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Introducing our Total Loser winner 2017!

Saturday 13th May was the awards day for the Total Loser 2017 body transformation competition. The winner of a £2,000 holiday was Clare Watson - she lost an incredible 48lbs and 10cm from her belly button in just 12 weeks.

This is her story...

Over the last 20 years, I have steadily put on weight after failed yoyo dieting, until I reached a massive 28 dress size. My need to lose weight and get fit was not something I was not painfully aware of. I didn’t suddenly look in a mirror and notice how fat I had become. The problem was that I seemed paralysed to do anything about it - it was always something I would sort out tomorrow, but tomorrow never seemed to come.

My weight and fitness were compounded by difficulties at work. My career has always been important to me, but after moving to a new company 18 moths earlier, I found myself the victim of a bullying boss. The confidence I has as a 20 and 30 something was totally eroded and I found myself at an all-time low but managed to keep a good face on things to friends and family.

In January of this year things got even worse, I had a massive shock. I was diagnosed with MS, a degenerative disease of the nervous system, caused by my own immune system.  Although currently its effects on me are sporadic and minimal, it will almost certainly worsen as I get older. It is an unpredictable disease but mobility issues are a possibility for me later in life.

I was stunned. But in a bizarre way, it had a massive silver lining, it was the kick up the rear I needed. The tomorrow which never seemed to come, has suddenly arrived. I had to do something about this. Although my diet and fitness could not prevent or improve the underlying condition, losing weight and being fitter would help me deal with the physical fall out.

3 days after my diagnosis, I received an email from Total Fitness about the Total Loser programme. It seemed fated – it was just what I needed. I also found a new job and left the bullying behind. It was a new start.

I remember writing my whys and goals as clearly as if it was yesterday.

  1. I wanted to prepare myself to better cope with MS if it worsens as I grow older.
  2. I wanted to avoid diabetes (which was where I was most certainly headed) – the thought of coping with another disease on top of MS was just too much!
  3. I wanted to feel proud of myself again
  4. I wanted to be able to shop in ‘normal’ stores not just plus size.
  5. I wanted to be fit enough to climb up the hills where my father’s ashes were scattered as I had not felt able to since we lost him to cancer 3 years ago. I missed my Dad and felt ashamed that I could not visit his ashes.

Writing these down, I cried buckets. I was an emotional process and a big release – who knew the therapy was part of the package! Shortly afterwards, I later discovered the advice from the programme was that if your whys don’t make you cry, they are not strong enough, and felt justified! That’s the biggest single truth about this whole experience. For 20 years I have battled with my weight. I have never been able to stick to a diet nor persevere with exercise. But now, with the right whys and a lifestyle change rather than a ‘diet, I not only feel like I can achieve what I want to, I KNOW I can.

So how has life changed for me? Massively and for the better.

I used to cling to every last second of sleep in the morning.  I am now a 6am gym goer.

I used to hate exercise and would ‘play’ at half-hearted attempts, kidding myself I was exercising. I now love my training sessions, laughing as much as I sweat (Fifty Shades references to the ‘red room of pain’, flashing fellow TL friends, barking like an agility dog during circuits and nearly losing my leggings running around the track help).

I used to skip breakfast and eat most of my food after 8pm at night. I now breakfast like a King (or should that be Queen), ensure I get a good lunch and eat a lighter dinner in the evening.

My diet was 2/3s starch - potatoes, pasta and bread. I now thrive on lean protein and a rainbow of veg. I have always loved cooking and the great thing is I still do! The food programme is not dull – it’s still exciting and I am having fun adapting my favourite recipes. I love my food!

I used to drink a bottle of wine a night, even more if I’m honest at weekends, then throw coffee down my neck in the morning. Now I drink 2-3 litres of water a day and am a green tea drinker! I treat myself to a small glass of red wine if I’ve been good at the weekend.

I used to avoid stairs like the plague. I now run up them, doing on average 25-30 flights of stairs at work a day. My office is on the ground floor (where there is a printer) but I have deleted it from my computer so I have to go to the 2nd floor printer to collect my outputs which I do a lot in the day!. It’s great fun and I am often caught singing the Rocky theme as I run up them and pose at the top with my hands in the air (check out the first Rocky movie to know what I’m talking about!).

I used to find it difficult to put on socks and tie my laces (yes I was that bad). I now can’t believe it was ever a problem. I used to be tired all the time. I’m now a bundle of energy despite my very demanding job and long hours.

I started the programme perpetually in black gym leggings and baggy black t-shirts. I am not the proud owner of some rather snazzy bright pink stripey lycra and I’m not afraid to wear it!

My smile was often a mask for how I was really feeling, now it’s real.

So a lot has changed, but have I reached the goals I set in my whys?

  1. MS? I still have a long way to go, but I am no longer scared that I won’t be able to cope with my disease. Not only has this programme set me on the right path to losing the weight I need to and get 1000% fitter, it’s given me the right frame of mind to deal with the disease too.
  2. Diabetes? Well I’m not a doctor but I reckon it’s safe to say that I have just reduced my risk substantially!
  3. Am I proud of myself again? You bet! I feel like I glow! I have found my mojo and I’m not afraid to show it! My family and partner are also proud of me. I’ve also re-discovered my confidence.
  4. Plus size? Well, I’m still in a large size but I can now buy a size 22 in M&S something I’ve not been able to do for over 8 years. I’ve never been so excited in a changing room! The cubicle next door must have thought something dodgy was going on due to my squealing with joy!
  5. My hills? (or mountains as they were in my mind). Well I have been up to where my Dad’s ashes were scattered at Captain Cook’s Monument 3 times now. Getting up there was very emotional the first time, I sobbed if I’m honest. Partly through grief but also because I was so happy to feel connected to Dad again and proud I had made it. I’ve also gone one further than I had hoped and climbed an even bigger one - Roseberry Topping which was our favourite walk when I was a child. Up there I will feel on top of the world and I can’t wait!

My whys and goals are ticked off or on track so I am setting myself new ones - some big, some small. I want to get around the track in our 45 second interval (I’ve got it down to 58 seconds from not being able to run all the way around!).

I have entered the Teesside Pride fun run this Sept – I’ve not even run for a bus since school! I want to be in a size 18 before my 47th birthday in September. I want to climb Helvellyn again like I did in my twenties. I’d like to be able to give my partner a run for his money at his favourite game, badminton.

The point is that I now know all of these things are possible. For me, Total Loser has not been about losing weight (although I’ve lost an amazing 47lbs!), it’s been about changing my life permanently and discovering that anything is possible. It’s given me my confidence back. The programme, the central support, our PT trainers and my new friends from the group have all made me see things so much more clearly. I can do all these things if I set my mind to it, I’m stronger than I gave myself credit for. Total Loser is just the start. Thank you.  #ThisGirlCan.