After losing an amazing eight stone two pounds and winning a local slimming competition, the only thing that’s big about Larne woman Paula Smyth is her zest for life and being able to breathe easy.
Paula lost weight with Slimming World at the Monday morning group held in Larne Library every week and has dropped from a dress size 24 to a size 10 in just 17 months. And her transformation hasn’t gone unnoticed as a target member since May this year, Paula has just been named as the group’s Woman of the Year 2012.
On Sunday, Paula went forward to the Northern Ireland regional finals of the competition held at the Hilton Hotel in Templepatrick. This year Downtown Radio broadcaster Candy Devine, announced Paula as a worthy winner of the title of District Woman of the Year for Northern Ireland putting her in the running for the national title on October 9 at Slimming World head office in Derbyshire.
Slimming World’s Woman of the Year competition recognises the achievements of women in making long-term healthy lifestyle changes for themselves and their families.
Paula joined Slimming World in January 2011 after becoming increasingly unhappy with her weight and the health risks associated with her asthma condition.
She said: “I have always been overweight as a chubby child which continued well into my adult life. I tried lots of different diets but they usually left me feeling hungry and miserable and I would give up and go back to my old ways eating junk. Thankfully, Slimming World was completely different, I never have to go hungry and I’m the happiest and healthiest I’ve been in years!”
The mum-of-two who has suffered from asthma for years, realised she was just the on-looker during family trips out. While her husband had all the fun with their two children Katy and Charlie, she found herself standing in the sidelines holding the coats. However, once Paula started following Slimming World’s food optimising eating plan almost a year and a half ago, everything started to change.
Now, Paula’s entire family fills up on unlimited amounts of everyday foods like fruit and vegetables, lean meat and fish, pasta, potatoes, rice and pulses which are all filling foods yet naturally quite low in calories and fat. “
“I know a lot of people worry about joining a slimming club as they don’t know what to expect. But from the minute I walked into Sarah Leavey’s Slimming World group my life changed. The support I’ve received from Sarah and the rest of the members in group has been brilliant,” adds Paula. “At first I was really nervous, especially about stepping on the scales, but no one has ever made me feel embarrassed or ashamed. Straightaway I was made to feel welcome and now it’s like a morning out with friends. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
“I never dreamt I could achieve so much, it’s made such a huge difference – it’s changed my life. I’ve got so much more energy and I can do things now that I couldn’t before. My fitness has improved – I enjoy being active with my family now rather than thinking of it as a chore or sitting on the sidelines.
“Most of all I don’t have to rely so much on my asthma medication to get me through the day. I can breathe easy even when I do exert myself a little more than usual. I’m much healthier, and when I’m out shopping I can pick clothes off the rail without worrying if they’ll fit or not. I feel like a winner already, and being voted as the Monday morning group’s Woman of the Year 2012 is the icing on the cake.
“But when Candy Devine announced my name as district winner on Sunday I was absolutely knocked for six.”
Sarah Leavey, who runs the Monday groups in Larne Library and the Tuesday group in Corran Integrated Primary School, said: “I’m so proud of Paula. Not only does she look gorgeous, she’s improved her health and is bursting with energy and for her to be picked to represent Northern Ireland in the national finals next month is so exciting for me as her consultant and for all our members. She’s a huge inspiration to everyone in our group and I hope she inspires other women in Larne to change their lives in the same way.”
The Larne Library Slimming World groups are held every Monday at 10am and 7pm every week. Sarah also runs the Slimming World group in Corran Integrated Primary School on Tuesday at 7.30pm. To find out more call Sarah Leavey on 07706 803444.