Following Christmas, and the inevitable eating to excess, come thoughts of making the New Year, a time to finally lose a little bit of weight and feel healthier.
One woman who did just that two years ago and hasn’t looked back since is Annette Howard from Hemel Hempstead. Annette, 46, signed up for our Biggest Loser challenge just under two years ago and it has completely changed her life and her attitude to food and exercise.
Annette, a Marine Data Subject Matter Expert for BP in Hemel, explains, “Two Christmases ago I had an office Christmas party to go to which I was really excited about. I spent a while thinking what to wear but decided to save money and not buy a new dress, instead choosing a lovely one in the wardrobe that I’d only worn once before.
“When I put it on, on the evening, I found it only just fitted me. I struggled to zip up the size 20 dress. I’d had my hair done in a glamorous style at the hairdressers but, in reality, I just felt fat and uncomfortable in my outfit. I went to the party and tried to put on a ‘happy face’ but I didn’t enjoy the party and wished I’d stayed at home.
“Christmas came and I continued to help myself to the usual big roast dinners, Christmas pudding, mince pies, plenty of alcohol, sweets and all the other Christmas treats whilst not really doing any meaningful exercise. I gained even more weight and couldn’t see a way out of the situation I was in and felt overweight and depressed.
“As the New Year approached, I was thinking about joining a slimming club as I had done most Januarys before, but then a poster for the Hospice’s Biggest Loser competition caught my eye!
It said, ‘New Year, New You, transform your lives and those of patients at your local Hospice.
“My dad had had a brief stay at the hospice a while back in 2005. He was only there a short time but the care he received was excellent, as was the support for me and mum and sister after he died from the bereavement care team. It felt right to be giving something back to the staff by doing the Biggest Loser challenge, so, with nothing to lose, I entered!”
Annette took part in the 12 week challenge which included free Sportspace, Hemel Hempstead membership, personal training sessions and group exercise classes, a personalised nutrition plan and weekly motivational weigh-ins.
Annette continues, “The challenge seemed daunting but it was life-changing. Unlike other diet plans I’d followed before, the support I received from the Hospice and the Sportspace team, and the encouragement from the fellow participants really helped me through. In addition, knowing I was doing the challenge to raise money for the Hospice made me reluctant to give-up even when all I wanted to do was sit on the sofa and reach for the biscuits!”
In total, Annette lost 34llbs and 15% of her body weight in 12 weeks, coming third in the challenge and raising over £1k in total for the Hospice. However, the life changing experience didn’t stop there.
Annette concludes, “Unlike other diets I’ve done where I’ve lost weight only to go and put it all back on again a few weeks later, after the Biggest Loser I’ve kept it off and kept on going. I’ve lost nearly 5 stone in total since starting the challenge and have gone from a dress size of 20/22 to a 12! In addition, my attitude to health and fitness has completely changed.
“I’ve continued to follow the eating plan, maintained my weight lost and my mantra is all about ‘being fitter & healthier and it’s not about ‘diet and deprivation’. I now do two classes a week and attend a running club and my weekends are spent doing a Parkrun or a race. I’ve even done two half marathons!
“I NEVER thought I’d be a runner but running has given me a whole new interest and outlook and is keeping me motivated, especially doing timed events. My life has completely changed in that I’ve met loads of fabulous new people and I love the regular sense of achievement. It was a Win Win doing the Biggest Loser, a win for me, and a win for the Hospice! I’d urge anyone in a similar situation to me to give it a try.”
We are searching for candidates for its 2016 Biggest Loser challenge which will start in February. The sponsored weight-loss and fitness challenge is open to all and includes free 12 weeks Sportspace membership, free classes and motivational weekly weigh-ins, six free personal training sessions and a free nutritional workshop. Everyone that enters needs to raise £500 to fund care for patients, and their families, being looked after at the Hospice.
Nicky Maxwell-Braithwaite, Event Organiser, adds, “Annette has been a real success story of our Biggest Loser challenge but she is not the only one. Since we started Biggest Loser, five years ago many local people have been helped to lose weight and change their attitude to food and exercise by entering the event. For those that are interested in entering but are worried about the fundraising aspect, don’t be. Our team here will guide you through and we always find that the fundraising aspect of the challenge is one of the main drivers for those who enter!”
Elise Hyslop, Marketing Director, at Sportspace, Hemel Hempstead, adds, “Our team of PTs derive such personal satisfaction from helping the Hospice’s Biggest Loser group on their annual weight loss challenge. We’re here to guide the group and recommend achievable exercise plans, as well as introduce the equipment to them, many of whom have never set foot in a gym before. It is so rewarding for us to help the individuals achieve fitness goals and the transformation after 12 weeks is astonishing.”
Anyone interesting in entering can find out more at www.stfrancis.org.uk/biggestloser or for a confidential chat, call Nicky on 01442 869555. All entries for the Biggest Loser 2016 need to be received by 14 January 2016.