Many of us have put on a few pounds during lockdown – leading to the coining of the affectionate phrase ‘corona curves’.
rom the furloughed and stuck-at-home to stressed key workers and those trying to homeschool, distancing from the fridge has been a real struggle.
But these inspiring slimmers have proved it has been possible to continue losing weight. And now, as restrictions ease, they’re looking forward to enjoying the lighter side of life.
For Rosie McVarnock, from Newtownabbey, that means getting out to the shops to replace her size 18 wardrobe with new size 12 clothes.
The 43-year-old mum-of-one signed up to Slimming World at the end of January, weighing 13st 12lbs.
She was less than two months into her journey when lockdown hit. Today she and other Slimming World members share their stories with Sunday Life.
“I thought to myself, ‘Do I give up or keep going?’,” Rosie says. “Our weekly weigh-ins were off so I went out and bought a set of scales so I could do it myself at home.”
“Our wonderful group leader Clare McIvor started running sessions on Zoom instead, and we had a Facebook and WhatsApp group so we could all continue to support each other,” she adds.
“We even started mapping our daily walks on our phones and seeing who could come up with the best shapes on apps like Strava.”
Rosie was furloughed with time on her hands, so she decided to teach herself how to cook. Before joining Slimming World she’d had a diet of ready meals, takeaways, nuts, chocolate and her favourite McCoys flame-grilled steak crisps.
“Being at home gave me time to learn how to cook from scratch,” she says. “I can now make a lovely chicken curry and salted chilli chicken. My lasagna’s not bad either – although it tastes better than it looks.
“Now I’m down to 10st 11lbs and I’ve got so much more energy to run around after my son Kaiden (6). He thinks it’s brilliant. My bum is small enough to sit on the swings and go down the slide in the park.”
Another Slimming World member, Daune Allen from Portaferry, is still midway through her journey, so she was determined not to be derailed by lockdown.
Daune joined Jonene Fatooros’s Millisle group in January, weighing 31st 4lbs, a dress size 32. Her goal is to get down to 18st for her 40th birthday next August.
She has lost almost 6st so far – much of which she’s shed during lockdown.
“I was diagnosed with diabetes type 2 last year,” she explains. “My doctor told me I needed to go on a diet. I had issues with my knees too. I just decided it was time to do something about it.”
Before joining Slimming World, Daune tended to skip breakfast, before a lunch of white bread sandwiches, burgers or sausage rolls, with crisps and chocolate.
She spent her evenings after work snacking on junk foods, admitting she could have got through a multipack of chocolate bars in one sitting. Now Daune has swapped her unhealthy habits for a breakfast of Weetabix and banana, tuna salad for lunch and a healthy stir fry at dinnertime. Her snacks are fruit and yoghurt.
She says social media has been a godsend to keep her on the right track during the pandemic.
“Our group leader Jonene started running her sessions on Zoom instead, which was a big help,” Daune says. “I’ve also been posting my progress on Facebook. Every week on a Thursday I post photos and say how much weight I’ve lost that week. I also regularly post pictures of my meals and other tips.
“My friends have been so encouraging, leaving lovely supportive comments, and that’s really kept me going. People have told me they can already see the difference my diet is making and that really spurs me on.”
John Kennedy, from Kilyman in Dungannon, has lost an impressive 3st during lockdown, overseen by his personal trainer Rodger Greenaway, who runs The Fitness Shed in Clonmore, and his sister Barbara.
The 28-year-old, who is a full-time carer for his mum, weighed 26st and had a 60-inch waist when he first met Rodger last June. “I think I was even heavier at one point,” he admits. “When I stood on the bathroom scales I was too heavy to even get a reading, it just zeroed out.”
John started comfort eating in primary school, when his big brother Robert tragically passed away from leukaemia aged 16. By his own admission, he began eating “anything and everything”.
As a young adult caring for his mum, John helped with the weekly shop, and would stack his trolley with biscuits and cakes in Tesco.
“I’d eat all the biscuits in the house,” he says. “I lived on takeaways – I’d have a chippy on Monday night, Chinese on Tuesday, then back to the chippy on Wednesday.
“I was so unhealthy that I couldn’t even stand up for any length of time before my back started hurting.”
The turning point came when John’s sister Barbara began working out with Rodger, and nagged John to join her. Eventually he relented.
He remembers: “I’d tried gyms before, but Rodger was different, he really cared. He designed a personal fitness and nutrition plan for me, and workouts that me and Barbara could do together.”
When lockdown hit, John needed to shield to protect his mum, so only left the house once a day for a walk. He was initially worried about gaining weight again, but Rodger devised a home workout plan to keep him going. “He changes it regularly, but it involves things like press ups, squats, leg stretches, burpees and sit ups,” John explains. “He kept in touch and kept monitoring me; keeping me going.”
John has now lost an impressive 10st – shedding 3st of that during lockdown. “It’s changed my life,” he smiles. “I have so much more energy now. People who’ve known me for years walk past me in the street and don’t even recognise me.
“I’ve even learned to cook and I eat vegetables with my dinner for the first time – although I still treat myself to a takeaway once a week.”
To work out with Rodger Greenaway, find The Fitness Shed Online on Facebook.
To find your nearest Slimming World group call 0344 897 8000 or log on to www.slimmingworld.co.uk