Become a Butterfly

Have I mentioned my love of penguins? Well, ever since I was a child I have adored these comical black and white waddling birds so when Mr O suggested a trip to Artis Zoo in Amsterdam on Saturday I was very excited. I’m always thrilled to see penguins and I thought they would be the highlight of the afternoon but I have to admit that at 30 years old I loved every minute of our visit! I don’t think I’ve been to such a beautiful looking zoo! There were flower beds in bloom everywhere and you are so close to the animals. We saw lions, jaguars, tapirs, llamas, flamingos, gorillas, chimpanzees, elephants, giraffes, sea lions, snakes, lizards, an array of tropical fish and butterflies. I will write a blog to tell you more about my penguin obsession but today I want to tell you about how wondering in the tropical gardens in the hot house and watching the butterflies fluttering got me thinking. They got me thinking about making changes.

The saying goes that if nothing changed there wouldn’t be any butterflies and we would stay a caterpillar wiggling through life. Change no matter what form it takes can be very daunting and can be mixed with emotions but I want to focus with you now on making changes with a view to improving wellness, fitness and health. Over the past three years I have made a huge change. I’ve lost 15 stone which is a whole person. To put it into perspective that’s an Arnold Schwarzenegger! Loosing that weight didn’t just happen by accident. I knew that I had to make some changes in order to turn my wiggling into wings.

Looking at my lifestyle now which includes daily visits to the gym and cooking from scratch you would think that the change was radical but it wasn’t. When I decided that I wanted to lose some weight I didn’t set out to lose 15 stone. I paved a way of stepping stones and hopped to the next level once I was ready. I think setting goals is great, it gives us something to aim for but I think that when I was just starting out, saying that I was aiming to lose 15 stone would have been overwhelming and I don’t think it would have helped me on my journey. Instead I focused on making small steps to bring about positive change. Small changes are just that. Small steps in the right direction such as parking the car in the furthest spot in the car park to get to where you need to get to, making your own lunch to take into work, avoiding the chocolate temptation by the check out and treating yourself to a relaxing bath or facial instead of treating yourself with chocolate!   

I think this is how a lot of people fall down and struggle to get up again because we are putting too much focus on the end goal rather than putting the steps in place to make it happen. If you want to live in the penthouse you have to build the foundations first otherwise your swanky pad will end up in a pile of rubble! We are bombarded with messages from magazines, newspapers and social media about the latest fad or quick fix suggesting we should buy some kind of “slimming” tea which is basically some murky, dirty water in a mug that you struggle to swallow in order to get your body “beach” ready. Guess what folks?! You have a body! If you have a body, you are ready for the beach if that’s where you want to be! You do NOT have to look like one of the models on the Victoria Secret catwalk or on the front cover of a magazine to be beach ready – they look like that because they’ve been photographed at the right angle with the most flattering lighting, they’ve been photo shopped to remove any flaw or area of cellulite, had their hair coiffured and back combed within an inch of its life and the makeup artist has contoured their cheeks as if their Kim and Kayne’s life depended on it. What is more positive is getting your beach ready body to the beach, allowing the sun to make your skin glow and drink up the vitamin D, gently exercising in the form of a stroll taking in the sea breeze and the sand between your toes and then immersing yourself in the warm waters and having a swim.

I’m not preaching to the choir here as I still have insecurities over my body after all of the positive changes I’ve made. By making the positive changes in the form of healthy eating and exercise leading to the weight loss I have been left with a lot of loose skin which just hangs and can be a little problematic to contain. I chose to have the apron of skin that draped from my tummy removed just over a year ago and I’m considering some further skin removal and reconstruction. The loose skin on my arms and breasts are so proud of my weight loss that when I’m jumping around in the gym they give me a little clap, like a round of applause….or like Miranda Hart says, a bit like the breast clap when rolling over in bed! I do laugh at it but it really does affect me particularly when I’m with the lovely ladies in Bravisimo who have the patience of saints trying to find a bra to fit my small back size whilst containing my saggy boob skin. Therefore soon I’m off again for a consultation with Mr Ng, my surgeon from last time to talk about another operation. For me that is a daunting step but a change to be made which ultimately will make me feel better and more confident.

