HEALTHY LIVING: Losing weight is a fresh start for people and a change for life

Ruth Holmes and Jill Holmes outside the Victoria Methodist Church in Sheffield. Jill was named 'woman of the year' at Ruth's slimming group.
Ruth Holmes and Jill Holmes outside the Victoria Methodist Church in Sheffield. Jill was named 'woman of the year' at Ruth's slimming group.
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EVERY New Year, people around the world make resolutions promising themselves that they will do anything from learn a new skill to quit smoking.

But one of the top resolutions has to be pledging to lose weight at the beginning of a fresh 12 months.

That’s what Ruth Holmes, from Heeley, Sheffield, did at the beginning of 2012 when she found herself approaching her 40th birthday weighing just over 16 stones, and having slipped into bad eating habits which were affecting her health.

Ruth was also mindful of the death of her father, who suffered a massive heart attack aged 41, and didn’t want to meet the same fate.

So the mum-of-three joined a local slimming group and within months shed an impressive six stone – while learning that she didn’t have to cut out her favourite foods in order to gain a healthier lifestyle.

Now Ruth is set to share the secrets of her success by leading her very own slimming group from this Thursday at the Victoria Methodist Church on Stafford Road, Norfolk Park, and said she’s feeling ‘excited and a little bit nervous’.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” said Ruth, a social care worker.

“It’s a fresh start for people and a change for life. It can be more than a New Year’s resolution.” Ruth said she had struggled with her weight for many years before deciding to slim down last year.

“I had got into bad habits, eating unhealthy foods. My diet was not balanced, there was a lot of chocolate and junk food rather than proper, healthy foods. Really I wasn’t looking at the variety of my diet, and how different it could be.

“I hit my 40th birthday, and my died at 41 of a massive heart attack – that was the turning point. It made me think about my weight and how it impacted on myself and my family, restricting what I could do.

“I didn’t want to leave my children without a mother. I would avoid looking at myself in the mirror, I was beginning to feel miserable and felt I was at my lowest ebb.

“All my life I had felt isolated, being overweight at school, the one nobody picked to be on their sports team, ridiculed and bullied for being overweight.”

Ruth signed up for the Slimming World group after spotting posters in her neighbourhood, and said she learned that, as she is 5ft 7ins in height, she should weigh around eight stones.

“The group were very welcoming and supportive, and taught me about things that I could eat rather than things I couldn’t,” she added. “There was nothing that I couldn’t eat, which I thought was great. There were probably around 30 people there every week.”

Slimming World uses a system called ‘syns’, assigning different values to foods considered unhealthy, which allows members to enjoy treats in moderation.

“I was never hungry. With diets, usually you always think about what you can’t have, but sometimes this makes you think you want them more.

“I noticed the weight falling off straight away. I lost around three-and-a-half pounds in the first week. The amount I lost varied, but it was always a couple of pounds each week.”

Ruth lost six stones and four pounds in total, and said she found the results ‘amazing’.

“I’ve not had to use asthma inhalers, my joints don’t ache anymore, and when I get up in the morning I can run upstairs. I joined a zumba class too which helped me get more exercise.”

She decided to lead her own group as she reached her target weight.

“I wanted to take on a group myself as I had been supported so much – I wanted to give that back to other people in the same situation, understanding that losing weight is a big, life-changing thing. I wanted to give others the confidence that they can do it.

“New Year is sometimes the right time for people to decide to lose weight. Sometimes people make the decision if they’ve got a big event like a wedding coming up, too.

“My advice to anyone wanting to get slimmer would be to believe in yourself that you can do it. Slimming World supports you not just with advice about food, but also general encouragement.”

Ruth is married to Martin, 44, a support worker, and has a daughter Emmie, 10, son Thomas, 14, as well as a grown-up daughter, Jessica. She said her family have also benefited from her new, healthier lifestyle.

“Initially, I worried about how I would manage making different meals each night. However, I soon discovered everything was devoured by my family. My children are also making more sensible choices independently and will choose fruit rather than raiding a previously-full biscuit barrel when coming home from school.”

Ruth’s group starts on Thursday, January 3, at the Victoria Methodist Church on Stafford Road, Norfolk Park, at 7pm. Call 07883 976940.