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Pam has lost 4 stone at her Philippa Aldridge Fitness class in Abingdon and has gone from a very tight size 18 to a slender size 10. She has maintained this weight loss for over a year! Pam’s energy levels have soared and she is fitter and healthier than she has ever been. Pam is not the only one in her family to have benefitted from this new found love of healthy eating and exercise – her husband is now 7 stone lighter and fitter than he has been for a long time.

Before Weight Loss
I was desperate to replace my threadbare tight jeans.  After trying on several pairs, I left the shop refusing to buy a size 20!  I just put it down to the manufacturers were skimping on material.  When I got home I thought I would confirm this theory by getting on the scales.  The weighing scales had only ever been used to weigh suitcases for going on holiday, so I had not stood on them for some time.  I was shocked to see the needle go all the way round to 14 stone.  How could I have let things get so bad…?

I decided to do something about it so at the very least I could buy a size 18 jeans, as I still had not got a replacement.  I had a plan…   Once the school run was done I would exercise at home and cut down my eating.  Exercise and eat less – that would work.   I focused on exercising at home, doing a variety of movements in front of the TV screen.  My favourite quickly became jogging.  I didn’t bother with warming up or cooling down, I just went for it each day, and it wasn’t long before I was jogging 4 miles per day.    I stopped eating breakfast, which I never really enjoyed; I would eat on the go for lunch – quickest thing possible really, never paying attention to what I was consuming and pigging out in the evening as I was starving by the end of the day.  I don’t remember exact time scales, but this daily routine went on for a while.  My heel had started to hurt, so I started taking painkillers and carried on jogging.  I thought it must be working as that saying goes ‘no pain no gain’.  On bad days I changed my exercise to step aerobics or boxing, but the heel pain was just getting worse and worse.  Eventually I had days when I just couldn’t exercise, so started eating again for ‘something’ to do.  Things came to a grinding halt in March 2012.

Waiting in the doctor’s surgery, I was in complete agony with my heel and barely able to walk I was in so much pain.  The doctor confirmed I had a condition known as Plantar Fasciitis and recommended I should stop exercising immediately and not to walk on it and rest it completely.  At that point I just burst into tears and felt I had hit rock bottom.  I explained everything to him, and told him that it was not practical for me not to walk; I had the school run to do.  We chatted and came up with a plan; the most important was to get the pain under control.

It took months to get the pain under control, whilst doing this I continued to eat mindlessly.  I had given up trying to lose any weight whilst I couldn’t exercise.  All that effort of over exercising and not eating for most of the day had been a waste of time as I was still 14 stone.   I continued to take pain killers and inflammatory medicines and took the doctor’s advice and got gel heels for all my shoes.  I did get a Pedi roller to roll my heel over it, but it was too painful to use.  The biggest difference I noticed was wearing a night splint.  It supported my heel and gently stretched, so I was able to walk in the morning.  The school runs got more bearable and I began to feel better about myself and think about how I could lose weight.   There were so many options on the market ranging from counting points, having colour days, buying readymade meals, cutting out the carbs – it was just endless.  Most of the above didn’t appear to offer exercise as part of the package.  Things were about to change for the better.
September 2012

That change came in the form of a leaflet through the front door.  It was a leaflet offering the complete weight loss solution and an exercise class right near me with someone called Philippa. Over the next few weeks I pondered it over and decided to go for it.  My husband didn’t think I needed to lose any weight and loved me for me – but I had reached a point where I wasn’t happy.  I was worried about my heel hurting, but after 6 months of resting it felt as long as I used my gel heels I would be ok to workout.  I wrote an email asking if I could attend the next session.  I had a prompt, friendly reply inviting me to come the following week.  

I had to wear my walking shoes (with gel heels) and jeans, as I had nothing else I could fit into.  I decided to try it for a few weeks and depending on how my heel was take it from there.  I had never gone to a class before that weighed you, and it had taken a lot of courage on my part just going there.  Everyone I met there gave me a warm and friendly welcome.  I completed my registration form, and then it was my turn to get on the scales.  I was gutted that it was 13st 11.5lbs.  I listened to the advice and got even more information on how to start my weight loss plan.  After a weekly talk it was time to exercise.  The first thing I noticed was the warm up, then the work out, followed by the cool down.  I came out of the class buzzing, thinking YES I could do this, and would return the following week.  

My heel hurt a little the next day, but I kept up with the doctor’s advice, with plenty of rest.  I read up on all the information and prepared to start the 1200 calorie a day for 2 weeks kick start plan.  I stuck with it for the first week and returned to the class – I was starving though!  I had lost weight and was really pleased.  The advice was to eat loads of vegetables to stop the hunger.  The second week I also lost weight, despite heel pain, I decided to continue.  Being overweight was adding to the problem and apart from that I actually felt more in control that my weight was finally starting to go down.   After the 2 weeks I went onto 1400 calories per day – this was much nicer and I felt that I could maintain this.  After the first month I had nearly lost a stone, and my husband Chris was noticing a difference, so decided to join me.  Although he did not attend the exercise classes after working out that he was generally eating 3000-4000 calories per day – he was only going to get bigger and with my determination I was only going to get smaller.  We have 2 girls aged 8 and 11 and were quite aware that we were struggling to keep up with them as they got more and more active.  We worked out a meal plan and both counted the calories; he put himself on 2000 calories per day.  Now the challenge really began – as we were both competitive and checking what each other was doing daily.  

