Bursting with health and happiness, it’s hard to believe that these three stunning women have lost an astonishing 15st 11lb between them.
Over the next few months, the trio will variously run the London Marathon, climb Mount Snowdon or complete the MoonWalk.
They’re astonishing feats for women who were once so obese they used to get out of breath climbing hills or even just vacuuming the house.
So what’s the secret to their success? Each credits their incredible weight loss to becoming members of Slimming World.
You can join them in easy, effective weight loss, too, using the exclusive recipes with Weekend magazine.
As the company celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, we take a look at the UK’s favourite slimming club . . .
Sarah Jones (in red), Kirstie Goodwin (in green) and Rebecca Rushbrook (in blue) lost a combined 15 stone 11lbs between them
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
In 1969, 21-year-old Margaret Miles-Bramwell OBE launched Slimming World in a church hall in Alfreton, Derbyshire.
She had struggled with her own weight since childhood and was looking for a better way to lose weight, as all the diet clubs she found were too restrictive or judgmental.
She sat down in her kitchen and came up with the basic plan for a new kind of slimming club based on psychology.
Driven by her experience of battling with weight, and having analysed her feelings about how she wanted to be treated — as an adult, not a naughty schoolgirl — Margaret was convinced that she could create her own structured programme to help others.
She knew that feeling hungry was what made slimmers go off-track. The key to success was liberating slimmers from restriction and the need to weigh, count and measure everything they ate.
Within the first year, 40 groups were up and running and people were easily losing weight.
Since then, the club has helped millions of slimmers, and 900,000 currently attend a Slimming World group each week. Most members attend a weekly class, which includes a weigh-in. Each session costs £4.95, plus you pay an initial £10 joining fee. Others join the online service, which costs from £60 for 12 weeks.
NO MORE HUNGER PANGS
With Slimming World, no food is banned — you might not be able to eat as much as you’d like, but you can still have a little bit of what you love, such as cake, crisps or biscuits.
The theory is that being able to indulge occasionally keeps people on track. But the main secret behind the club is you can eat plenty of different foods with no limits, many of which may surprise you.
Not only can you fill up on lean meat, eggs, fish, fruit and vegetables, but you can also indulge in potatoes, pasta and rice (just as long as they’re not drenched in lots of butter or creamy sauces).
This philosophy means no one ever has to face the dieter’s nemesis: hunger pangs.
It also teaches slimmers to make healthier choices and opt for filling but lower-calorie foods, which both aids weight loss and helps you to keep the pounds off.
Over the next few months, the trio will variously run the London Marathon, climb Mount Snowdon or complete the MoonWalk
KNOW YOUR ‘SYNS’ . . .
As well as these ‘free’ foods, as they’re called, slimmers are also allowed to eat a limited amount of foods which provide essential nutrients such as calcium, fibre and minerals, to ensure a balanced diet each day.
These include milk, cheese, wholemeal bread, some cereals, nuts and seeds. Any food not in these groups is classed as a ‘syn’. Don’t worry, it’s nothing to do with religion — it simply means higher-calorie fare, which is usually processed, high in sugar or fat, or alcohol.
When they join, each slimmer is given a booklet detailing which items are in each category and told how many syns they can eat a day, with each of these foods being given a value.
Many are surprised to learn it’s perfectly possible to have a pack of crisps every day or a glass of wine each night and still lose weight.
THE SECRET TO SUCCESS
But it’s not just about food. There are other reasons for Slimming World’s success. First is the lack of humiliation at the weekly weigh-in.
Only the slimmer, the person who weighs them and the group consultant know what the scales say, and no one is ever told off for not losing a pound or two.
Nor are they harangued if they haven’t done much exercise, although slimmers are encouraged to move about more to aid weight loss.
The group consultant is always on hand to provide support and encouragement, as well as bring slimmers up to date on the latest ‘free’ recipes and convenience foods.
Specialist ‘free’ food, recipe books and the organisation’s magazine, full of inspirational weight-loss stories, are also sold at the meetings. Members swap recipes and advice with each other, too.