I think we can learn a lot from those fluttering butterflies. In order to get our wings we need to make small steps from being that caterpillar wiggling away. We need to realise that the quick fixes that promise instant results are not practical or sustainable. Metamorphosis does not happen overnight. It takes time, patience, cocooning and taking small positive steps will make a great difference. Just like us humans, those fluttering butterflies are all unique, have different colourings and patterns, no two being the same. I am me and you are you. I took a photograph of a butterfly in the hot house which had just landed on a palm leaf. Its outer wings had an eye catching pattern but then a few moments later it opened its wings to reveal the most gorgeous blue. This reminded me that no matter what we show the world on the outside, its what’s on the inside that counts. Let’s focus on us being healthy, happy, fit and well and let our true colours shine through.

My outer shell is not the most beautiful and it’s certainly not perfect but it’s been through one hell of a journey. I was a wiggly caterpillar and I’m glad to say that I’ve found my wings. Sometimes our wings have a bit of a wobble but every butterfly has to have a rest on a palm leaf. If anyone has an issue with my outer wings then I can tell them this. I may float like a butterfly but I can sting like a bee!

Ten Commandments – Part 2

6. COFFEE AND CAKE – you’ve said no thank you to the cake but coffee shops are guilty of concocting delicious coffee based drinks which are laced with sugar. Be smart and think about how much milk you are having. I worked out quickly that I still wanted to enjoy my cappuccinos and the way around this is by swapping to skimmed milk but asking for the cappuccino be skinny and dry. A good barrista will know what a dry cap is but it’s basically more foam rather than steamed milk. Less milk equals less calories! A dry skinny cap should weigh very little – it’s like a cloud in a cup.

7. GET RID OF THE TENTS – Once your clothing is too big get it out of your wardrobe. Whether you send it to the charity shop, sell it on ebay or swap with friends just get it out of your wardrobe because one you don’t want to get back to that size and two you need to make room for a new outfit to celebrate your process and the new you.

8. PAMPER YOURSELF – make time to look after you! Have a facial, go for a manicure or just have a nice long soak in the bath.

9. GOALS – set a goal. Not necessarily a weight goal  – for me it was getting to a size where I could buy a Burberry trench coat. The day I went into Burberry was a special day. I had to take my stylists, KB and PM with me.

10. LIVE – life is too short not to enjoy the special occasions. When it is your birthday, absolutely have the cake. Celebrate you another year of you!

Ten Commandments – Part 1

1. PLANNING – they say if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. They also say that a goal without a plan is just a wish. I don’t know about you but I’m always thinking in advance about what I’m wearing throughout the week and for events so why not think about what we will be doing during the week or month ahead when it comes to scheduling nutrition and work outs. I make an online grocery delivery to ensure that I cannot be tempted to sneak treats into my trolley whilst I’m hungry and more liable to cave (as I’d normally have to go to the supermarket after work when I’m hungry). Make sure you have food available which you know is good for you and you can reach for quickly that will actually fill you up – think protein like some cooked chicken or a rice cake. If you allow tempting treats cross your threshold you will end up eating them!!!

2. RECORD – I don’t know about you but I LOVE stationary. Every September I had to have a new pencil case, the latest smelly gel pens and at university I became obsessed with highlighters. These days as a busy barrister it’s all about the sticky tabs to flag things in documents, Mont Blanc pens and a leather bound Smythson notebook. Why not treat yourself to a pretty food diary. I have a food planner from Princess Planning. It’s pink, it has a pen holder, there are meal planners each week, shopping lists that you can write out, each day you can record exactly what you have eaten, how hydrated you are, your mood and your exercise. It is very easy to forget that biscuit you had at 11am when you reach for another one at 3pm so record everything and you’ll soon see results.

3. DO NOT BE A SLAVE TO THE SCALES – scales have their point but what are you going to gain from stepping on the scales first thing in the morning, after you’ve been to the loo, at the end of the day. You will just make yourself miserable. Weight fluctuates during the day depending on a variety of factors including where us ladies are at in our cycle. If you must have scales in your house be strict. Once a week is fine but why not take measurements. If you are exercising you may be losing inches but putting on weight in muscle. Muscle weights more than fat!  

