I weighed 17 stone – I now buy size 10 clothes


Hitting a milestone birthday and looking back on a life burdened by her weight left Rachel desperate for change. She shed the pounds with the help of the Trust’s healthy weight service.

I weighed 17 stone at my largest, but now I delight in picking size 10 trousers off the rails

Rachel’s story

Hitting a milestone birthday and looking back on a life burdened by her weight left Rachel Wannan, 44, desperate for change.

Rachel weighed 17 stone at her largest, but now she delights in picking size 10 trousers off the rails!

She shed the pounds with the help of the Trust’s healthy weight service in Calderdale, who she was referred to after attending a health check appointment at her local GP surgery.

Rachel smiling after one of her workouts South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Below she explains her story:

“I’ve always been aware of my weight, even from a young age. I was very sporty and wasn’t bullied, but conversations I overheard in school made me aware I was ‘different’.

“I tried losing weight for the first time when I was around 15. I tried slimming tablets and diet plans, but they weren’t for me. I lost – and gained – three stone three times in seven years.

“When I was 33, after the birth of my second child, I said to myself that I wasn’t going to be like this when I was 40. Unfortunately, when I hit 40, I was still the same, but I knew something had to change.

“So in early 2012, I went for a ‘healthy woman’ appointment at my local GP surgery. I was weighed, had my BMI tested, my cholesterol checked, and had my liver function assessed, among other tests.

“When the results came back, I felt like my blood was made of crisps and chocolate. I stopped snacking that day.

“I was referred to the healthy weight service through my surgery, which helped me to change my lifestyle. I was given advice on healthy eating and began by cutting out snacks and drinking water, and was also advised to start gentle exercising.

“I began by going on short walks to keep me active. After a while, each time I went for a walk, I would increase the distance and try to challenge myself. As I grew in confidence with the help of the healthy weight service, I joined more and more classes, such as a ‘return to netball’ class which I loved because I was captain of the netball team at school!

“Before, I wouldn’t eat takeaways and would always cook for myself, but I did enjoy a portion of fish and chips once in a while. One day, after joining the healthy weight service, I was walking home from work and passed the chip shop. I saw everyone coming out with their chip butties, and really wanted one!

“However, the healthy weight service gave me some really helpful advice that helped with my weight loss. They told me that I would have to experience the cravings 12 times before they went away. That helped me get through it as I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel and I didn’t have to give in.

“I visited the healthy weight service once a week for a weigh-in and advice. This helped me to achieve a 5% weight loss goal and gave me the knowledge and confidence to help myself.

“I also went along to one of the healthy weight service’s exercise classes, called ‘Move It to Lose It’, at North Bridge Leisure Centre in Halifax. The class lasts an hour and includes aerobic exercises and a circuit workout involving things like squats, box steps and knee lifts.

“After a few weeks of going to Move It to Lose It, I started to feel really good about joining in, getting involved, and doing something. It gave me the confidence to start swimming which I would never have done before because I wanted to cover up all the time.

“Now the people at Move It to Lose It see me as an inspiration. They look at me and know that if I can do it, they can do it too.

“I do exercise every single day now – whether it’s a class such as Boxercise or Pilates, or walking into Halifax town centre. I’m so pleased with my body – it’s fit and toned and it’s given me a life.

“I used to wear the same clothes all the time until they had worn out. I never spent money on myself, and for the whole of 2012, I wore a coat to hide away. Now I look after myself – I buy clothes, get my hair done, and wear a fitted costume for swimming!

“If I met my previous self, I would say to her, “you can do it.” For all the years I thought of doing something about my weight, it took me just one year to completely change my life. The benefits far outweigh anything you have to go through. I don’t have to think about waking up and being disappointed in myself anymore.

“I can honestly say it wasn’t hard for me because I wanted it – and I needed it! I know in my mind that I will never be big again. I have the knowledge to pull myself back in line.

“I see so many people around who don’t recognise me. My family are so proud of me – although my youngest child doesn’t enjoy my cuddles as much! I don’t have to hide away anymore – I am more confident, I accept compliments from people, and I am proud of myself.

“If I can do it, anybody can. I look forward now. I have a future. I am free.”

The healthy weight service is provided by the healthy lifestyles team which is run by the Trust. It offers help and advice to people aged over 15 with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of over 25 to help them achieve a healthy weight loss.

The service is run at a number of locations throughout Calderdale, including GP surgeries. If you live in Calderdale, you can contact the service on 01422 397370 for more information.