Mum ‘too breathless’ to read bedtime stories to her kids loses half her body weight

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  • A mum of two who went from a size 20 to an 8 has been named Slimming World‘s Woman of the Year for 2016.

    30-year-old Hollie Barrett used to weigh 17st 1lbs, which made her feel extremely self-conscious and unhealthy. Even Hollie’s role as a mum was affected, with her fearing that her size would cause her kids to be bullied:

    ‘I felt like my weight was holding me back in every aspect of my life, especially when it came to doing things with my children,’ Hollie said.

    ‘Even things other mums might take for granted, like taking them swimming, seemed off limits because I felt so self-conscious.’

    For Hollie, the moment she realised she needed change her lifestyle was when she was too out of breath to read her daughter a bedtime story.

    ‘I once chased Imogen up the stairs to bed and was so breathless I couldn’t speak properly to read her a book – it broke my heart. Now I finally feel like the person – and the mum – I was meant to be all along.’

    Hollie lives in Blunderston, Suffolk, with her partner Thomas and their two children Ethan, 11, and four-year-old Imogen.

    She’d been overweight for the majority of her life, and used food as a source of comfort – especially after losing her mum to breast cancer in 2013.

    ‘After we lost mum I started to really think about my health and my future. I wanted to be around for my kids and to be able to do all the normal things that mums do while they were still young,’ she said.

    Image: Hollie Barrett/Slimming World

    Hollie (left) in April 2015

    After reading on Facebook how a friend was so successful with Slimming World, Hollie made the decision to join her local group along with her sister Sarah.

    Right after entering the group, she said she immediately knew it was the place for her.

    ‘I was so nervous walking through those doors and was worried I’d be the biggest person there.

    ‘I instantly knew there was no need to be scared though and that the people in the group really understood and cared. And in my first week I lost 9lbs.’

    More: Slimming World recipes to try tonight!

    Hollie has now shed 8st 6lbs, thanks to some amazing help from her Slimming World Consultants.

    ‘They have both been incredible,’ she said in praise.

    ‘Nothing was ever too much trouble and they always believed in me – even when I was struggling to believe in myself.

    ‘During my first few months I didn’t want to know how much I weighed so we covered the scales, and whenever I was having a difficult week they’d get ideas from the group on how to help me get through it and keep me motivated and they’d send little cards between weekly group sessions so I knew I wasn’t struggling on my own.’

    Image: Hollie Barrett/Slimming World

    Hollie in February 2015

    Hollie switched up her eating habits, swapping chicken chow mein, cake and ice cream for overnight oats, baked sweet potatoes and lean homemade beef burgers. She still enjoys treats, having a chocolate bar every now and again and light hot chocolate.

    Instead of following strict fad diets that made her hungry and not committed at all, she now satisfies herself with wholesome, low-calorie, filling food. She couldn’t believe that she didn’t have to starve herself to lose weight, but now believes it more than ever.

    Image: Hollie Barrett/Slimming World

    Hollie at a size 8 now

    Hollie and her family also enjoy exercising together in a fun way, taking long walks and going on active holidays.

    ‘I walked 40 miles in four days and climbed a mountain when we went away recently,’ said Hollie.

    ‘I’ve started jogging and even had the confidence to put on a swimsuit and take my children swimming for the first time since losing weight, which was an amazing experience.

    ‘Thomas loves my new figure and new-found confidence too!’

    Hollie’s diet: Before

    Breakfast: Nothing to eat. Two or three milky coffees with sugar.

    Lunch: Sometimes nothing. Or thick-sliced white toast with butter and jam, followed by a big slice of cake and high-calorie takeaway coffee topped with cream.

    Dinner: Takeaway, such as chicken chow mein, sweet and sour pork balls, chips and spring rolls.

    Snacks: Chocolate bars, cookies and ice cream.

    Hollie’s diet: After

    Breakfast: Overnight oats – porridge oats layered with lots of frozen berries and fat-free Greek-style natural yogurt, followed by a white coffee made with skimmed milk and sweetener.

    Lunch: Baked sweet potato with sliced cold meats and salad, followed by fresh fruit.

    Dinner: Homemade burger (made with lean minced beef), topped with pulled pork, homemade BBQ sauce and Cheddar cheese, with Slimming World-style chips (baked in the oven in low-calorie cooking spray) and vegetables. A sugar-free jelly.

    Snacks: Picked onions and gherkins, carrot and cucumber sticks with homemade hummus, Cadbury’s Highlights Hot Chocolate, a chocolate bar, and sugar-free lemon squash or sparkling water to drink.

    A massive congratulations to Hollie!

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