Success Story: Stella
Stella's Weight Loss Success Story

Having high blood pressure made Stella look at her weight. Hating the idea of weekly meetings, Stella has used WLR to get in touch with what she was eating and make changes to lose nearly 6st.

Success Story: Stella

Stella, Age 48, Height 5' 8"
Start Weight 18st 4lb
Current Weight 12st 10lb
Goal Weight 10st 7lb
Weight Lost 5st 8lb
Working to Rate of Loss 1½lb per week
Time Taken 7 months

Weight Loss History

I’ve not exactly been a serial dieter, and have avoided the more obvious options. I hated the idea of Weight Watchers or Slimming World or any other organisation that majored in meetings. I don’t do group activities, and I wasn’t about to start doing them just because I needed to lose weight.

"That said, I was an overweight child (weighing in at around 12 and a half stone when I was 11 years old)."

When my mother realised I was not going to grow any taller but was continuing to grow wider she gave in and hauled me to the doctor’s. The doctor did what any doctor in the 1960s or 70s would have done and put me on pills, presumably some sort of amphetamines, and I did lose weight on them.

I also started to swim train around the same time, but the weight crept back on after I stopped the tablets, not helped by my Father being the sort of man who could (and still can) eat anything and not put weight on. Him feeding me sugar sandwiches or chocolate sandwiches as a youngster really didn’t help much.

I did have a brief spell of losing weight successfully when I was in my final year at university, though I suspect I didn’t exactly do it healthily.

I lived on yogurt for breakfast, a can of soup for lunch and a two egg omelette for dinner (made with sweet corn and Edam cheese). It worked out around an average of 800 calories a day, I seem to recall. I also swam 5 days a week, cycling to and from the pool.

"When I left university I was at the lowest weight ever in my adult life, 9 stone 7 lbs, and could just squeeze into a size 10 if I didn’t mind not breathing."

Once I was out in the real world, I started to put the weight back on, and despite occasional desultory attempts to do something about it, which tended to get derailed by my own laziness, that’s pretty much how I continued for the next 26 years, steadily piling the weight on.

I was not helped by discovering I can cook and meeting my partner, a woman with as much of a love of Michelin-starred restaurants as my own! I also wasn’t helped by a 6.5 year spell in France, and a year and a half working in Brussels where the restaurants are truly amazing.

Have you lost weight before and regained the weight?

As I say, I lost a lot of weight as a child, then again as a student. I didn’t, however, tend to bother about my weight much once I went out to work. I made a couple of half-hearted attempts over the years, but my mindset wasn’t right and I gave up quite quickly each time.

How being overweight has affected you…

I can’t say my weight has ever stopped me doing anything I wanted to do, though I suspect it might have caused some people not to take me as seriously as I might like – I can’t say I really noticed though.

I worked for 10 years as an independent consultant all over Europe. I skied every year, went swimming when I thought about it, and generally carried on with my life in a normal manner, usually seeing myself as much thinner than I actually was.

I’d never been a “comfort” eater, or an emotional eater, and my relationship with food and drink was pretty uncomplicated really.

"I just loved good food, and good wine and consumed far too much of it."

Admittedly, buying clothes was getting more and more difficult as I steadily got bigger, and I seemed to be slowing down when I was working on the race tracks, but other than that, no problem really!

Motivation to Lose Weight

I started on this change of lifestyle initially because I moved back to the UK to work as a permanent member of staff instead of as an independent consultant for the first time in 10 years.

I found myself in a new area and had to get a new GP.

The surgery insists on a general check up for all new patients, and the practice nurse who conducted it didn’t like the look of my blood pressure. I can’t say I was keen either, with a figure of 163/103.

I had to make a series of monthly appointments to get checked again, and by December it was becoming clear that the reading was not a blip and it wasn’t “white-coat syndrome”. I had a serious problem. We talked about what I might do, and the nurse suggested that if I really didn’t want to be put on medication, I had to lose some weight. I wanted to get off to a flying start, and she offered to try me on Orlistat (Xenical).

I went away and gave the matter some thought over Christmas (aided by seeing some photos of me taken in July and over Christmas and being horrified by just how big I’d got).

In January, I went back to ask about the tablets. The nurse explained how they worked, gave me a pack, and sent me on my way with instructions to try and eat a healthy diet and come back in 4 weeks.

"12 months later and I’ve shed 30% of my original body weight. I go back for checkups once a month, but my blood pressure is now squarely in the normal zone."

I’m a little over a stone away from my ideal weight range and I’ve never felt better. I love being able to buy size 14 jeans, and I love the way my body is now; it seems to work really well, and I’ve rediscovered my hip-bones, to say nothing of my cheekbones!

Discovering Weight Loss Resources

Trying to find a way of checking what I was eating, I initially headed for Weight Watchers and the online version. It had worked for a friend, so I figured I’d nothing to lose.

I needed some way of figuring out healthy portion sizes, and didn’t want to do it without support. I found WW frustrating in many ways, though, most notably when it came to finding foods in their database and working out points. The information there seemed better suited to people who ate processed foods and ready meals, and that wasn’t me.

Since I’d made it back to the UK, I’d shopped at the local Farmers’ Market for meats and cheeses, and with an organic box scheme for all my fruit and vegetables. Meats like rabbit or pheasant simply didn’t seem to feature on WW and they wouldn’t let me eat all my exercise points!

