TWO stone might not seem a massive amount of weight to lose; but for Deborah Long, from Ballyphehane, losing 23lbs has made a huge difference to her life both mentally and physically.
“I have just a pound and a half to go before I reach my target of 12 stone,” says Deborah, who has also shaped a new career as a Slimming World Consultant.
“I have between 40 and 50 members,” says Deborah. “We all support each other and the positive encouragement gives members that extra motivation to reach their target.
“I joined Slimming World when my friend, Dawn, thought that the programme would suit me. She has lots of experience, being a Slimming World Consultant herself. I joined her class in Togher in January of this year and I have never looked back. I gained a pound here and there along the way and other weeks I maintained my weight. Now, I’m in sight of my target and I’ve never felt better.”
Deborah had a healthy ambition to lose two stone to look better and boost her energy levels rather than an out-of control obsession.
“I wanted to achieve the long-lasting results that we all want,” says the 36-year-old mother of two.
Like women everywhere, Deborah had gone down the quick-fix, faddy-diet route which led to a road to nowhere.
“I’ve always struggled with my weight,” says Deborah. “My daughter, Jade, is 16 and even before she was born, I was yo-yo-ing on the scales, always looking for the quick fix. And I put on a lot of weight during my pregnancy. I tried every crash diet on the market.”
After Jade was born, though, Deborah lost weight without trying.
“I was very sick after Jade was born, suffering from a perforated bowel. The weight fell off rapidly. In five or six weeks, I had dropped three stone.”
Fortunately, Deborah bounced back from her bout of ill-health, and the one or two extra stone she struggled with returned to haunt her.
Deborah tried other weight loss clubs, but says they didn’t do it for her.
“The points system didn’t suit my lifestyle.”
Deborah’s lifestyle was set to change with the biggest day of her life looming.
“My wedding day was drawing near, four years on from Jade’s arrival. I wanted to look fabulous naturally enough. I joined a gym which offered dietary advice as well, not unlike Slimming World. My GP offered the services of a dietician free of charge. She gave me a target and helped me to identify the danger zones food-wise.”
While Deborah wasn’t a natural gym bunny, she did take the sound advice offered by her dietician.
“I am not a natural gym person,” says Deborah. I relied on diets to lose weight that promised a quick-fix.
“I lost two stone as I yo-yo-ed on the scales. I kept trying out different diets that were fashionable at the time,” says Deborah.
“I lost the weight. Then I’d pack it in. The weight crept on again. I never learned about healthy food choices while you could still lose weight.”
But she was a beautiful bride.
“Yes. Everyone blooms on their wedding day don’t they?”
Deborah discovered she was pregnant with her son Danny.
“I ballooned to 13 stone, my heaviest weight being 14 stone 2lbs,” she says.
“My husband worked away a lot. Often I’d just grab and eat what was handy. I tended to eat a lot of takeaways, which seems ironic now. My favourite meal is the Slimming World Fake away curry. And my husband says it is the best curry he has ever tasted.”
But the chipper wasn’t Deborah’s friend.
“At weekends I’d take short-cuts and go to the chipper. I had no routine which is not a good idea. I love savoury bites like cheese, crisps and peanuts. Diving into those with a glass of wine did me no favours weight-wise. The pounds gradually piled on.”
The Longs love holidaying in Kerry, their mobile home in Ballyheigue is one of their favourite places in all the world.
“Last summer I noticed more than ever how much weight I had piled on,” says Deborah.
“I decided that I would have to do something about it once and for all.”
So she had that light-bulb moment?
“Yes,” says Deborah. “I knew the time had come to do something definite and long-lasting about my weight problem. I wanted it gone so that I could be healthier, fit into a size 12 or 14 instead of a size 18. And I wanted to be fit and active for Danny. With his dad away with work so much, it was up to me to do activities and play games with him.”
Dawn proved to be Deborah’s fairy-godmother.
“She explained the Slimming World programme to me and I ‘got it’ straight away, losing four and a half pounds the first week I joined,” says Deborah.
“I loved that you could substitute a healthy, less calorie-laden meal with a tasty alternative. You choose what you eat. The sins available to you on the programme were handy because you never felt deprived. The word ‘diet’ automatically means deprivation to most people. But it’s not the case in Slimming World. I felt no restrictions, I felt no guilt, and best of all, I felt no hunger!”
Deborah, always looking for the quick-fix in the past, was happy with the gradual results she was seeing. The group situation where everyone is in your corner, egging you on to weight-loss success, suited her.
“I learned to change bad habits for good ones,” she says. “I could cook normal family dinners with little adjustments.
The whole family ate the meals I prepared from the Slimming World programme and everybody lapped them up. The free foods on offer kept me full and satisfied.”
Deborah welcomed social occasions instead of dreading them.
“I planned ahead and tweaked my diet to work in an allowance to have a glass of wine. Before, I would stay in when I was dieting. Now I knew I could go out and still have a good time, being aware not to lapse back into any bad habits.”
Deborah didn’t fall off the bandwagon.
“I had a load of occasions this year,” says Deborah.
“Hen-parties, weddings and other occasions. But I managed to maintain or lose weight constantly throughout the year by following the Slimming World programme and taking on the valuable advice from Dawn and other members in the club. I stuck with it and never threw in the towel. ”
Deborah is now just a pound and a half off her target weight, 12 stone. How does she feel?
“I feel a lot more confident and happier in my skin,” she says.
“My family and friends see a huge difference in me and becoming a Slimming World consultant is a new lease of life for me.”
She likes fitting into new size 12 numbers and fitting into her daughter’s clothes is a novelty.
“She’s not always happy about that!” says Deborah, laughing. “I can fit into her jeans.”
The non-sale victories mean a lot to Deborah too.
“Knowing I can pick up a size 12 dress and know that it will fit me is a great feeling. I have a lot more energy and can enjoy family-fun days.
“I can run with Danny on my back without any effort. It is a great feeling.”
*Deborah’s Slimming World Class, Deerpark CBS, Thursday, at 7.30pm.
Slimming World’s Chicken Korma Fakeaway recipe
2 cloves of garlic
2cm root ginger, peeled and chopped
4 tblsp mild curry powder
6 chicken breasts cut into bit-size pieces
500ml boiling chicken stock
A pinch of sweetener
150gm fat-free natural Greek yogurt, whisked
Put the onion, garlic and ginger into a small food-processor and blend to a paste.
Spray a wide, non-stick pan with low-calorie cooking spray and place over medium heat.
Add the onion paste and stir fry for five minutes.
Then stir in the curry powder and cook for a further two minutes until aromatic.
Stir in the chicken and stock plus the sweetener.
Mix well, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Remove pan from heat. Stir in the yogurt and season to taste.
Scatter mint or coriander and serve hot with Basmati rice.