A victory in Burberry

4. HAVE A SOCIAL LIFE – watching what you eat does not mean you turn from a social butterfly to a hermit under a rock. Going out for dinner? Look ahead at the menu online so you can decide in advance what you’d like to eat. Remember that you are the customer so restaurants will want to cater for you! Ask for no oil (be like me and take fry light and ask the chef to cook your food in that oil), ask for veggies to be steamed, salad without the dressing, sauce on the side, swap chips for a jacket potato. Don’t be embarrassed. You are taking control by enjoying life and getting results.

5. CHEERS – yes you can still enjoy a glass of something. I’ll just leave this one here for you….champagne and prosecco has less sugar than wine! You can even buy skinny prosecco.

Fall in Love with you <3

Oh wow, are they for me?!? Many a February 14th I’ve heard smug squeals of joy coming from down the corridor in the office over a delivery of red roses. It has the ability to fill singletons with dread and that used to be me and I felt pangs of jealousy that I didn’t have someone to send me flowers. Why should one day out of 365 in the calendar make those who haven’t yet found a partner or are happily single feel that they are alone or not loveable. We all know that V Day is a commercial exercise for card shops and the likes of M&S and restaurants to sell cards, chocolates, flowers, champagne and meals at an inflated price to keep them going after the post-Christmas slump….yet we still crave acknowledgment that we are loved.

I was often asked why I was single. After all I had a great job, my own flat and loads of friends and a loving family. Apparently I had a pretty face. If only I had a pound for every time someone said that to me.

Things changed for me when I had friends over for dinner to bring in the new year. One of my gay best friends Greg, not one to beat around the bush, asked me what I wanted to achieve in the coming year. I made some comment about achieving more at work. He then looked me in the eye and said Charlotte, what do YOU want to achieve this year. This was the first time I said it out loud and admitted that I wanted to try losing some weight. I’m the kind of person who when my mind is made up, I charge forward and I make things happen. I decided that 2016 was going to me my year and in that year I lost 10 stone.

I want to add a disclaimer to this. I am absolutely NOT advocating that losing weight solves all your issues. It totally doesn’t! It won’t make someone love you, it won’t bring you success and it won’t magic the perfect home/job/friends/family. Admitting out loud that I wanted to lose weight helped me achieve something much more which I think has ultimately led me to find Mr O. I learnt to love myself and helping myself by starting my weight loss journey was an act of self-love which then spring boarded me into a positive way of thinking. Never under estimate the power of positive mental attitude.

Keeping positive doesn’t just happen overnight and it’s something I have to work on and will need to continue working on. I have this inner voice who I like to call Nora Twatty who comes out occasionally (usually when I’m tired or a bit hormonal) and tells me that I’m not good enough, tells me that the baggy skin I’ve been left with as a result of a huge weight loss is ugly and that I should cover it up. Nora plays a part in my life and I don’t think she will ever fully go away and I think it’s good she comes to the table now and again if only to make me more determined to get back up and prove her wrong.

As I lost weight, my confidence grew and I learnt to love myself. I showed love to myself by fuelling my body with nutritional, wholesome food, I gave myself an endorphin high by going to the gym and building up the intensity gradually  and had a fortnightly manicure and pedicure instead of sitting on the sofa eating my feelings. People told me that the sparkle which had always been within me was showing on the outside in my eyes and smile. When I look back through my camera roll on my phone I can see over the weeks and months that I was coming into the spot light rather than trying to hide into the back ground of the photograph.

With this confidence and new found positivity I decided that I’d put myself out into the dating world. I had nothing to lose but potentially so much more to gain. I put my Simon Cowell hat on and was very choosy as to whom got a swipe right off me. I went on a lot of dates and for once in my life I went with zero expectations. I wasn’t imagining him being “the one” and me becoming Mrs What’s His Face. I just went along and enjoyed being present in the moment. There were a couple of bumps in the road, I was heartbroken once and it was at that point in March 2017 when I thought about jacking it all in. I sat in the Starbucks in Covent Garden as I was early for another date and I was very close to not going. Nora Twatty said what’s he going to like about you? You’re just wearing jeans and a jumper. Instead of thinking of what it might not be I focused on the might be’s. Even if I didn’t like him, I like rugby and steak (and yes in an age of female emancipation where we are all supposed to be equals I hoped that he’d buy me my fillet steak).

