Inspirational Debbie Cundy dieted and exercised her way to a slimmer, healthier life, raising thousands for charity along the way.
She dieted her way from a size 24 to a 14 and has now raised over £20,000 for Sheffield’s Weston Park Hospital Charity.
Now the 46-year-old qualified chef from the Stannington area of Sheffield has become a dieting and life coach and hopes to inspire others to look at changing their lives.
Q. Is exercise the way you now manage your weight?
A. Yes and I really enjoy it - I do boxing, swimming, bike-riding and walking. I started doing exercise-related charity events to support good causes and keep my weight under control at the same time. It’s a fantastic way of getting fit and meeting people. And when you know you are helping others by raising sponsorship money it is so rewarding. I have abseiled down the Hallamshire Hospital twice for Weston Park, done the 40-mile British Heart Foundation Sherwood Pines Mountain Bike Challenge four times, the 20-mile Park to Park bike ride for Bluebell Wood Hospice, the Derwent Valley Bike Challenge and recently did the BigPedal bike ride for Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity, a 35.5 mile event, and raised £745. My next bike event will be in October, a 40-mile off-road event for BHF once again.
Q. How much did you weigh at your heaviest and how much do you weigh now?
A. At my biggest I was nearly 21 stones. The least I have ever weighed is 11.3 stones but I feel at my happiest around 12.5 stones, which is what I am now and is fine for my height - I’m 5’11 inches tall. I was a size 24 and now I’m size 14.
Q. How did you feel when you were 12 stones heavier?
A. At the time my weight didn’t bother me. The reality check was when I couldn’t shop for clothes when and where I liked. It was “fat frock shops” only for me.
Q. How did you lose the weight?
A. I joined Weight Watchers to lose the first 7 stones when I was 22. I had never been on a diet before. I lost seven stones over 17 months,
Q. Was it difficult?
A. At times it was quite overwhelming, especially as I was starting from scratch. So I broke it down into little sub goals. Instead of thinking about the bigger number I just focused on smaller more manageable goals and when I reached them I treated myself with something like a new outfit, a handbag, or a pamper day, that sort of thing. I celebrated my success at each stage.
Q. Why hadn’t you done it before?
A. I believe everyone needs to come to a point when they are truly ready to commit to change. I guess the wake up call was when my mum had her first major heart attack at the age of 46. Reality check!
Q. Had you always been overweight?
A. I come from a family of “well built people”. We are all quite tall. My belief was: that’s the way I was born, that’s the way I am. Mum, bless her, comes from the generation that believes you fill your kids up. She always cooked from scratch but the portions were bigger than they should have been. Even now when I visit mum she is always trying to convince me to try the latest cake she’s purchased from M&S! I managed to maintain my new weight until the death of my father in 1996. I turned to eating without realising it and put on around five stones. His death had been very traumatic. Two weeks before I got married he went into hospital for a routine check up and within days was being rushed into theatre. I visited him in intensive care in my wedding dress. He recovered enough to know I’d got married and even have some of our wedding cake, but he never came out of hospital. He had so much determination and spirit; I believe that is where I get my drive and focus from. Eventually I realised I’d been comfort-eating and focused on losing another five stones. It took two years.
Q. Why do you fundraise for Weston Park?
A. It’s a fantastic charity! I have raised in excess of £20,000 for it. The fundraisers at the hospital are so passionate about what they do and I feel privileged to be part of that. I have lost close friends and family to cancer and the statistic of one in three lives affected by cancer is expected to be 1 in 2 by 2020. It is vital we all do what we can to fight it.
Q. What would you say to people who claim they are fat and happy?
A. Think about the long term impact it will have on your health. Plus being overweight also affects the people around you.
Q. What would you say to people who say they cannot lose weight?
A. If you really want to make a change in your life you can. But you need to be totally committed. You need to be honest with yourself too. Ask yourselves these questions: If you lost the weight how would you look? How would you feel? If you don’t lose the weight, what will your life be like 10 years from now?Take that first step.
Q. Why have you become a life coach?
A. I had always done some exercise, even when I was bigger. But thanks to my personal trainer and my own self discipline to take regular exercise I’m now the fittest I’ve ever been and I feel great.
I set up my coaching business (Debbie@deborahcundy.com) because I want to help other people feel the same way. I am passionate about working with clients who want to make positive changes to their lives. Supporting them to achieve their full potential and to live the life they deserve is truly rewarding.