme. Here, she explains how the programme changed her mind, as well as her body.
LighterLife: How long had you struggled with your weight before LighterLife?
Tracey: My weight has been an issue for most of my life. I was rewarded with sweets, comforted with fat-laden meals and cheered up with chocolate and crisps. Throughout my 20s and 30s I tried multiple diets and seemed to be very successful at losing the weight. I enjoyed the compliments I got as I was losing the weight. The only problem was the way I thought about food. I was very much stuck in my ways and bad habits kept creeping up on me, and I’d always put the weight back on. I ended up at 22 stone at my heaviest. At 5’7”, I was a size 32 and wore black leggings, the huge baggy tent-like tops and only shoes that could keep my feet comfortable.
LighterLife: What made you decide to start LighterLife?
Tracey: In 2011, having just lost 2 stone on yet another diet but knowing that I would soon falter, I met a woman who was on LighterLife. She told me she’d lost 3 stone in nine weeks and I was intrigued. I went to an initial consultation and it was different to other groups I’d been to. Our counsellor Elizabeth actually wanted to see me on my own and find out about my issues. It all seemed so organised and professional and Elizabeth made me feel so confident that I could do it, even at my huge size. She explained how it worked, pulled no punches that it would be hard, but it was mind over matter and if I was ready to lose the weight once and for all, this would be a good way to do it.
The cost was an issue I had to think about, it seemed expensive, but then I thought about my weekly food bill. With the sweets, crisps and takeaways I had every week, my food bill was way over what the programme cost. It turned out I actually saved money whilst on LighterLife! Not visiting the supermarket or going to fast food restaurants and ordering takeaways made a big difference.
LighterLife: What’s your favourite thing so far about your LighterLife experience?
Tracey: Attending the classes was so different from the other classes I’d attended. To speak to women who had been through the same experiences as me with their weight was eye-opening, I wasn’t alone. Every time I had a wobble in the diet, going to the classes boosted me so much for the following week. Talking to the other women and seeing them getting smaller was so encouraging.
Elizabeth would counsel us every week, ask us all individually how we were coping and then again in the group. That was brilliant because I knew that if I had something personal to tell her, I could without the rest of the group there.
LighterLife: What keeps you motivated?
Tracey: Elizabeth said it was good to have a goal. I knew what mine was already. I’d bought a motorbike in 2008 and I wore a huge jacket whilst I was on it. It wasn’t leather or a proper biker jacket and I was bursting out of it, so I’d bought a proper biker jacket, a men’s jacket in size XXXL, which I couldn’t fit into at the time I’d bought it. My first goal was to fit into it. At the time I started the thought of being able to fit into that jacket was so exciting. As it was, I got into that jacket at the beginning of April. I can’t describe how thrilled I was to get that zip done up! By May, the jacket was too big for me so I bought an even better one – black leather, slim line and waist height. I felt great wearing it and was so proud of myself.
LighterLife: What’s been your biggest challenge so far on your weight loss journey?
Tracey: With me being a habitual eater, the biggest change for me was not having to think about food. I found I had so much time on my hands – not visiting the supermarket, not going out for meals, not sitting in front of the TV every night eating – I had to find other things to do instead. But what a liberation for me! I felt like a new door was opening in my life at last. I was 42 and had been big most of my life. This was a chance for a new life, to be normal for once – to blend in and not be the biggest person in the room.
LighterLife: Have you seen any health benefits since starting LighterLife?
Tracey: I’m healthier than I’ve ever been in my life. I had a health check before the programme and the doctor told me I had a 20% chance of having a heart attack, stroke, diabetes, varicose veins and loads of other weight related issues. I went back after I’d lost the weight and that chance is now down to 0.2%. I need no more incentive than that to keep the weight off. I’ve added years to my life, not to mention quality.
LighterLife: If you could give one piece of advice to other members, what would it be?
Tracey: I would advise anyone starting out on Lighterlife or struggling halfway through to think about where you’ll be in six months if you follow the plan. Then think about where you’ll be in six months time if you give up. For me, that time was small compared to 20 years of being fat, unhealthy and hiding from life. It seems a long time when you’re on the plan, but such a short time when you look back at it.
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