Getting life back on track
WOMAN'S OWN|July 06, 2020
These women took a challenge that boosted their confidence and their emotional well-being
MICHELLE RAWLINS

‘Now I look and feel the part’

Gaynelle Samuel, 60, lives in London.

Smoothing down my smart, tailored dress, I walked through the airport, full of excitement. As an international trade union officer, overseas conferences were all part of the job. But only a couple of years earlier, I’d felt quite differently about flying off to mix with high-level delegates.

For most of my adult life, I’d been a size 14, then when I was 38, doctors discovered a polyp in my nose. Thankfully, it turned out to be benign, but as I was recovering from the surgery to remove it, I used food to help make myself feel better. As I gradually went up the dress sizes and my clothing choices narrowed, I found it harder to be as well-presented.

I’d been having problems with my knees for years, and in 2015, on a girls’ trip to Derbyshire, they hurt so much I could barely climb the stairs. My GP suggested that a walking stick might help, so now instead of carrying a stylish handbag, I had to use a rucksack. My style was being dictated by my health, and since I was already worried about looking unprofessional, it felt like a real blow.

A year later, during a flare-up of pain, I ended up being admitted to hospital. This time, I didn’t bounce back as quickly. While housebound, I gained another stone.

In June 2018, a friend and I booked a trip to Portugal. I’d lost my mum, Olive, eight months earlier, so it was just what I needed. But as we sat in the sun and showed each other the photos we’d taken, my heart sank when I saw one of me. Back home, I was browsing through Facebook when I saw that a friend had lost over 9st with Slimming World. I searched for my nearest group. I’d always thought I wasn’t much of a cook, but my Consultant, Maria, assured me that anyone could get the hang of Slimming World’s Food Optimising healthy eating plan. I started with quick meals, such as egg wraps filled with turkey rashers and lettuce, and started batch-cooking pasta sauces.

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