Self-love and positivity ultimately led me to meet Mr O. I feel so lucky to have met him in that pub one Saturday and the fun has continued until today however that would never have happened if I hadn’t learnt how to show myself love. Do I need him to buy me red roses to know that he loves me? I do love flowers (take note Mr O) but if I want flowers I walk to Colombia Road market on a Sunday and pick the ones that I want. Walking to Colombia Road is showing my body love as exercise helps not only my fitness (and I seriously wouldn’t have been able to have done that at 27 stone) but it gives me the peace and headspace in a busy, hectic city. I can just put my headphones in and listen to music and have the time out for me. Every week however I like to imagine that I’ve bought myself 21 red roses. These 21 roses represent every meal (breakfast/lunch/dinner) for the 7 days of the week. I do try to eat well but we only have life so if I do have a treat on one of those days it doesn’t mean that the rest of the week is wasted. If one of my 21 roses wilted i wouldn’t throw away the whole bunch.

So happy Valentine’s Day to YOU. Say it to yourself. Tell yourself that you love YOU. The relationship you have with yourself is the most significant, challenging and exciting and if you can find the person who loves the you that you love, then that is just fabulous.

The Perfect 10?

The perfect 10. It’s the number that throughout our lives we are told to aspire to, it’s a number that relates to determination, focus and success. As school children we aim to get ten out of ten in our spelling test and as we get older, particularly as women we are under pressure to reach the supposedly “perfect” 10 dress size. 

Bruno knows……..

I had a ten out of ten day today with my mum. We went shopping and I was on the lookout for a party dress. After a quick browse around a department store off I went into the changing room armed with an array of size 14 dresses only to find that none of them fitted! Having lost the weight that I have over the last couple of years I was disappointed. My inner voice, the one that is critical, puts me down and tells me I’m not good enough (let’s call her Nora Twatty for now) piped up. Nora whispered that I could do with loosing another stone… if the previous 15 I’d lost wasn’t enough. 

We left for the next shop and as I was pounding the street the real me kicked in and told Nora where to go. What was I doing? I was allowing a number, a label on a piece of clothing to define my worth. 

Next stop was one of my favourite shops, a real treasure trove and independent where you can find a one off without breaking the bank. A dress, THE dress, caught my eye immediately but just as soon as I saw this seasons print, an electric blue and black leopard print on a silky cream background my heart sank as my eyes drifted to the label and saw that the only size left was a 12. Why Charlotte, why are you allowing a number again to define you?! I looked at it and thought there was no way I’d get into it, after all I’m a 14 or a 16 right? Try it on the shop assistant urged and she also brought in other dresses from the same brand but in bigger sizes for me to try. I tried on the 14 first, a safe middle ground and it fitted my bottom half but was too tight on top (unusual for me as my derriere is certainly more Kardashian than Minogue). I tried on the 16 and it swamped my curves. I begrudgingly tried on the 12 and it fitted like a glove and I walked away a happy customer and may I add not just because it was the smaller size. I’d have bought that dress no matter what size because I loved it! 

Blue Leopard by Libby Loves

This not so unusual experience demonstrates how sizes across the highstreet and even within the same brand fluctuate so dramatically. It is frustrating but what irritates me more is allowing the numbers sewn into that dress or those jeans to dictate our worth. Our worth as people cannot be determined by the size of our clothes. There is more to us than the number on the scales, the grades on our university transcripts or the value in our bank accounts. We are individuals, there is only one you and that is worth so much in itself. 

Yes, I lost a lot of weight but I needed to, I was the ticking time bomb for all obseity related health woes such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The number decreasing on the scales did not give me worth. The fact that my gravitational pull on this earth is now less than it was two years ago does not make me more worthy or a better person. What it did give me though is self-confidence which is a different thing and is something I’m working on improving as the number on the scales or the dress size being less is not a magic wand to wave farewell to Nora . What it gave me is a worth that cannot be quantified and that is health, happiness and opportunities.

