Looking to tackle her comfort eating, Caroline Palmieri, from Warminster, Wiltshire, discovered an incredible support system that would help her lose 3st 12½lbs* and stay slim through her pregnancies.
‘As I walked into a Slimming World group for the first time, my nerves were jangling. My daughter, Effie, was four months old and I felt ready to get back into my pre-baby clothes.
‘I’d been eight months pregnant when I’d moved to Devon with my husband, Matt, who is in the Army. My friends and family were hundreds of miles away and, feeling lonely, I’d been comforting myself with daily cream teas and cake. Now, as my bubbly Consultant, Lisa, chatted away during her welcome talk, I listened, then said: ‘Hang on, are you telling me I can eat pasta, rice and potatoes and still lose weight?’ She nodded. ‘Sign me up!’ I replied.
‘That night, I planned my dinners for the next week and wrote a shopping list. I bought everything I needed to make Food Optimising versions of all my favourite rice, potato and pasta dishes – I swapped oil for low-calorie cooking spray, used sweetener instead of sugar, cut the fat off all my meat and made sure I filled at least a third of my plate with Speed Free Foods.
‘Instead of skipping breakfast, I waited until Effie was napping, then cooked scrambled eggs with grilled lean bacon and two slices of wholemeal toast (my Healthy Extra ‘b’ choice). If I was in a rush to get to a baby group, I filled my handbag with apples and tangerines, then had a proper meal afterwards, like a jacket potato with my Healthy Extra ‘a’ portion of cheese and a bowl of Free home-made soup packed with veg. In my first week, I lost 3½lbs.
The number on the scales continued moving in the right direction and the group kept my motivation firing.
‘All my past attempts at slimming had made me feel tired, anxious and trapped – whether I was spending hundreds of pounds on weight loss supplements, crash dieting, or just eating less and feeling miserable. Now I was cooking nutritious meals that I really enjoyed – and I reached my target of 10st 7lbs in May 2014.
‘Being slim completely changed my morning routine. Instead of feeling stressed about what to wear, I pulled something out of the wardrobe and slipped it on. I was feeling great about myself and I wanted it to stay that way. So when we moved to Tidworth in Wiltshire, I joined the local Slimming World group where I was warmly welcomed by my new Consultant, Tracey, and the other members.
‘Just weeks later, I had some surprising news… I was pregnant. Knowing that Slimming World works with the Royal College of Midwives, my midwife said she’d be happy for me to follow Slimming World’s guidelines for mums-to-be. Next, I had a chat with Tracey, who gave me guidance on how to continue Food Optimising when pregnant.
‘Like before, I could eat to satisfy my appetite and, as well as increasing my Healthy Extras, I was mindful of including some fish and filling up on a varied diet with lots of salad, fruit and greens. I felt brimming with health and really enjoyed my pregnancy.
‘Our son, Gene, arrived just before Christmas 2014 and I couldn’t wait to show him off to Tracey and the other members. After a lovely Christmas, I took him along to group with me to find out my post-baby weight. When I stepped on the scales, I couldn’t believe it – I’d lost 17lbs. I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing and neither could my friends. With Tracey’s support, I set myself a new target of 9st.
Just shy of five months later, with my baby fast asleep in his buggy next to me, and surrounded by my friends at group, I learned I’d reached my new target.
‘With my confidence soaring, I posted my weight loss transformation on Instagram (@slimming_world_mummyx3) and dozens of messages pinged through. One girl said: If I can do half of what you’ve done, joining will be worth it. I sent her pictures of my Food Optimising meals, showing her how much I was eating, and she joined straight away. We kept in touch and she’s since lost 7st!
‘Then something happened to bring more happiness into our lives – I was expecting again. This time, I knew I had all the tools I needed to get back to target once our new baby arrived.
‘When I was six months along, we moved to Warminster and I joined another Slimming World group. And, yet again, the members and my new Consultant, Linda, were so welcoming. A few weeks after our son, Art, was born, I went along to group not knowing what to expect… and weighed in at 9st 5lbs. I was only a few pounds heavier than I’d been at the beginning of my pregnancy – it felt like a great start to an exciting new chapter of family life.
I was so glad that Food Optimising had become a way of life, as my three little ones definitely kept me busy!
‘Before I joined Slimming World, I’d read other people’s success stories in magazines and think I had more chance of winning the lottery than losing weight. How wrong I was. With the support of my wonderful Consultants and all my friends at group, I’ve won the real lottery: becoming a healthier, happier me. It feels like a dream come true.’
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose
You'll find more delicious recipe and menu ideas at your local group, along with all the help you need to get started and reach your target weight.