I love being back on stage!

I love being back on stage!

Singing with her band for the first time since her 20s, and a slinky size 10 after losing over 5st*, 49-year-old Donna Mitchell from Newcastle-under-Lyme is rocking it!

‘Stepping out onto the darkened stage, I gazed at the expectant faces of the audience. I spotted my husband, Steve, grinning broadly, while beside me the electric guitar began to hum. It was my first time back singing with the band I’d joined in 1988, Hollywood Nites, and it was a moment I never thought I’d see. Because for the last few years, I’d been convinced my performing days were over…

‘Back in 2008, when I was pregnant with my son, Alex, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a condition where the colon becomes inflamed, and prescribed high-dosage steroids. My appetite increased and thanks to my diet of fatty food and takeaways, I gained 6st in around 18 months.

‘After an operation to remove my colon, which meant I needed a temporary ileostomy bag attached to the outside of my tummy, I felt less confident about leaving the house. Once my treatment was complete in 2011 and the bag had been removed, I felt ready to tackle my weight and joined my local Slimming World group.

Steve supported me from day one, helping me plan and cook Food Optimising meals. We’d been in the habit of having a high-Syn lasagne and chips or a takeaway for dinner, and found we could still have our favourite meals, including curry – done Slimming World style!

‘I'd become much more adventurous in the kitchen and started enjoying a wider variety of food – I didn’t cook fish at all before, so it was amazing to be able to make my own chip shop-style meal. Over time I lost the 6st I’d gained and felt great.

'Just as I was getting into the swing of maintaining my slimmer figure, I fell ill with whooping cough and pneumonia. I started slipping back into my old eating habits and as my weight crept up, I became demotivated and stopped going to group.

‘It was a family day out at a theme park that changed everything. As I climbed into the seat of a children’s ride with Alex, I couldn’t get the safety bar to fasten. I sucked in my tummy while Steve forced down the bar for me, hoping nobody was watching our struggles. After it eventually clicked into place, Steve took a photo of Alex and me – somehow I managed to force a cheery smile. ‘That’s it,’ I thought. ‘I’m going back to group.’

‘The group and Consultant, Emma, couldn't have been more welcoming when I walked back through the doors and, discovering I was 15st 5lbs, I got straight back on plan. After a great start, my weight loss started to slow down, so I decided to focus on getting loads of Speed Free Foods into my meals – and it worked. I felt reenergised and the weight started to come off again.

As I got slimmer, we started taking gentle family walks together. Now I’ve got so much energy I can kick a ball around the park with Alex – he’s a very keen footballer!

‘By the time I was asked to sing with Hollywood Nites again in 2015, I was feeling much better about myself – at 47, I pulled on my rock-and-roll outfit and thigh-high boots, put on my make-up and stepped out into the spotlight. I’m performing with them every weekend now and I feel like I’m back to my best. This time, I’m at target and I know I’m going to carry on Food Optimising whatever life throws at me!’

*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose

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