You may have gathered that I’m not the perfect 10…..or 12 or 14 or 16 for that matter. What is the perfect 10? You’d probably need to ask some Oxbridge or Ivy League professor to tell you and frankly do you have enough time to digest that?! We do need numbers to help us quantify things in our daily lives but let’s not correlate or determine our worth by a number that relates to the size of our clothing. If I’m lucky enough one day to have a child the only 10 I want them to be smashing is the door of 10 Downing Street. 

Walk a Mile in my Shoes….

I’ve had an unusual day today. Firstly, I had a whole day to myself!! My schedule is usually jam packed so I took the opportunity to have a day, in my own company, in London. KB is at a conference, Mr O is having a boys weekend in Dublin and my parents are sunning themselves at the Belmond in Mexico. Secondly, something truly historic, monumental and epic happened. I’ve returned home from my saunter around central London with exactly what I went looking for. I need to retire my current black patent heels which I keep in the office. They’ve served me very well (and they are ideal for desk to dinner and everything in between) but they are starting to look a bit scruffy so a new pair was needed. I didn’t just find any old pair though, oh no! I have come home with THE shoes. Shoes with red soles…..the ones you have to just close your eyes and enter the pin number into the card machine  because best not remember the price. Yes fellow slimmer’s in the city, I am the proud owner of a pair of Christian Louboutins!

So you may ask why this pair of red soled shoes are so monumental for me? I suppose every woman will remember their first pair of Loubs but for me it marks something so much more. Quite simply, my feet would have never squeezed into such a pair of shoes two years ago. My feet were so puffy and wide that if I had managed to stuff my feet into them I’d be spilling over the sides and there’s no way I could have walked in them dealing with the pressure. Plus the stiletto heel would have snapped under my immense weight. Today however was a different story.

I started my search off in Selfridges. Previously Selfridges would have only catered for my perfume, makeup and handbag addiction but now it can all be mine….ok, let’s not get too carried away! I don’t want you thinking I’ve got a problem! Why is it that when you are looking for something you can’t find it?! I swear before Christmas all I could see were black patent heels but today I was struggling. Dior could have provided me with black patent sling backs but they had the white ribbon with J’adore Dior (never have more true words been spoken Christian Dior) but not suitable for the office or to wear with black tights. Yves Saint Laurent could provide sky high patent black pumps but the heel was made up of the silver or gold metal YSL. A bit too high fashion for trotting around the office and the lady at Louis Vuitton said they are so uncomfortable. I’m a bit like a magpie so I’m always drawn to the sparkly offerings of Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo but I thought I’d chance my luck in Christian Louboutin. I immediately feel for the block patent heels with a rounded toe. They were available in nude or black, they were just the right height and I thought they were the ones. They didn’t have my size but my hunting instinct kicked in and I was determined that these shoes would be mine. They phoned around and my shoes were available in the Mount Street boutique.

Two years ago, if I wanted to go the short distance from Selfridges to Mount Street, I would have needed a taxi. These days however, as Mr O would say my piston legs were going, in fact I left him a voice note as to what I was doing and confused him greatly. I literally sprinted down Duke Street, through Grosvenor Square and down towards The Connaught, turning right onto Mount Street. I walked into Louboutin and the gentleman who greeted me immediately sensed that I was on a mission. He said he liked a lady who knew exactly what she was after and he said I clearly had taste as I put down my cross body silver Diorama calfskin bag. He brought the shoes out and I was sat on a red velvet chaise. Unlike two years ago when it would have been like the Ugly Sisters in Cinderella trying to stuff their feet into the glass slipper, this time my feet glided into the pumps. I stood up and walked to the mirror. I mean, they were practically already in the bag and walking with me down the road the moment they were on my feet.

I walked back out onto Mount Street swinging my bag feeling delighted. I could have just gone home but instead I decided to go for a walk…..just because I can! I love exploring Mayfair with the red brick buildings and Mount Street is one of my favourites as there are so many gems within yards of each other. Think Hélène Derroze at The Connaught, Scott’s of Mayfair and Sophia Webster who does the most beautiful shoes. I love my silver satin bejewelled butterfly flats – I see them every morning on my shoe rack and they give me such joy! Do you know what else gives me joy? I love the freedom that walking has given me. I love to walk anywhere and everywhere whereas before I wasn’t fit enough. My journey to wellness started with a bit of ambling but now it’s a full on fast sprint, knocking out tourists kind of walk when I need to be somewhere.  

