Edinburgh’s ‘superslimmers’ reveal their path to health

Edinburgh 'superslimmer' Maureen Crighton
Edinburgh 'superslimmer' Maureen Crighton
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MORE leftover mince pies anyone? Perhaps more chocolates, booze and an extra helping of Christmas cake?

It all adds up to a bulging waistline and a feeling that this has to be the last time you plod through the festive season feeling bloated and miserable.

My portion sizes were too big and I was snacking too much. I learned to make healthier choices and save a bit of chocolate for each evening so I didn’t feel deprived.

Maureen Crighton

Wouldn’t it be nice to shape up so by this time next year, you’re able to actually enjoy the festivities without hiding behind a baggy jumper or squeezing into party outfits?

The bad news is that only eight per cent of folk who make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight actually succeed.

But it’s not impossible.

So why not take some inspiration from three of Edinburgh’s ‘superslimmers’ – who have spent this Christmas and New Year looking better and healthier than ever?

Maureen Crighton, 54, Barnton

Height: 5ft 5ins

Was: 16 stones

Now: 10st 12lb

Lost: 5st 2lbs

The dress was perfect – just the style that Maureen had been looking for.

The trouble was she was a size 20 and the dress wasn’t available in anything bigger than size 18.

“I loved it but apart from being expensive, there was no way I’d get into it,” she recalls. “I realised something had to change.”

A friend suggested joining Scottish Slimmers. The added push came when another pal’s passing comment – ‘How long are you going to last this time?’ – kick started her determination to prove she could lose weight.

“I had planned to lose weight for my 50th birthday and didn’t. Then I was going on a cruise, but it didn’t happen either. I wanted to slim for my daughter’s graduation and wear a nice outfit. Again, I didn’t manage.

“So I thought this time I’d do it.”

She joined the classes in January last year and quickly discovered tricks and cookery skills that saw the weight slide off.

“I actually ate a Kit-Kat every night and still managed to lose the weight,” says Maureen.

“My portion sizes were too big and I was snacking too much. I learned to make healthier choices and save a bit of chocolate for each evening so I didn’t feel deprived.”

Maureen, who works for the Royal Bank of Scotland’s fraud department, says breaking down her weight loss into small targets helped.

Soon Maureen had to clear out her larger size clothes, some to the local charity shop, some she sold on eBay.

One day she was scanning through the items for sale, when a familiar frock 
appeared.

“It was the dress I’d looked at before but couldn’t get because I was too big. This one was a size 12 – my size. I had to have it – and I love it.”

Top tip: Depriving yourself doesn’t work. It just means that one day you will binge and undo all the good work you’ve done. If that happens, just draw a line under the day and start afresh the next.

Jackie Slimon, 44, Haddington

Height: 5ft 6ins

Was: 14st 8lbs

Now: 11st 1.5lbs

Lost: 48.5lbs

Not long ago mum-of-two Jackie couldn’t run a few hundred yards, she was so out of shape. Now she’s planning her first marathon. “I was what you’d call ‘inactive’,” she groans. “I used to go to aerobics, buy all the gear and last for three or four weeks before quitting. I wanted to see results quicker. I was too impatient.”

Now, however, she is looking forward to May, when she’ll pound the streets of Liverpool for her first marathon race.

It’s an amazing turn around in just two years. The only downside, says Jackie, is that she didn’t do it earlier.

“I’m really annoyed with myself,” she explains. “It’s taken me to now to realise that to lose weight, you need to address exercise as well as food.

“I look back and wonder why I didn’t get my act together sooner.”

Jackie decided to focus on losing weight two years ago, motivated by her children, Ava, 13, and Jake, who’s eight.

“I want to be around for them for as long as possible,” she says. “I was at the point where a size 18 was getting tight. And I thought ‘enough is enough’.”

She downloaded a ‘couch to 5k’ app, put on her trainers and set off for a run.

It was slow at first. But as the weight came off, each outing became less challenging.

“But I was eating what I wanted,” adds Jackie. “Eventually I realised I had to fix that too.”

Jackie’s WeightWatchers group in Dunbar gave her the support she needed to get her through the tough times. And the plan’s ‘points’ system – which gives food a points value to help users make the right choices – allowed her an occasional treat while she lost weight.

And from not being able to run at all, Jackie has completed a half marathon and walked three marathon-length Moonwalks and the Kiltwalk.

Jackie, who works in retail for John Lewis, is feeling better than ever.

“My confidence has shot up, I buy nice clothes instead of just making do with big baggy jumpers and jeans.”

Top tip: “I made a point of saying to people that I was going to do it – telling them made it more ‘real’ and made me more determined.”

Aimee Lothian, 26, Kirkliston

HEIGHT: 5ft

WAS: 12st 5lbs

NOW: 10st 6lbs

LOST: 27lbs

The heat was on and Aimee Lothian was looking forward to slipping into a cool pair of shorts.

“It was a lovely warm day back in April,” she recalls. “The shorts were a size 16 but there was no way could I get them on. I was lying on the bed trying to get into them.

“I went out that day wearing a big coat to hide under. I was sweating and miserable.

“That was when I thought I had to do something about my weight.”

Aimee, mum to four-year-old Lily-Rose, piled on pounds comfort eating her way through unhealthy snacks and takeaways. The impact wasn’t just on her waistline, it affected her emotionally too.

“I was at the point of not liking myself very much. I hated how I looked.”

Aimee asked her GP for advice and was told she was suitable for the Get Moving programme, funded by NHS Lothian and run at various Edinburgh Leisure centres.

Within days of getting started, the weight began to slide away.

“I lost eight pounds in the first two weeks,” says Aimee. “It really was amazing. It’s changed my life.”

The course combines exercise with advice on how to choose healthy options, cook better food and understand confusing food labels.

And while Aimee kept a watch on what she ate, she never felt hungry.

“I kept a food diary and cut out the unhealthy junk food and snacks. I started to buy leaner mince and swapped chocolate cereal for bran flakes. I didn’t feel hungry and found that I felt much better because I wasn’t eating far too much.”

The programme encourages exercise. Soon Aimee was hitting the gym and signing up for a 5k race.

Now, just a few months on, the old size 16 shorts are far too big.

“I’ve turned my whole life around,” she adds. “I used to wear horrible old clothes because they fitted me, now I love shopping and getting my hair done.

“I couldn’t be happier – instead of hating myself, I love myself.”

Top tip: It’s easy to mistake feeling hungry for being thirsty. So pour a large glass of water, fill up with ice cubes and sip. If you’re still peckish, try a warm, filling bowl of homemade vegetable soup.