Leona on left before Slimming World and on right on her wedding day and afterwards.
Leona tells her story in the hope to inspire people to believe they can achieve their dream weight loss.
Leona was due to get married on the 1st July 2017, not alone was she feeling emotional about the day, she felt embarrassed about what she saw in the mirror.
On what should have felt the happiest 12 months of preparations in the lead up to her wedding, all Leona could think about was how she would look in photographs and what people would think as she walked up the aisle.
“On the 6th June 2016, I walked through the door of my Slimming World group, as I got to the door, the feelings of anxiety were so overwhelming - thinking should I go in, what would I say, do and mostly thinking what’s the point. No diet had ever worked for me before and why would it now.
“Not only had I gained a lot of physical weight but emotionally I was feeling lost. I had become a different person in every way, the bubbly, sociable Leona was gone and replaced by an insecure, embarrassed individual. I imagined the humiliation which awaited me, would people judge me for my weight, what I was really dreading was the moment when I was going to be asked: “Please step on the scale”. But, what lay ahead of me exceeded my expectations - a friendly Consultant and a lovely group of people which would turn into great friendships.
“What I heard that night left me in disbelief- this person was telling me to eat when I’m hungry, never ever go hungry, eat abundance of foods like included pasta, potatoes, rice, meats, vegetables - endless choices to choose from just making a few simple changes to how I cook my food. I thought - how can I eat all those foods and still loose weight? I believed I had to starve in order to loose weight. When I got home that evening, I sat down and planned my meals for the week ahead. I ate when I was hungry and made sure I followed the plan 100%, almost feeling I was overeating at times.
“I went to group every week without fail, I found this really benefited me, the support in the group from my Consultant Ingrid and members was amazing. I felt it was a place where it was secure to talk openly and ask for help when I needed it. When I set my target weight loss, I honestly thought I would never get there, but in April 2017 just eight months on, I achieved my first Personal Achievement Target , I’ll always remember that moment, I bursted with excitement. The anxious feelings I had towards myself for my wedding day were beginning to go away, I was starting to feel hope that I could be happy for once with how I looked.
“On the 1st July 2017, we got married. When I was leaving home, I turned and looked at myself in that mirror and said, “ Leona, you have done it, this is what it has been all about,” I felt proud and for once in such a long time- beautiful, gone were those times when I hid from the mirror, un tagging myself in photographs. A moment, I will remember from the whole day was when I walked up the aisle- my husband turned to look at me, he took a double glance- the look on his face when he saw me and what he said to me will stay with me forever - our own little moment from the whole day.
“Nearly three years on from that first night I joined Slimming World, with two target weight losses achieved – three stone gone forever, to be able to say I have kept the weight off is unbelievable. I will be honest when I was told that first night that.
“I can achieve my dream weight loss goal”, looking back on it now, I halve heartedly believed it. I can honestly say Slimming World has changed my life in so many ways.
“On April 2 last year, I became a Slimming World Consultant in Mountrath, Co Laois, and now to relaunch a second group to support members on the most personal journey of their lives is an absolute dream come true.
“People may ask: “What makes me want to do that job”.My answer is: “I want to make people feel exactly how I felt on my wedding day,” proud to be you ! I don’t see this as a job, I see it as a role of giving people back confidence, belief in themselves,” she says.
Leona will be relaunching Slimming World in The Killeshin Hotel, Portlaoise, Co Laois on Tuesday, March 26, 2019, at 5.30pm and 7.30pm.
She is looking forward to welcoming new members and existing members. Leona can be contacted on 0851270969