Three Sussex slimmers share life changing weight loss stories and before and after photos

It’s no secret the UK population faces a spiralling obesity crisis and increased mental health challenges.

Amanda Ray lost 6st 4lb
Amanda Ray lost 6st 4lb

The pandemic has done little for our waistline or mental health and many are now looking to become healthier in both body and mind.

Government figures suggest more than 40 per cent of adults in England gained weight during the pandemic, with the average gain being half a stone (just over 4.1kg), while more than half of adults (60 per cent) and over two thirds of young people (68 per cent) said their mental health got worse during lockdown.

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Becki and Martin Keightley lost 9st between them

These Sussex slimmers are sharing their success stories to show it is easier than you may think to make healthier choices.

Amanda Ray, from Bexhill, was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and was told it would be difficult to conceive children naturally, so was over the moon when she found out she was pregnant. However, being a busy mum led to weight gain

She said: “I created very bad habits and just ate convenience food, takeaways and lots of chocolate to help me get through the day. The weight piled on and before i knew it I was a size 28. It had got to a point that I couldn’t even walk up the stairs without being out of breath and simple things like pushing my daughter on the swings was a struggle.”

It was during a family day out to a theme park that Amanda decided something had to be done.

Catherine Train lost 5st 2lb

She said: “When I got onto one of the rides with my daughter, I attempted to do my seat belt up and couldn’t, I was too big!

“I was so embarrassed. I was then told I had to leave the ride. I felt like I had hit rock bottom, I found a quiet bench and cried as I felt so disappointed with myself.”

Amanda was nervous but joined Slimming World and weighed in at 19st 1lb.

She said: “Once I left the group I sat in my car and cried. I didn’t realize I had gained so much weight. I was determined to make it work. Seven days later at my first weigh-in I had already lost an amazing 12.5lb. I was so happy.

“I have now lost a total of 6 stone 4lb going from a size 28 to a size 14 I feel much more confident.

“I feel proud of how far I’ve come and I know my weight loss and new habits will have a positive effect on both mine and my daughter’s lives for many years to come.”

Catherine Train from Worthing lost a huge 5st 2lb after being involved in a bad accident.

She said: “In 2010 I succumbed to a life changing brain injury in an accident, that sadly my dad passed away in. I was 17 years old and had just started college.

“I was not expected to survive the accident and if I did would be left severely disabled.

“But I proved everyone wrong with grit and determination to go on and live a fulfilling life and regain much of my independence with the support of my family and team of buddies.

“During my recovery and road to independence I slowly put on weight due to the fact I was no longer able to exercise and also unhealthy eating habits during my rehabilitation.

“I weighed over 15 stone and was a size 24 in clothing.

Catherine says she had some tough times in her weight loss journey but is now a trim size 14.

She said: “Before I lost the weight I used a wheelchair and only walk very short distances. I don’t use my wheelchair now and walk all the time with my walker.

“I swim a couple of times a week and go to the gym and horse ride. I feel like a different person.”

Husband and wife team Becki and Martin Keightley, from Eastbourne, took on the weight loss challenge together and have lost a huge 9st between them.

Becki and Martin started during the pandemic.

Becki said: “I was worried that if I caught Covid it would kill me as I was so big, and suffering with my breathing just doing the simplest of things.

“I can now run up stairs and go for long walks, also put my own boots on and not ask someone to help me.”

Becki says her healthy diet means she no longer has to live on indigestion medicines.

Becki’s husband Martin said: “I was struggling to go for a walk and just felt fed up, was eating to make myself feel better. I wanted to get back into sport, and knew that weight loss would be the only way that would happen, as well as wanting to see my children and grandchildren grow up.

“I have a heart condition, which wasn’t improving, since joining slimming world, my blood pressure has decreased, and cholesterol is down and my heart is working better.”

Becki added: “I’m so proud of the Journey we took in 2021 and will continue for ever! 2022 I aim to drop my target for another stone loss too.”

All the slimmers lost weight through Slimming World and say the group support helped them to shift the pounds. There is a myth that only you, and you alone, can make a positive change to your life but studies have shown that group support can make a big difference to your chances of success and increase you mental toughness.

Mental toughness, a concept used in psychology and behaviour change that has been studied within the sports field for many years, is linked to characteristics such as keeping a clear focus on goals even when under pressure, having a strong sense of purpose and self determination, and feeling in control.

While it’s linked to resilience, it’s about more than being resilient, with sport psychologists noting mental toughness is what gives an elite athlete an edge. This is the first time the concept has been investigated in relation to weight loss but the findings shows people who are supported to lose weight in a group environment not only lose more weight than those who choose to lose weight without support – they can also increase their mental toughness.

The findings of the study at the University of Lincoln, which was led by Dr Elizabeth Stamp, a lecturer at Loughborough University, examined the relationship between weight loss and mental toughness over a period of six months.

It found members of Slimming World groups lost weight more successfully than a comparison group, who were aiming to lose weight without the support of a group and significantly improved their mental toughness.

The group receiving support lost 2st more than those going it alone.

Martin Keightley said his Eastbourne group had been a great help in his weight loss and added: “The whole experience has been really great and a pleasure to do, as well as getting fitter and slimmer, the group is very supportive and we have made some great friends.”