THE death of her great grandmother prompted Nicola Barker to put her life into perspective.
The 23-year-old had battled with her weight for many years and by the age of 16 she was sporting size 18 clothes.
“In 2009 my great grandma died and that was like the first real loss I had ever had. She was 92,” says Nicola.
“But it just put life into perspective.”
Nicola’s daughter Paige, now two, was only six weeks old when Nicola’s great grandmother, Florence, died but Nicola is proud of the fact the pair got the opportunity to meet, if only briefly, and she treasures the photo taken of them both together.
But the loss led Nicola to comfort eat and she became trapped in a vicious circle, as she recalls: “I was comfort eating because I was so unhappy because of how I looked and unhappy because I had eaten it.”
Returning to work following her maternity leave forced Nicola, from Ravenscliffe Avenue, Bradford, to take stock of the situation. “I went to get some new work trousers and a size 22 didn’t fit. I had to buy a size 24 and that was my turning point.
“I wanted the ground to swallow me up. It was horrible and I was gutted because you don’t realise. I used to look in the mirror and thought I looked great.”
Nicola was already familiar with Slimming World and decided to join the session at Idle Baptist Church in 2012. “I was really nervous when I walked through the door. I didn’t want people to judge me, I didn’t want everybody to know how much I weighed. When I got on the scales I thought ‘what have I done’ but I knew I was in safe hands. I knew I was in the right place.”
Her weight on joining the group was 19st 4lb and she was wearing size 24 clothing but inspired by her fellow slimmers and the determination to stick to her new healthy eating regime led Nicola to achieve a relatively rapid weight loss.
“It was really, really easy. It was very straight forward and I didn’t have to cut anything out. I still have a treat, I can still have chocolate without feeling guilty for eating it and I can still go out and still eat out as a family.”
Nicola says through her experience she has also been encouraged to get back into the kitchen and prepare meals from scratch again instead of relying what is in the freezer.
“It was great to be back in there doing it,” she says.
“When I started I didn’t have an end target in mind, I just knew I wanted to lose two stone,” says Nicola, referring to the weight she was before she became pregnant.
“But I thought I would see what happened when I got there.”
Within eight weeks Nicola had lost two stone. “I said this is not a diet, this is me changing my life for the rest of my life.”
Subtle changes such as cooking with low fat ingredients, switching from sugar to sweetener in drinks and using semi-skimmed instead of full-fat milk, helped Nicola to achieve her slimming success.
“There is always an alternative, a healthier way of cooking,” explains Nicola.
She soon felt the physical benefits too. “I could not walk without panting and puffing and getting all hot and sweaty.
“Trying to push my daughter in her pram was a nightmare. I didn’t want to go out walking because I felt people would look at me. I knew I needed to do something about it. In the first week when I lost seven and a half pounds I could not believe it,” recalls Nicola.
Seeing the results boosted Nicola’s confidence. Sixteen months later she had lost 10st 11lb. “Eight and a half stone was my final target. I took it like half a stone at a time,” says Nicola.
“My Dad was getting married and I wanted to lose four stone for his wedding but by then I had lost six stone.
“He went out and bought a dress and he got me some new shoes. I felt like a million dollars.”
Inspired by her own slimming success, Nicola, who clinched the Woman of the Year title earning her a place in the regional finals, is now keen to pass on the benefits to others. Encouraged by her partner, Nicholas, she has now becoming a Slimming World consultant running classes at Idle Baptist Church, Bradford Road, Idle, at 3.30, 5.30pm and 7.30pm.
“Anybody can do it. You have to be in the right mind and you have to do it for yourself and nobody else. I realised life is too short to be unhappy.”
For more information, email email@example.com.