A yo-yo dieter came out of lockdown four stone lighters with a waist 14 inches smaller – and looked so different her colleagues didn’t recognize her.
Claire Campbell-Andrews, 59, a mother of two who calls chocolate and cookies her “kryptonite” rose from 13.5 pounds to 9.4 pounds in 13 months after joining Slimming World in August 2019.
When she returned to work in September 2021 with a new size 10 hairstyle and clothes compared to the size 18 wardrobe she had before the pandemic, a colleague in the supply chain asked, “Claire, is that you?”
Claire, who lives near High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, with her husband George, 69, who has retired from IT in the banking sector, said, “That felt really fantastic knowing I am very different look.
“I cut my hair and while I don’t look like mutton disguised as a lamb, I can now wear figure-hugging clothing.”
Claire, whose children from a previous relationship, Lorna, 24 and Guy, 26, are both college students since they were 15 pounds, then became a mom on a mission.
She said, “When the lockdown started, I was really fine.
“I came to Slimming World when my brother got married, although that has now been postponed.
“I really didn’t want to be the fat one in the photo.”
She added, “My stepdaughter had twins and there is the most terrifying photo of me sitting and holding one and it looks like my stomach is eating the baby.
“I just couldn’t have that again!
“I also had severe weight gain after menopause.”
She added, “But a friend at work lost three stones to Slimming World and she’s older than me, so I thought if she could, I could too.
“But when the second pandemic lock hit, like most people, I got really depressed and struggled with everything – including my diet.
“I felt like I was mentally hanging on my fingernails.”
She added, “Then I made the decision to stay motivated, not wallow, and come out of lockdown as a winner!”
Claire is 5 feet 2.5 inches tall and was 13.5 pounds the heaviest and now weighs 9.4 pounds.
When the world opened up again, she couldn’t wait to replace her closet.
She said, “A friend of mine runs a popular clothing agency and she felt sorry for me when she saw that I was in desperate need of new clothes.
“Well, about a third of my wardrobe is loved now, which is actually awesome, because I can afford really nice things and do something for the planet.”
She added, “It feels great to know that I can go into any clothing store on High Street and slip on a size 10 instead of desperately looking for something in size 18.”
One of the ways Claire is keeping her weight is by not beating herself up when she’s having a “bad day.”
She said, “It’s only a day and I keep it in proportion.”
She added, “I don’t think, ‘That’s it, I failed, I’m off the diet now.
“I just see it as part of the journey and get back on track the next day.”
It’s a big breakthrough for an avowed dieter.
She said, “I was around 15 when I started dieting.
“I did everything, from the cabbage soup.
“But as much as I’ve lost, I’ve always put it on again.”
She added, “Then I realized that if I was to be healthy at 60, I had to commit to a better lifestyle.”
And once she lost the weight, every little bit of Claire got leaner.
She said, “I went down four ring sizes and had to take my engagement ring to change the size!”
She added, “Even some of my shoes are now like boats because my feet are slimmer.”
Before joining the slimming group, she skipped breakfast and instead indulged in a Danish pastry or candy and chocolate at work.
Then she ate french fries for lunch in the canteen.
When she got home she would have a gin and tonic before dinner, then a couple of glasses of wine with a carbohydrate and cheese wrapped dinner like lasagna.
During the day, she also dipped bourbon cookies or custard creams in her drinks and stuck herself in Galaxy candy bars.
She said, “Chocolate and cookies were my kryptonite!”
She added, “I will still have nice cheesy sauces, but all ingredients will be reduced in fat.
“Now I start my day with a coffee, but while it brews I weigh my milk money for the day.
“Then I eat porridge with a few berries and a dollop of Greek yogurt on top.”
She added, “Or my favorite is egg bread with cinnamon and forest fruits, with a dollop of yogurt and a little vanilla powder.
“Lunch is usually a salad or some kind of protein like chicken or smoked salmon with lots of vegetables like peas, beans and corn.
“And when I make pasta for dinner, I throw in lots of vegetables so they’ll fill me up without making me fat.”
She added, “But dinner will usually be protein, like chicken or pork. Whatever I have, a third of the meal consists of vegetables. I also have a much smaller percentage of carbohydrates, which is more like sweet potatoes or celeriac and mashed potatoes.
“Also, when I get hungry around 4.30pm, I eat a couple of little babybel cheeses with pickled onions instead of the pile of bourbon biscuits I used to eat.
“When I feel like sweets, I eat an apple – I usually eat two a day.”
Claire’s tremendous progress has even inspired her husband to take care of his waist – she’s losing two pounds on a different diet.
While a close friend of hers who saw her success also came to Slimming World and lost three and a half stones.
Claire said, “We bike together once a week and do a 14 mile loop and we really support each other, which is great.”
Now turning to Christmas, after last year’s nonexistent party season, she’s looking forward to some festive occasions where she can dress up and show off the new look she worked so hard for.
She said, “I belong to a book club and we’ve been together for 14 years.
“I hope we have a Christmas party this year as I have a really nice dress that I can’t wait to wear.”
She added, “It’s a sparkling three-quarter length sleeveless dress.
“I got some really nice and very flattering comments on my weight loss, now I can’t wait for the Christmas parties to really sparkle.”
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