A nasty fall on holiday was a wake up call for this super slimmer.
Living with a disability, Charcot Marie tooth disease (CMT) which causes lower muscle wastage, chronic pain and fatigue, Alison Mclean already uses a tri-walker and struggles to walk without it.
But returning from France in June 2019, where she injured herself and struggled to walk for a few weeks, really got her thinking.
“What will I do if I can’t get up off the floor?
“Who will be able to lift me?
“What if I end up in a wheelchair, who can push me?
“I was 50 in that March, 5ft 7 and weighed 16st 5lb, enough was enough,” Alison said.
Alison’s friend had joined Slimming World and was encouraging her to go along, but Alison thought it was “about cutting out everything and doing exercise” and as she struggles to walk without her tri-walker, she didn’t think the group would be for her.
But after the fall in France she knew she had to do something, so she searched online for groups in her area and found one just round the corner from her home in Seaton Carew with consultant Nicci.
“Best decision ever,” Alison said.
On joining the group she was asked to choose her target weight, which she wasn’t sure of.
All she wanted was to drop a few dress sizes and not be a burden if she fell or could no longer walk.
Alison’s disability will get worse in time, so it wasn’t specific fitness goals she was aiming for.
In almost two years, she dropped from a size 18 to a size 12 and lost 3st 12lb, something she never thought possible for a menopausal 51-year-old that had ongoing health issues and no exercise.
“Sometimes a number isn’t right for you, and this is what this group has taught me, it’s about how you think about food, how you feel in yourself, it’s finding out who you are.
“I was never into bad food or sweet stuff, I just didn’t enjoy food, but since joining Slimming World I’ve found my passion for cooking again, making meals from scratch, back to basics,” Alison said.
She now keeps her cupboards stocked with herbs, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and other ingredients to experiment with for new ideas.
“Sticky chicken, beef and prune stew, curries are a few of my favourites. Finding out that I could still enjoy the odd treat and not miss out on a take away was fantastic.
“I eat overnight oats with fruit for breakfast, eggs in many different ways, seafood for lunch and many a new idea for my evening meal,” Alison said.
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And for snacks she chooses healthy options from fruit and bars, as well as using her syn allowance for the odd treat.
She has enjoyed trying new recipes, and was pleased that she doesn’t have to miss out on creamy sauces.
One of her favourites is now chicken supreme, which she make using low-fat cream cheese.
For Burns Night in January she even made haggis and neeps for the first time, followed by cranachan, a traditional Scottish dessert.
Through changing the way she cooks and her determination since the summer of 2019, Alison has lost almost 4st, even though she admits those final few pounds have been tricky to get off.
“I don’t have a goal target, I just want to be a safer, lighter person if the worse happens.
“I feel I have another stone to lose, but I’m comfortable at 12.5st for now,” Alison said.
And through the support she has received in the group and from consultant Nicci, Alison is feeling more confident than she has in years.
“I’m finally learning that it isn’t about how others see you, it’s how you see yourself.
“It’s how you feel inside that matters.
“It’s taken a long time to say what I see in the mirror I like.
“Once you like what you see you feel better and healthier,” Alison added.
Alison knows the number on the scales isn’t the most important thing, and non-scale victories like fitting into an old pair of jeans is just as rewarding as her weight loss.
“I didn’t think I would enjoy it but I did actually.
“For years I shunned Slimming World, I used to think it was an excuse to take your money and tell you you’re fat, but it’s changed my mind,” Alison said.
With CMT, her doctors have told her that losing weight won’t help her condition, if anything she now has less fat protecting her muscle, but mentally she is feeling more confident.
“I’ve started wearing dresses, I never dreamed of wearing anything up to my knee,” Alison said, even choosing to wear tights now instead of leggings.
During lockdown, as Alison isn’t a huge fan of video calls, she hasn’t taken part in the Zoom meetings, but she still keeps in touch with the other members in the group’s Facebook page where they share recipes and ideas.
“You tend to dip in for that biscuit more, we’ve got scales at home but it’s not the same discipline at home,” Alison said, but the group is always there to offer support.
And she has stayed in touch with Nicci throughout the covid-19 pandemic with texts too.
Alison is feeling more confident, trying regular new recipes and has treated herself to a new wardrobe, as well as making new friends along the way.
She concluded: “You don’t get judged, there’s no slap on the wrist.
“You know where you’ve gone wrong and you can walk away and give your head a shake.
“The support is always there, everyone’s so encouraging.
“There’s no bad word, the support is amazing.”
If you are interested in learning more about Slimming World or joining contact Nicci on 07773 069410