A Cambridge woman has been named Slimming World’s Diamond Member of the Year for her incredible weight loss journey that has seen her lose seven stone.
Business owner Linda Stearn has maintained her weight loss for 12 years after going from a size 24 to a size 12.
Her journey was not an easy one as she suffered from anxiety, panic attacks and depression along the way but she is now sharing the secret of how she managed it.
Linda, 62, has reflected on the emotional and physical strain she has gone through as she was “deeply unhappy” with the way she looked.
She started gaining weight in her teens when working in a newsagents, where she would spend her days snacking on sweets and chocolates.
She continued to struggle later in life as she gained weight with each of her three pregnancies.
Her final straw came after the sad death of her mother.
With the strain of grief and uncertainty at work, Linda’s mental health took a turn for the worst.
This is when she realised her weight was an added factor to her struggles and she decided to join her local Slimming World group.
Linda said: “After my mother died, I went through 12 months of difficulty at work – two life-changing events which I had no control over. This led to a difficult period filled with anxiety, panic attacks and depression. My weight just seemed to contribute to this even further.
“Having been to a Slimming World group in the past, I knew that the support I would get from my Consultant and fellow members would help me deal with my weight once and for all – it was one thing I could finally take control of.
“As soon as I walked through the door, I knew that I’d done the right thing,” she remarked.
“I was shocked when I saw the number on the scales, but my Consultant reassured me that I could lose the weight for good.
“And with the support of her and my group to help me be committed and accountable, I knew I absolutely could.”
Linda has now been named Slimming World’s Diamond Member of the Year 2021, a title that celebrates members who have successfully maintained their target weight.
Linda reflected on what life was like when she weighed more than 17 stone and said: “I was always the comedian, making jokes about myself before anyone else did.
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“Deep down I was not in a good place. I even faked an illness once to get out of going to a New Year’s Eve party, because I was so deeply unhappy with the way I looked.”
Linda also explained her weight got in the way of doing her job properly: “I have my own cleaning company and it became increasingly difficult to do my job before I lost weight.
“I found it hard having to go up and downstairs, and even simple tasks like bending and being able to get up and down were difficult for me.
“I had problems with my knees and was even turned down for a knee operation because of my weight – I was told my size made me too much of an anaesthetic risk.”
Linda said she was overwhelmed by the support she received when she decided to join her local Slimming World group.
As for what Linda’s secret is to maintaining her weight loss is, she revealed: “My only answer to that question is to join a group. It really is the best place to form and stick to new habits. It’s been key to my success. If I ever had moments of self-doubt, I found discussing this with Karen and the other group members really helped to keep me on track.
“Slimming World has helped me to completely change my lifestyle for the better – and I’m so much more confident and happier in every aspect of my life, I now buy clothes because I like them, not just because they fit and have since undergone surgery without me having to worry about my weight at all.
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