After I had done the school run I started with a 10 minute walk every day.  This soon turned into 20 minutes per day and with my exercise class weekly I was continually losing weight each week.  We both religiously wrote everything down that we ate.  At one point in the kitchen I was displaying more certificates for weight loss than the girls were bringing home from school.  It was a good visual indicator to keep me going.  I was on a roll and had now increased my walking up to 30 minutes per day and was walking 2 ½ miles per day.  I did it first thing in the morning and then got on with the rest of my day.  My Mum had bought me built in GEL trainers which totally supported my heel and I was able to carry on exercising and working really hard at the exercise class, even if I couldn’t  coordinate my arms and legs.  Philippa is always encouraging and says ‘any move is a good move’.  

On any family days out we would walk and take the stairs and all see who could get to the top first.  Geocaching and river walks whatever the weather continued, along with working on our allotment.  The weight just continued to drop off both of us, and the stream of comments was amazing – it kept us going.  In 6 months I had lost 3 stone, Chris had lost a staggering 7 stone.  I just couldn’t believe it, as it had taken 2 decades to put it on.  It took a further 2 months to make it 4 stone lost – I wanted that certificate and was determined to get it.  Chris reached nearly an 8 stone loss by then, although could not quite maintain that loss and accepted that 7 stone was fantastic.  We looked completely different people.  However the real noticeable change was when we both invested in some clothes that actually fitted us.  Then the sunshine came out, so not only were we carrying less weight we were wearing summer clothes that showed off our new looks.  It was amazing how many people came up to us with lovely comments.

It is now over a year, and I haven’t felt this good for a long time.  I did keep my FAT jeans, and when I look at them, I find it hard to believe that I used to wear them and they were tight – what was I thinking.  I NEVER want to be that size again.  I still wear my night splint for my heel and gel trainers for all my exercising and gel inserts in other shoes.  I no longer take any medication for this condition and probably over protect my heel, but I NEVER want pain like that again.  I think losing 4 stone took the pressure off. Chris losing 7 stone now looks completely different.  I often get asked if I have a ‘new man’ in my life.  We are so glad we have done this together and have noticed how much more energy we have has a family.  Our children commented that they didn’t know we could RUN.  The girls love it when Daddy plays ‘tag’ in the field as he sure can run fast now and it is lovely to see the 3 of them charging about and the girls screaming as Daddy gets closer!

Losing weight has given me back my life; I finally feel more in control and have a more balanced work and family life and actually enjoy myself.  I have ME time and love going to my weekly class and have a catch up with the regulars there.  Philippa is brilliant, she is supportive and encouraging and has a great sense of humour which I like and makes me want to return each week.  I don’t see it as a weight loss class now; I have friends there and enjoy the workout. I do still write down what I eat and am every aware of how many calories are in foods, and think twice about buying them. We have had a bumper year at the allotment and have loads of vegetables, which do taste far superior to shop bought ones.  We now have vegetables with every main meal which accompanies fish or chicken.  We grow lots of fruit and the girls love to go blackberry picking.  I no longer add cream or custard to the fruit which keeps it a low calorie pudding.  Our favourite soup has to be pumpkin soup – it is yummy and so filling.  Lentil stew is another favourite as that is very filling and low calorie.

After Weight Loss
I think if I had not lost the weight I would still have no energy or motivation to complete the following:-

Kardy Party
In June 2013 I went to a Kardy Party exercise class.  There were hundreds of people there all exercising.  We danced away to Michael Jackson music and it was a fantastic day – I haven’t had that much fun in years.  I would recommend this to anyone and everyone.

Clerks Accreditation
I am a Clerk to school Governors at 5 schools.  This year I have studied a Clerks Accreditation.  It has been a tough year and at my lowest points nearly went back to eating mindlessly.  Rather than eat I contacted Philippa and asked for help.  She told me to have a cup of tea, go for a walk (I work from home), then if I was still hungry have some porridge.  As my handing in date got closer and with the work load, I did refocus and took time away from the house.  I made a list I what I needed to do and when.  I walked every day, to clear my head and took regular breaks.  I got it back under control, and have since passed with the highest grade – Merit.  

English Channel Swim Challenge
I was reading the Rosemary Conley magazine and saw an advert for Channel Swim 2013.  I decided to do this in the local pool as I had a free swim voucher, and would do it as a personal challenge.  I worked out all the lengths, and after the 1st session was daunted by how long swimming 22 miles would take.  I am not one for giving up, and with guidance from Philippa about extra food, as I was starving doing extra exercise I carried on.  22 hours later, I completed 22 miles.  This was done in-between work days.  My total swim was 26 miles, and I felt great after completing it.

As a family we now go on bike rides, anything up to 10 miles.  We walk up hills, climb stairs, and go out geocaching for miles.  It is quality time together, which the girls really enjoy.  They are very pleased that they no longer have a fat Mum and Dad.

Runner up Slimmer of the Year 2013
The last class of the year was a festive one.  For me 2013 was finished off by receiving a certificate for runner up ‘Slimmer of the Year 2013’.  It truly was the icing on the cake!  Thank you Philippa, I don’t think I could have done this without you.

What I used to eat:
Breakfast – Nothing
Lunch – cheese and crisp sandwiches, cake, biscuits
Dinner – Pizza, Cheesecake, wine, (snacking until bedtime - crisps, chocolate etc.)

What I eat now:
Breakfast – cereal or breakfast biscuits or porridge
Snack – Pink and White or apple
Lunch – Chicken Salad, yogurt, 100 calorie snack bar
Snack – Apple or 84 calorie French fries
Dinner – Salmon Stir-fry, fruit or weightwatchers ice cream

Power walk 4 times per week (10 miles)
Philippa Aldridge Fitness class
Allotment at weekends

Pamela Allum, Abingdon.