In my frustration I did a search for an online calorie counter, found WLR and nosed about. I liked what I saw and signed up the same day.

How Weight Loss Resources Helps

"The site is incredibly useful in letting me know how much I’m actually consuming. And was that ever a shock to begin with!"

When I first started filling in the diaries, I was quite clearly, to quote a friend, “digging my grave with my own teeth.”

The site has been instrumental in teaching me what a sensible portion is and reminding me of the principles of good nutrition. However, I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that portion control was the thing that I needed to address urgently when I started here.

I love logging my exercise too, and seeing how that can allow me more calories.

As for the boards, I’ve learned such a lot from the other members about what works for weight loss, and what doesn’t.

The Best of Weight Loss Resources

I always look at the message boards, and try very hard to offer as much support as I can to other members in return to the support I have gained from them.

"It’s good to be able to talk about what I’m trying to do with people who are having the same struggles" 

... and it saves me driving my partner and my friends mad with boredom as I witter on about exercise calories and the like.

I use the Food Diary regardless of whether it’s been a good or bad day, and in fact find it’s more important to fill in the “bad” days, since they’re often nowhere near as bad as you think.

I also fill in the Exercise Diary so that I know where I am with eating my exercise calories.

In addition, I use the Recipe page to create my own recipes, and sometimes to search for ideas for dinner or lunch.

Stella's Tips for Losing Weight

  • Be scrupulously honest when filling in the diaries. If you don’t, the only person you are “cheating” is yourself. That way you will begin to see where you can make changes, and discover what works and what doesn’t.
  • Use the boards – don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t ask questions, you won’t learn anything. No one bites (well, mostly anyway) and there is a wealth of support out there for you. Use it. Enjoy it. Contribute to it when you can.

Here’s the advice I would give to any newcomer to WLR, or for that matter anyone wishing to lose weight, and that I wish someone had given me years ago.

  • Be in the right frame of mind. You have to want to do it, and you have to want to do it for you, not for anyone else, not your partner, your Mum or your best friend - you. If you try to do this and your mind and heart aren't in it, you'll probably give up.
  • There's no quick fix. You didn't put the weight on overnight; it isn't going to go away overnight. The only way to lose substantial amounts of weight overnight is to have body parts amputated! It's going to take time, but anything worth having is worth waiting for. To put it in perspective, if you lose 1lb a week, that's 52 lbs (nearly 4 stone) gone at the end of the year.
  • Be completely honest with yourself. Look at what you eat, and weigh things so you can count calories accurately. Keep a check on portions. For preference, throw out the processed food and make your own meals from scratch. It's cheaper than buying ready made, it doesn't need to take long, and you have control over the quality and the calorie content.
  • Eat all of your calorie allowance and AT LEAST half of any calories you gain through exercise. Don't think that by going waaaay under your allowance you'll lose weight faster. You won't. You'll go into starvation mode, your body will desperately cling to any fat reserves you have, and your weight loss will stop.
  • Drink lots of water, at least 2 litres a day - it's important to keep your body properly hydrated if you expect it to work properly. That way it will cope with the other changes you are making so much better.
  • Get active. Walk. Run. Swim. Whatever. You need to move more to burn off more calories. It doesn't matter what you look like in your kit. What matters is to get that body moving. No one else cares what you look like in the gym. They're not there to laugh and point or stare at you. They're too busy concentrating on their own fitness. If possible, vary what you do (I run, cycle, cross-train and swim these days). It doesn't matter which form of exercise you do; if you're not sweating, you're likely not working hard enough. The only exception to this is swimming, where the water in the pool counteracts the sweating. In that case, if you're not breathing hard at the end, you're not working hard enough. Commit to at least three 40-minute sessions if you can. Make it part of your regular schedule. If you aren't prepared to devote some time to you, maybe you need to look at your priorities.
  • This is not a "diet"; it's a change of behaviour. You don't have to give anything up (though I would recommend not eating processed food for all sorts of reasons apart from the amount of calories contained in it), but you almost certainly need to eat less of it. You also have to count it. I'm not about to give up Champagne or meals out, but I know that if I want to eat foie gras or duck or whatever, I have to do extra exercise to earn it, and I'll also plan for it.
  • Plan your day's eating in advance so you know you can stay inside your calorie allowance.
  • If you have a "bad" day and eat everything in sight, it's not the end of the world and it doesn't make YOU a bad person. It certainly doesn't negate all the good days that went before it (and you'd have to overeat by 3,500 calories over your maintenance level to put on 1lb), though it's also not a license to keep right on eating for England (or the country of your choice). Falling off the wagon once or twice is human. Using it as an excuse to do it again and again may suggest a lack of commitment on your part. You may want to re-assess whether you're really ready to lose weight.
  • Avoid setting date-related targets; they can set you up for failure if you don't hit them. To me it’s far better to set weight targets and then record when you hit them.
  • Don’t waste time on guilt or regrets. What you did is irrelevant. It’s what you do now that counts.

If you've struggled with your weight for years

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* Note: The success stories published on Weight Loss Resources are written by WLR members, past and present, telling their own stories in their own words. As you will see if you read more than one or two of them, everyone's story is different and they have reached their success from a variety of starting points and lost weight at varying rates. Individual results may vary.

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