Sharon Hayes

Sharon Hayes was resigned to a life of limited mobility – until she joined GetSlim and began her incredible weight-loss journey.

“I can live life to the full now I’ve lost 12 stone!”

Sharon Hayes was resigned to a life of limited mobility – until she joined GetSlim and began her incredible weight-loss journey.

Fact file
Name: Sharon Hayes
Age: 53
Height: 5ft 4in
Weight before: 23st 9lb
Weight now: 11st 7lb
Clothes size before: 32/34
Clothes size now: 14

Total weight loss: 12st 2lb (77.1Kg)

For Sharon Hayes, Student Experience Administrator at the University of Liverpool, being overweight was a way of life. “I was overweight since I was a child,” she explains. “It was probably down to the lifestyle – everything was fried in the 1970s! That was the culture though, poor management of food and the way my family cooked. My dad and brother were fine but my mum and gran had severe weight problems. I guess I picked up the wrong genes!”

As she had always been larger, Sharon was not bothered by her size as much as slimmer friends who gained weight – for example after having children. “I never knew any different – it was how I had always been.” She admits that there were times when it did trouble her, and over the years she tried to lose weight on a number of occasions. “I tried them all – Weight Watchers, Slimming World, Rosemary Conley. Each time the most I lost was five stone.”

Like many people, Sharon found that family commitments meant that her needs were often overlooked, hindering her attempts to lose more weight. From 2002, she cared for her mother, who came to live with her. Her condition worsened, then Sharon’s husband became very ill. She also had two young children at the time. “My needs were put on the back burner,” she says. “I would just grab food and go.”

“Since then I haven’t looked back”

In April 2020, Sharon found herself logging onto Get Slim and signing up for three months. “I can’t say that there was a particular event or trigger that led to this decision,” she explains. “Something made me think of Rosemary Conley; when I looked her up online, I then found GetSlim. I thought to myself: ‘What have I got to lose?’” It proved to be a life changing moment. “Since then I haven’t looked back. Something just clicked this time!”

When she joined, Sharon looked at the different plans available on GetSlim and decided that she would try the 28-day Lean and Clean plan on the website. “It just jumped out at me,” she recalls. “It was exactly what I needed to get me going. I cut out all cakes, sweets and what we call ‘naughty’ foods for a month.” She was surprised at how easy it was to stick to. “It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought. As it was only a month, I knew there was an end in sight. And I was still able to eat a fair amount so I didn’t feel hungry.” She also credits her stubborn streak with helping her through. “People say that when I set my mind to do something, I get it done!”

After that, rather than follow a specific daily food plan, Sharon kept to calorie limits to give her a bit more flexibility. She found GetSlim’s recipe collection invaluable in achieving this. “I used the recipes from the website to manage my calorie intake. There are recipes for every type of meal you could want. I’m still using them now”

For Sharon, this led to a complete change in what she ate, cooking healthier meals and cutting back on snacking. She’d always had a weakness for crisps, so decided to stop eating them. “I won’t say I’ll never eat them again, but I need to be in place where I can have a few and move on,” she explains.

” I must also give a special mention to Julie one of the coaches, she contacts me regularly, and I have always known that she and the rest of the team are always there if I need them”

“It’s done me the world of good and really helped with my weight loss”

By November 2020, Sharon had lost a fantastic five stone. It was at this point though, that she realised if she wanted to lose more, she would have to increase her activity levels. “The size I was meant my mobility was awful. The most I could manage was a weekly trip to the supermarket to do the shopping.” She had also suffered a serious knee injury seven years previously, which affected her mobility. “I didn’t think it would ever get any better.”

Motivated by her desire to continue losing weight, Sharon began to go for walks, starting with very short distances. “I was so slow to start with that I couldn’t keep up with my small dog – she had to keep stopping for me! And for the first month, by body ached all over – it wasn’t used to it.” But she stuck with it and now walks every day, reaching distances of up to six miles. “It’s done me the world of good and really helped with my weight loss,” she enthuses. To her surprise and delight, it also had an effect on her knee. “It has improved 110%! I just have a tiny limp now, but it’s not really noticeable. I can go up and down the stairs much more easily. My office is up five flights of stairs: before, I always took the lift; now I walk up them every day.”

By October 2021, Sharon had lost an incredible 11-and-a-half stone. Her return to the office after working from home during the pandemic caused a stir. “Were my work colleagues surprised? That’s an understatement!” she chuckles. “Colleagues could see my head and shoulders on Zoom calls, so could tell I was slimmer in the face. Some asked if I was ill or had undergone gastric band surgery! A few jaws dropped when we returned to the office. Some people thought I was new, while others were pulling colleagues in from the corridor to see me.”

As well as the recipes and the 28-day Lean and Clean plan, Sharon found the stories and social chat on GetSlim very helpful. “I don’t contribute myself, but I do enjoy reading what others have written. There’s lots of support. One lady really inspired me – she lost six stone. I read her story and wished I could be like her. Now I’ve lost 12 stone!”

Support from her immediate family was also vital – in particular, from her daughter. “She has been an absolute rock and I couldn’t have done this without her,” Sharon explains. “She went walking with me all the time. She has been with me every step of the way.”

“I feel much more positive now”

This has been a long-term change for Sharon rather than a short-term diet. “I wasn’t losing weight for a particular goal to start with,” she reflects, “but the effect on my mobility pushed me to go even further.” Now she is aiming to lose a bit more weight so that her BMI is in the healthy range.  

“Absolutely the best thing about losing weight has been the improvement to my mobility,” Sharon says. “I would probably have ended up in a wheelchair if I’d carried on like before.” It has also given her the confidence to participate in life more. “My life was non-existent. If I was invited out for a meal, there was always a risk that I wouldn’t be able to fit into the seating. I feel much more positive now that I don’t have to worry about doing ordinary things.”

In the current circumstances, it is still difficult to make plans, but Sharon is considering opportunities she wouldn’t have entertained before. “Maybe when we’re back to normal I might go away for a weekend. I haven’t been abroad for many years so I could do a trip in the future. My size made flying tricky and getting hot in the sun was very uncomfortable.”

She admits that she is still getting used to her new, slimmer self. “Sometimes I go to sleep and think I’m going to wake up and it’s all a dream!” she laughs. “I bought a pair of trousers online the other day. When they arrived I thought I must have been optimistic when I ordered them, but they fitted!” It’s a credit to Sharon’s determination that her size – and life – has changed so dramatically.

Sharon’s Top Tips

  • Be honest – You need to be totally honest when you fill in your online food diary.
  • Exercise – Even if it’s just walking, exercise makes such a difference. It’s done me the power of good. It’s good for your mental health too, especially in the current circumstances.

Typical Day's Food Before

  • Breakfast: Bacon on toast with butter
  • Lunch: Four sandwiches and two packets of crisps
  • Dinner: Something like steak and chips or a takeaway, followed by more crisps (I’m more of a savoury person than sweet)

Typical Day's Food Now

  • Breakfast: Porridge – I’ve tried lots of different breakfast cereals but porridge is the best at keeping me full until lunchtime
  • Lunch: Omelette or soup if I’m at home, or I make and bring a sandwich to work
  • Dinner: I eat a lot of chicken or fish, usually with a small amount of new potatoes and vegetables
  • Drinks: Calories from alcohol was never a problem for me – it was all about the food. I do enjoy a drink and include it in my calorie allowance. It’s usually my treat at the weekend.

Words by Tori Perrot

*Weight loss results can vary

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