I refused surgery, and lost 17½st with Slimming World
Maxine Wren, 39, from Chester-le-Street in County Durham, turned down weight-loss surgery despite being told that she could die within a year. Now 17½st* lighter and 13 dress sizes smaller, Maxine has been crowned Slimming World’s Woman of the Year 2018.
‘I was born with a rare bone condition, called Blount’s disease, that affected my mobility and I started gaining weight from an early age. I’d lie in bed watching my sister play outside and, seeing how upset I was, my mum and dad would cheer me up with cake and custard creams. By the time I was 16, I was a size 24 and would always make excuses about why I couldn’t go out with friends. The sadder I was, the more I ate, and I’d think nothing of eating a whole tray of cakes, or takeaways night after night.
‘My health was getting worse – I started suffering from heart problems and PCOS, and at my biggest I struggled to walk and needed crutches. I tried to get my weight under control with calorie-controlled shakes and fad diets, but eventually resigned myself to the fact that I was meant to be big. I painted a smile on my face, but inside my heart was broken.
‘My GP gave me the stark news that I needed to do something about my weight, or I could die. He prescribed me slimming pills and referred me for a gastric bypass operation. The pills made me feel so poorly that I had to stop taking them – I knew I had to find another way. A week later, my sister told me she was pregnant and it was just the incentive I needed to change my life. I didn’t want to die on the operating table and never meet my nephew.
‘Shortly afterwards, a Slimming World leaflet came through the door and it felt like a sign. Even though I knew people who had been successful with Slimming World, I was still petrified and it took me three weeks to actually walk through the doors. I worried that the other members would stare at me or that I was so big I’d break the scales. This was my last chance, though, and I had to do it.
Everyone was really friendly, so I had nothing to worry about. And I lost a massive 12lbs in my first week! For the first time in my life, it felt like there was light at the end of the tunnel.
‘I began following the Food Optimising eating plan and swapped buttery toast and convenience foods for healthy home-made meals. I learnt how to make my favourite takeaway dishes from scratch, even a Slimming World-style kebab – it’s really satisfying and it tastes naughty, but it’s not at all.
‘Every week after group I’d sit down and plan what I was going to eat. In my first year I lost 10st, and started going swimming – something I never thought I’d do. I bought a Fitbit and began clocking up the steps, even taking my nephew to the park to get in some extra activity.
‘In August 2016 I married my partner, John, wearing a size 8/10 wedding dress. The day was a dream come true – words can’t describe how special it was to walk down the aisle less than half the woman I was. For the first time in my life, I liked the way I looked – and on my wedding day I felt like a princess.
‘I love being part of the social team at my Slimming World group and supporting other members – I’ve also made really great friends that I wouldn’t be without. Five years after starting my journey, I went to thank my doctor for giving me the wake-up call that helped save my life. I feel so much better about myself and so proud of how far I’ve come.
‘I hope I’m proof to people that there’s never any amount of weight you can’t lose. Everything’s changed and I don’t hide away any more. I always say that Slimming World didn’t just save my life, it’s given me life.’
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose.
*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.