When Mel Baker, 42, started LighterLife 11 years ago, she got so caught up in the euphoria of losing weight that she didn’t give herself the opportunity to find out what caused her to gain weight in the first place. Here, she tells us why she’s doing things differently now…
As a child I always had a healthy appetite. My dad was a butcher and we had allotments so I grew up with a hearty diet of meat and veg. It was only in my teens that I became conscious of my size and began dieting. I was aware that I was bigger than most of my friends.
I continued to yo-yo diet for the next 15 years but every time I started to feel good about my size I’d stop thinking about what I was eating and pile the pounds back on again.
It was only after the birth of my sons that my weight really started to affect my confidence. I returned to work after being at home for a number of years and couldn’t find any clothes to fit, or that I felt comfortable in.
The first time
I knew I wanted to lose the weight quickly so I joined LighterLife with a close friend from work. The pounds dropped off and I lost 7st. It was the first time in my whole life I’d been slim. I was high and felt like a teenager.
That was 11 years ago, in 2003, and I wish I could turn back time and tell my 31-year-old self what I know now. The truth is: losing weight is easy if your mind is in it – it’s keeping it off that’s difficult. I learned my lesson the hard way. Despite initially keeping the weight off for two years it gradually started to pile back on.
Eating was just something I did – a default mode. It was a mindless thing. If I was bored I’d automatically head to the kitchen and find something to pick at, regardless of whether I was hungry or not. The trouble was: I wasn’t consciously aware of what I was doing. It was only last year when I returned to LighterLife – after years of further yo-yo dieting – that the penny finally dropped for me.
Getting to know myself
This time round has been totally different. Rather than just focus on the weight loss, I’ve spent time getting to know myself in my LighterLife groups. I’ve learned that I can be a bitof a perfectionist. Now I know the world won’t fall apart if I don’t always get things done and that food won’t make me feel better.
I’ve never sought to be the centre of attention but I’m becoming more confident. I feel I can handle whatever life throws at me. I’m also learning to like the person I see in the mirror.
When I lost weight the first time I didn’t fully appreciate it. Now I don’t take my health for granted. Ten months on from reaching my goal weight I still regularly attend my Management groups. Not only do I now stop and think about what I’m eating and what I’m feeding my family, I also now understand the reasons why I was eating so much before. My yo-yo dieting days are behind me and I’m determined to keep my weight off for the long haul.