Losing five stone helped save my life
Sarah Jones before photos Slimming World
Sarah Jones, 51, lives in Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire, with her husband Andrew and their daughter Courtney, 22, and son Alex, 19. She lost 5st 4lb and is now a Slimming World consultant.
Last April, I was called for a routine mammogram. Had I still been five stone heavier, I probably wouldn’t have gone — I’d have been too self-conscious.
I learned I had breast cancer, and a few weeks later I had surgery, then radiotherapy. In November I got sepsis and spent five days in hospital. But I stayed at my target weight. It was the one thing I had control over. I wanted to be as healthy as I could be for my kids.
The weight crept on after pregnancy, and on holiday in Spain in 2013, I walked up a hill and felt I was going to die. Later I saw photos of myself looking like a barrel at a party and chose to go to Slimming World. My mum had lost five stone with it.
I clocked in at 16st 3lb at the first weigh-in and cried all the way home. But I was amazed at the amount I could still eat. I kept my Friday Indian takeaway and wine habit, but had a syn-free curry.
It took 13 months to lose five stone and I’ve kept it off. Soon I’ll climb Snowdon and do the MoonWalk. I couldn’t have done it without Slimming World — after all, it saved my life.
Sarah Jones, 51, from Warwickshire lost 5 stone 4lbs and is now a slimming world consultant
I never went out: Now I do marathons
Kirstie Goodwin before Slimming World
Kirstie Goodwin, 40, lives in Birmingham with husband Dean, 42, and their sons Ryan, 23, Taylor, 18, and Lawson, 15. She lost 8st 7lb and is now a Slimming World consultant.
Comfort eating junk food saw me gain five stone in 2012 when my stepdad was injured in a crash and we were later made homeless.
The five of us ended up living with my mother-in-law in her one-bedroom bungalow. I’d eat a Galaxy bar each day.
My weight made me even more unhappy. I never went out — I feared everyone was staring. I was so unfit I couldn’t vacuum without sitting down. I dreamt of running the London Marathon, yet I’d drive the boys to the park then sit in the car.
I felt I was missing out on life and was an embarrassment to my family. Then I realised I was nearly 39, the age my dad was when he nearly died of a heart attack. What if I had one too and it was fatal? I couldn’t leave my family. I Googled my nearest diet club.
I persuaded my mum and sister to come with me to Slimming World at first, but I needn’t have worried as the group made me feel so welcome. I lost 4.5lb in a week. It took three years to get to my target of 9st 11lb — I’d been 18st 4lb. Then I started exercising.
In April my dream is coming true — I’m running the London Marathon with Slimming World in aid of Cancer Research UK. I’m going to cry my eyes out when I cross that line.
Kirstie Goodwin, 40, from Birmingham lost 8st 7lb and is now a Slimming World consultant
I’m not afraid of clothes shopping now
Rebecca Rushbrook before Slimming World
Rebecca Rushbrook, 36, is a financial ombudsman team manager who lives in Gravesend, Kent, with husband Steven, 39. She lost 2st.
As a teenager, I was a size 10 — I liked exercise and was a duty manager at a leisure centre. But at 21 I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and had to take a year off.
When I went back, my outlook was different, so I quit and took the first job I got, in a call centre. Sat by a vending machine all day, I put on weight. Even the prospect of my wedding didn’t help — I joined Slimming World but went into it half-hearted and was a size 14 bride.
For my next job I left home at 5am and got back at 6.30pm. I was too tired to cook so had takeaways, and I’d drink more than three litres of Coke a day.
Each time I went up a dress size, I’d make excuses. But after a shopping trip in 2017, when I looked like an elephant in even size 16 clothes and came home in tears, I returned to Slimming World.
After a couple of weeks, I felt I’d known the other members for a lifetime, and the class is the highlight of my Monday.
My husband and I love Slimming World food and trying new recipes. We have syn-free roasts and burgers.
Keeping the weight off is hard, so you need a motivation. I’m doing the MoonWalk to raise money for cancer research, then we’re going to Cyprus and I want to feel comfortable on the beach.
Rebecca Rushbrook, 36, a financial ombudsman team manager from Gravesend in Kent, lost 2 stone