Why don’t you come and walk a mile in my shoes then (for today though, not in my new Loubs but instead in knee high black suede boots from Duo who cater for any calf size from narrow to wide).  From Mount Street I went to Berkley Square and peered into Bentley and Rolls Royce and past Sexy Fish. Instead of walking up to Piccadilly I turned onto Dover Street and went past Victoria Beckham. I liked the door which slid open as I walked past. I zig-zagged my way through the streets until I hit Old Bond Street, the home of all the finest jewellers (see I told you I was a magpie). My absolute favourite is the oldest English jewellers, Boodles. I do own a few pieces, I love the ethos of the brand and that even 220 years on it’s still a family run business and the Wainwrights are very present.

Tulips from Amsterdam

The security guard noticed that I was wearing one of the Blossom collection tulip rings so we had a long chat outside whilst I finished my cappuccino. I’m never not wearing my tulip ring. My parents bought it for me when I passed my Bar exams. Before I received it I had also been admiring it as my Nanny had just passed away, she loved tulips and also grew them in her garden. I find it quite ironic that that my tulip means so much to me in honour of my Nanny and life has led me to the land of tulips to Mr O. I do feel that maybe Nanny had a plan all along.

I stopped chattering and walked past the Royal Academy, Burlington Arcade, Cecconis and Saville Row. Now if I was a man, I’d have to get my suits from Saville Row or Jermyn Street. It really disappoints me that the men I have worked with in city law firms have not tended to dress well. Where do I start but to summarise greying white shirts, dull ties and scuffed shoes! If you hadn’t guessed already, shoes are important along with tidy nails and good eyebrows. I paced up Regents Street and it was starting to rain so I thought I’d bob into a few shops whilst I was there. I went into Michael Kors and got chatting to one of the sales assistants as I was looking for a dress for my upcoming dinner out to Park Chinois for mine and Mr O’s valentines date. To be honest I think any new purchases in the next month need to honour the new Loubs and there was only one dress in there that would have matched. It was in the sale and even though it fitted I think a size up would have been more flattering – certainly do not want to look like I’m a sausage about to burst! I love a good sales assistant and this young woman is certainly going to go far and knows how to look after a customer.

As the rain was coming down I decided that it was home time. I looked at my phone and saw that I’d actually walked 8km…certainly more than just that mile in my shoes. Walking is a mundane thing for most people but for me it’s a constant reminder of how far I have walked in my shoes to get me to where I am today and that’s right here, tapping away about my day on my laptop and you guessed it wearing my new shoes! The name of the model of my Loubs is called Lady Gena so stay tuned because I predict that CWS and the Lady Genas are going to have some fun.

The Catalyst

Remember in Bridget Jones when she’s at her mother’s turkey curry buffet dressed like some dodgy 1970’s carpet? Mr Darcy makes a comment to his own mother within earshot of Bridget saying he’s not desperate enough to go out with someone like her and Bridget decides that that was the moment she would change things…..she wrote a diary and well the rest as they say is history! People ask me what was my moment. When did that light bulb go ding in my head to spark such a change? A change that would lead to a total transformation.

I was bringing in 2016 by having a New Year’s Eve dinner party at my new flat with friends. Earlier in the evening one of my gay best friends, Greg had presented me with a beautiful pink leather bound journal embossed with my initials CWS. After we watched the fireworks on my rooftop he asked me what I wanted to achieve in the coming year. He eventually wriggled it out of me. I think he could see me wanting to say out loud for the first time, admitting to myself that I wanted to lose some weight.

I was more than intelligent enough to realise that being the size I was wasn’t healthy in the long term. I think I’d always resigned myself to being bigger. I’d never tried dieting or exercising before because no one had pushed me to do it or was too polite to say and I guess those around me who loved me didn’t want to upset me. I’m a perfectionist so the pressure of being successful made me scared of failing.

