A woman has revealed her motivation for kickstarting an almost 5st weight loss journey was a photo of herself at a baby shower.
Joanna Wojcik, 38, from Alsager, Cheshire, was inspired to overhaul her lifestyle after being left "upset" by the image, taken at her friend's celebration, when she weighed 14st 10lb.
Having ditched the ready meals and takeaway pizzas she'd turned to for convenience while working long night shifts at a nursing home, she instead opted for healthy, home-cooked meals.
The switch saw her lose 4st 9lbs, a third of her body weight, with the mum-of-two now weighing a trim 10st 1lb.
The transformation also saw Wojcik drop four dress sizes, going from a size 16 to a size 8.
Wojcik said she had never had any major struggles with her weight during her 20s and says she returned to her regular size after the births of her two daughters.
But around six years ago, she saw her weight start to creep, which she puts down to the convenience food she was eating while working long hours in her demanding job.
"If you work full-time, it does affect you," she explains.
"I never planned any meals, I just used to have ready-made meals, or order pizza or have takeaways.
"I never thought that I could cook healthy food. And I didn’t know how to do it."
The impact of her diet also took its toll on other aspects of her health.
"I was always struggling to sleep because of very bad back pain," she explains. "I also struggled to go for longer walks.
"And when I was at work, I was often short of breath. I didn’t exercise at all."
While she tried various diets, she describes often getting bored of them and seeing any weight loss quickly return.
"It was horrible," she says of how she felt about her body at the time. "I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know where to get help from.
"I wasn’t happy as nothing fitted me," she continues. "If I liked something, I couldn’t wear it, and it didn’t look right on me because I was bigger.
"When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t like myself."
The turning point came after being left feeling "frustrated" at the photo of herself, taken in December 2021.
"It made me angry and upset," she explains. "I felt like I had to do something."
Wojcik joined her local Slimming World group with a friend in January 2022 and lost a stone within a month.
She says the group has been revolutionary for her and she has learnt culinary skills that will stay with her for life.
Now, instead of ordering a pizza at work, she will prepare lighter options such as pasta carbonara and risotto - using a ‘one calorie spray oil’ to cut down on fats.
"It was so easy, but I did stick to the plan 100 per cent," she says.
She describes the results of overhauling her lifestyle as being "life changing".
"I love myself now," she explains. "I’m just happy.
“It’s life-changing. I no longer think ‘What should I buy, what should I eat’ I just know, because over the last couple of years I've learnt what to choose.
"I know what to do and how to have a healthy lifestyle," she adds.
Wojcik also believes her transformation has helped her become a better mum to her two kids Oliwia, 17, and Kornelia, 12, having learned to swim after losing weight.
"Before I didn’t want to go and do anything, do any exercise, but now I’m more energetic," she explains.
"My daughters love swimming as well, so it is something we can do together, and spend time together.
"And I absolutely love doing aqua fitness classes."
After achieving her target weight last February, Wojcik has maintained her weight loss and is now a Slimming World consultant herself.
Wojcik's typical daily diet before:
Breakfast: toast - white bread with butter or sandwiches, cereals with sugar.
Lunch: cinnamon rolls, biscuits
Dinner: meat with fat, cooked in oil or ready meals
Snacks: crisp, cheese, cakes, chocolate bars
Joanna's typical daily diet now:
Breakfast: two Weetabix with blueberry, strawberry and raspberries, sometimes with banana, measured semi-skimmed milk.
Lunch: Fruits, omelettes or eggs cupcakes and salads
Dinner: chicken drumsticks, without skin, with potatoes, cabbage, canned tomatoes and dill – and fresh carrot thinly grated, with a little bit of sweetener
Additional reporting SWNS.
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