After the loss of her husband, Lesley Abraham decided she needed to make a permanent change to her diet and lifestyle. She shares her story of how she came to embrace her new ‘single’ life.
Christmas 2018 was a little different for Lesley Abraham. She celebrated with family in sunny Australia – and was over four stone lighter than she had been the previous year. She had visited Oz three times before with her late husband, but this was her first trip on her own. “And there’s no way I would have done that if I’d still been nearly 14 stone,” she admits. “I just wouldn’t have had the confidence.” Lesley had been overweight for 10 years on and off, and struggled with food most of her life. “It was all down to poor choices,” she explains. “Mum was a good ‘stodge’ cook and my dad was a baker, so growing up we always ate lots of dumplings, bread and pastries.” She continued with this way of eating as an adult, with the calorific addition of alcohol. “My husband and I were members of a yacht club,” says Lesley. “We went along most evenings for a drink, and usually ended up staying for dinner!”
'I knew I needed to make a change"
When Lesley and her husband first met, they were both a bit overweight so decided to slim down together. They followed one of Rosemary Conley’s plans, and successfully lost a couple of stone each. “But we went straight back to our old ways of eating and the weight returned,” says Lesley. Tragically, Lesley’s husband became very ill five years ago, and received a terminal diagnosis last June. “He was given three weeks to live,” Lesley remembers. “I realised that I was soon going to be single, and that I needed to keep myself and fit and healthy. We hadn’t been doing much while he was ill, just sitting at home and eating as that felt like all we had left. I knew I needed to make a change and stick with it.”
"It was the ideal choice for me"
Signing up online was the obvious choice for Lesley as she knew the plan had worked for her in the past. “It’s a brilliant website,” she enthuses. “The eating plan itself is flexible, the recipes are so easy to use – I just search for one by ingredient. It was the ideal choice for me. It feels personal as well as being effective.” An online club fitted with Lesley’s lifestyle much better than a traditional one. “I travel a lot with work so committing to a regular class is difficult,” she explains. “The rest of the time I work from home, so it’s useful to be able to access the site whenever I want.” She also used the mobile app to track her food intake – and continues to do so now. “That way, if things start to go awry, I can put a stop to it quickly. I still weigh all my food out too. I kept all the habits and they help me keep slim. And I enjoy doing it!” To begin with, Lesley found following the plan easy, and seeing her weight decrease kept her motivated. After six months, she hit a plateau, where her weight stayed the same or fluctuated up and down by half a pound. This lasted about a month, but she stuck to the plan and her weight loss kicked off again. “I wasn’t hungry at all on the plan,” she says. “And nothing is banned, which makes it easier to stick with. You need the odd bit of chocolate and glass of wine!” As well as changing her diet, Lesley cut back on alcohol and started exercising regularly. “I started seeing alcohol as just empty calories,” she explains. “I used to have several glasses of wine a night, but now I buy a box of wine which I keep in the fridge and just use for the occasional glassful.” She uses her home rowing machine most days and jogs on a trampette a few times a week too. “I did join a gym but it was over an hour away, so using it was tricky,” she explains. “I’d never really exercised consistently before and it has made such a difference."
"I feel like I have a new lease of life"
After slimming down to nine-and-a-half stone, Lesley is enjoying greater confidence and a more positive outlook on life. “I enjoy life so much more,” she exclaims. “I can actually go clothes shopping instead of trying to hide away or buy things online. Life is just more enjoyable.” As well as giving her a trimmer figure, Lesley’s lifestyle change has also had a positive impact on her health. “The health benefits have been huge,” she acknowledges. “My blood pressure is good and my diabetes is better controlled. Generally I feel I have more energy and can do more.” The change in lifestyle is a permanent one for Lesley. “I know that I’ve got to keep this new relationship with food for the rest of my life if I want to stay slim. Going back to my old dieting and bingeing cycle will be counterproductive. I am so proud of myself that I want to stay slim now. “I feel like I have a new lease of life after a fairly traumatic period (both my parents died in the two years before my husband’s death). It made me appreciate the moment, and realise that things can change very quickly with no warning. You’ve really got to make the most of life while you can. I started going to festivals on my own and have made some great friends just chatting to people in front of the stage. “I’ve had a wonderful Christmas in Australia and am really looking forward to 2019. I’ve got five festivals booked, three gigs and my niece’s wedding to attend. I can’t wait really!”
*Weight-loss results may vary