The moment that really cemented the change and made me say to myself this really needs to happen was on the 2 January 2016 and I remember it clearly. It was a rainy day in London Town and I was with a friend. We had been on one of the London tourist buses and hopped (although at the size I was it was more like plopped) off to take a photo by Horseguards Parade. Looking back at this photo now I don’t recognise myself. Who is that girl? I don’t just mean my appearance. It’s difficult to explain and maybe my mind has shut off that girl because I’m angry and infuriated at myself for letting myself get to that point because I deserved to treat myself better (and by treating myself better we are obviously not just talking about buying myself even more gorgeous handbags).

From that day on, I was on a mission, a very secret mission. As secret as the naughty foods I used to eat and hide from people which helped me to get to that size. This time however I enlisted a secret agent called Sapan. He founded his own fitness studio (London Fields Fitness) with an ethos of affordable fitness for anybody. Gyms are typically seen as intimidating places by larger people but his gym is for anybody. By anybody I literally mean any body no matter your shape,  size or fitness. I didn’t want to be seen by anybody exercising so Sapan agreed to train me at 5am. He told me that it would be a challenge but that he would support me. Let’s just say that we didn’t get off to a flying start. I often wouldn’t turn up for sessions which obviously frustrated him as he was getting up so early. One of the best excuses was I couldn’t go as the door handle to my front door had broken so I was locked in.

Things that most people take for granted were difficult for me such as walking to the station to get to work. No joke the station is at the other end of my road, we are talking about a two minute walk here but embarrassingly I would struggle with that and take a taxi every morning to the office. Every morning I was regularly picked up by a lovely lady London cabbie and she is my angel and how appropriate that her name is Angela. On our morning drives we would get chatting and she mentioned that she went to Slimming World. She absolutely did not suggest or hint that I should go but something was registering in my brain and I got researching. I was nervous that going to a ‘group’ wasn’t for me and that it would be a bit like Marjorie Dawes in Little Britain. Eventually I plucked up the courage to go, accompanied by my angel Angie. I was petrified of stepping onto the scales. Everyone sat in the circle was so supportive and encouraging. I met another three amazing ladies there who I don’t just count as friends now. They are my London family and diamonds in the form of Julie, Jade and Casey.  Absolutely no shaming went on but I did it, I stood on those scales and I weighed in at just short of 27 stone.

I was devastated and shocked that it was such a big number but from that moment on I told myself that I would never ever see that number again. It was truly at that point that the lightbulb that went ding in my head on New Year’s Eve fully exploded and I was a woman on a mission. I actually turned up to my sessions with Sapan and I committed myself to healthy eating. It was daunting at first but the weight started coming off which made me want to do it even more.

All of this was happening but it was still a secret from everyone (apart from a select few). I didn’t even tell my parents.  After about two months people started asking me if I’d lost some weight so I started to open up about it. The momentum kept on going and two years later I’d gone from 27 stone to 12 stone.

My journey to wellness (because it’s not just about losing weight and as you’ve heard there have been bumps in the road) has been a huge achievement in my life. It took a lot of courage to say those words, take those steps and admit I had a problem. The greatest achievement however is having been lucky enough to have met, been inspired and have been supported by some truly wonderful people.

My life at 27 years of age at 27 stone was a good life and I was happy. I had parents who adored me along with a loving family, friends who took me for who I was, a good career and a lovely home. The journey is still continuing but at 30 years of age at 12 stone I still have everything I had before but my experience of life has been magnified to be a thousand times better, has given me opportunities and I  quite literally feel that a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.


I truly believe that I can do anything if I put my mind to it with hard work and dedication. If you are trying to do something which seems impossible just think of my story. I will always need to work hard not to fall off the horse but if I do I know I have the strength to get back up again. Talking of horses, two and a bit years on after that fateful lightbulb exploding moment photo was taken I found myself back at Horseguards Parade for the Trooping of the Colour. I had to have another photo taken, this time with Mr O by my side, wearing a pink dress and heels. There you go – life enriched and magnified. So what if you fall? Oh, but my darlings what if you fly?

(with a little bit of :
Dress – Mint Velvet,
Pashmina – Louis Vuitton,
Shoes – Hobbs,
Jewellery – Boodles)