Leyland mum-of-three Claire Entwistle has lost 12 stone since last year – dropping 20 dress sizes and finding new joy in her job – even though she says she was “happy being fat”.
The 45-year-old who used to sneak a McDonalds on her way home from work in Lytham before her evening meal now only eats natural, unprocessed foods, and claims anyone can do it with no big realisation or epiphany moment.
She said: “This is not a sob story. I’ve always been happy. Happy being fat and happy now.
“Being fat there were things I couldn’t do. But the nearest I came to being down was lying in bed and thinking ‘If I woke up tomorrow a size 10, wouldn’t that be great?
“But I was carrying so much worry before and I didn’t realise it.
“If we were going out for a meal I’d ring ahead to the restaurant and check they had a chair suitable for me. I’d be worried about it supporting my weight. Or if we were flying somewhere I’d ring the airline to check there’d be a suitable seat belt fastener.
“I don’t want to patronise anybody, and I’m quite defensive about fat people, but you may think you’re happy, but there will be things you don’t realise you’re doing.
“I’ve always been quite confident, but at the back of my mind, I was always thinking that people were going to point out the fat lady”.
It was in March 2019 that Claire decided to join her local Slimming World group in Midge Hall, near Leyland, simply because she knew she was overweight.
She said: “When I started it I thought it was not going to be for me, but in the first week I lost 11lb and I fell in love with the women in my group. It became a social thing, every Wednesday I’d go and enjoy myself and the weight kept coming off.”
She started off wanting to lose five stone, then went for eight, 10 and has now achieved 12.
Her weight loss success has meant that she got to the final 10 of slimmer’s across the entire country for Slimming World and has been crowned Central Lancashire’s Woman of the Year.
She said: “Nobody noticed till I’d lost 10 stone. A rep came into work when I’d lost eight stone and didn’t say anything. Then he came in a couple of months later when I’d lost 10 and he said ‘have you lost a bit of weight?’
“You just have to do it for you, nobody else, because they don’t notice!”
Claire says that dieting is a “selfish”, but something she wanted to do as “an investment in myself”.
She said: “As a teenager I was a size 12/14 and the weight gradually crept on. I just became the fat friend or the fat mum.
“When you grow up and have a family, you find yourself looking after everybody else.
“Everything goes to the children, but my kids are now 18, 19 and 13, so I’ve started taking back some time for me. Dieting is selfish – you can only do it for you.”
Claire said one of the things that upset her during her weight loss journey was when she when she went on a fairground ride earlier this year.
She said: “It was the first time I’d ever been able to get on a fairground ride with the kids. I didn’t realise I was missing out on these things at the time.”
She added: “You don’t have to be unhappy and fat, but this has transformed my life completely. It’s like a fog has been lifted.
“I thought I could do all of this stuff before, but now I feel that anything and everything is possible.
“I do 25,000 steps a day. I know that sounds crazy, but now I’m always the one who gets up first to do something, whereas before it was an effort to get up.”
She says the weight loss has also given her a new lease of life in her job as manager at Room, a woman’s clothing shop in Lytham.
She said: “I’ve worked all my life in retail and I love it.
“I run a shop and I do all the buying. I go to Italy a lot to do that and as soon as I walk in, they show me the plus-size clothing.
“I’ve always been confident dressing other women, but never myself.
“When the first lockdown happened and the shop was forced to close, we decided to take trade online, which meant showing clothes online on the Facebook page.
“Now every Wednesday we do a Facebook live and I modelling the items and describe how they feel like and how to wear them.
“I love it it. I could never have worn the clothes we sell beforehand. And now this has brought a new joy to my job.”
Claire’s diet now consists of natural foods with no additives. On the rare occasion she will eat pasta, but mainly potatoes or vegetables that are grown.
Breakfast – rarely had one
Lunch – would leave it till 2pm or 3pm then eat a sandwich from a bakery, plus a pasty, a doughnut and a full-sugar fizzy drink.
Way home – Claire would often go to McDonalds on her way home from work, eating not because she was hungry but “because it tasted nice and it became a habit”
Evening meal – a ‘normal’ food such as spaghetti bolognese but an “extreme” amount, which could feed two or three people.
Snack: A large chocolate bar
Breakfast: Cereal or boiled eggs
Lunch: Fruit throughout the day, black coffee, hot lemon water and diet fizzy drinks
Evening meal: Claire says she doesn’t like to plan meals but goes shopping most evenings for fruit, veg and meat that she fancies. A regular meal is salad with ham, eggs and cottage cheese.
Snack: Frozen grapes sprinkled with jelly powder.
Claire added: She said: “People are really proud of me, but it’s weird for them. Its been a gradual thing, but when they look back on pictures, they can’t believe it.
“One of my sisters finds it difficult because I look so different.
“But I just want people to know it’s entirely possible and it doesn’t need to happen because of a big life event. It can just be a choice one day and you will find out so much about yourself.”