Gail Cleminson, 56, from Greetland, has lived a rollercoaster life of losing and gaining weight, but has thanked the support received at a Slimming World group at Elland Cricket Club.
It started for Ms Cleminson when she was 10 years old, but was the height of a fully-grown man at 5ft 8in.
She said: “Nicknames stay in your head for a long time, mine was Nellie the Elephant, which was at primary school.
“It wasn’t necessarily due to being overweight but more that by 10 years old I was 5ft 8 and towered over all the class and even some teachers.”
In a bid to shed this name she would take Ryvitas for lunch instead of bread for sandwiches.
“It didn’t work,” she said.
“I tried meals replacements in my teens and as predicted I lost some weight, would be starving and put it all back on again.
“When I met my husband Martin in 6th Form I naturally lost weight.
“I’d lost my appetite and we were very active playing squash, fell walking, skiing and cycling.
Ms Cleminson’s weight stablised for a few years working as a professional photographer in the advertising industry.
She said: “Being surrounded by slim models made you aware of your shape, that kept me slim.
“After redundancy and moving jobs my weight crept up, then sadly we lost my mum to cancer. She was 61. With grief, and my dad losing the love of his life, there was no room for slimming in my heart.”
For the next few years, the former model photographer joined Slimming World. After showing incredible progress, she was offered a job as a trainer.
However, Ms Cleminson gained so much weight again she had to give it up.
Eventually she joined Slimming World online.
“I had lost about four stone when my dad developed Vascular Dementia. It broke my heart to see him deteriorate, but he was so full of compliments when he could see I was losing weight and promised me a new wardrobe of clothes when I reached my target.
Sadly her dad died and she gained three stone.
“As a very active person loving my cycling and never letting that put me off any of the epic trips, I was in denial of my size as I was fit. But I could see I was getting seriously overweight; hating the fact that I couldn’t buy normal size clothes and always avoiding the camera,” said Ms Cleminson.
“They say you have to hit rock-bottom before you take action. Well, Martin and I were on another cycle camping trip, island hopping down the Dalmatian coast in Croatia. While feeling and looking like a lump on my bike I made the decision there and then I knew I needed the support of a group to help me on my way to losing that weight.
“I told Martin at the end of our ride and he agreed it was the best decision and he’d support me all the way.
“The following week I joined Slimming World. Food optimising is perfect for me, having always been a healthy eater despite putting on weight there weren’t too many changes for me to make.
“I’ve being going to group for three years this month.
“I had lost over five stone, but having just got back from a three-week cycling holiday in Europe and a birthday inevitably resulted in a gain.
But I’m straight back on plan now knowing that with the support of my lovely consultant Michelle and my great class members I’ll be getting to target before you know it.
There are little things along the way that to an average slim person will sound silly, but to me they all add to the success of my journey.
One: I can cross my arms properly over my chest. Two: I can comfortably cross my legs. Three: I can wrap a bath towel round me and tuck it in over the top without any gaping.
And of course there are the four dress sizes less and going faster on my bike and comfortably running.
And to top it all being voted Woman of the Year 2020 in my group.”
Michelle Bancroft, Slimming World Consultant & Team Developer in Elland, said: “Gail’s dedication to her weight loss is just brilliant and this has shown is her success. She always shares her own experiences and tips with the other members in group and as such is an inspiration to all. I’m proud that she is our Woman of the Year 2020
Michelle’s group run Tuesday night and Thursday morning at Elland Cricket Club. Call 07779 082842 to book your place.