“I am really happy in my own skin for the first time in my life, and so proud of myself that I’ve done it.”
I have a condition called primary lymphedema, which means my lymphatic system doesn’t work properly, and fluid gathers all along my legs. I was diagnosed in 2014 and was very restricted in my movements. I was 16½ stone then, and I remember asking the doctor, “Would exercise help?”, and he told me to go home and put my legs up whenever I could, not to bother trying to exercise because it would be too painful, and there was nothing I could really do apart from wear thigh-high surgical stockings. So I took that advice, and sat and ate everything I could possibly find to comfort me. It got to the point where I’d get out of bed in pain, and if I needed to go downstairs, I’d bring everything with me for the day because I couldn’t get back up the stairs. I couldn’t bend, I couldn’t kneel, I couldn’t cross my legs. I had to change to an automatic car because my leg wouldn’t flex to allow me to drive a manual car.
Now, having lost nearly 9st, and while I still feel discomfort in my legs, I don’t have pain or swelling. The weight loss has, especially on my legs, has helped tremendously. I now walk six to nine kilometres most days, I do aqua aerobics three times a week, I can kneel, I can bend, I can run… I can do anything I want to do in my life – my legs don’t hold me back. I step out of bed in the morning and my legs are just grateful to meet the ground, instead of dreading every step.
The Balance plan, Unislim’s eating plan, was exactly what I needed. I didn’t know how to eat before. I’d just graze all day, I never had breakfast – I don’t recall having breakfast since I was a child. When I started, my leader, Natasha Delaney, said to me, “It’s like going back to eating how your mother fed you when you were going to school.” that clicked with me. So I have breakfast, then a snack, lunch and then dinner, and it all works. My legs were so bad at the beginning – I was barely walking – but I made a point of doing some exercise with the plan from about two weeks in – just 15 minutes at a slow pace, but I did it and felt amazing.
I’ve tried other diets, but I couldn’t sustain them because I can’t eat a bucketful of fruit only to have one slice of bread. I never knew simple thinks like weighing carbs was going to make such a big difference to me, to know how much I could have on a plate. In Unislim you can eat everything its just how much of everything is what they have thought me.
I’ve been very lucky. I thought my lymphedema would stand in my way, but it didn’t. I hit the ground running when I joined Unislim on the 20th of February 2019, and I think I’ve only gained weight twice, and it was no more than a pound each time.
Unislim has given me a life I didn’t even know I was missing. Even before I got lymphedema, I was overweight. I was limited – I couldn’t go into a shop and just buy anything off the rack, I had to go into the stores that offered bigger sizes. I don’t recall ever standing on the scales and seeing the weight I am now, so it’s quite emotional to see those numbers on the scales. I never thought I could be that weight.
I have a pep in my step now. When I wake up, I just want to get the best out of the day. I don’t ever make excuses now. If I want to have a night out and maybe go for drinks, I can. And the next morning, I just put a line through it and move on – I never look backwards.
I am really happy in my own skin for the first time in my life and so proud of myself. I have been dieting 26 years now trying to lose weight, but this time I know what to do. I know how to keep it off, as Unislim’s plan is a lifestyle, not a short term fix and I know I’m in control, and that keeps me going.
I’d advise others to take pictures from the day you start your own weight loss journey. The day I started, I took a picture from the front and side, and then every stone for the first three stone, I took pictures. Then I started taking them every half stone. I printed them all off recently and made a little photo album to keep in my handbag. That will spur me on if I’m having a bad time, to see where I’ve come from and where I’ve got to. In time you will come to appreciate what your body can actually do, how far you’ve come and the journey you’ve had. Just keep at it and never give up, I’m so glad I didn’t.