With Christmas, and the inevitable eating to excess, come thoughts of making the New Year a time to lose weight and feel healthier.
One woman who did just that two years ago and hasn’t looked back is Hemel Hempstead resident Annette Howard.
Annette, aged 46, signed up for the Hospice of St Francis Biggest Loser challenge two years ago and it has completely changed her life.
The crunch came for Annette, a marine data subject matter expert for BP in Hemel, when she struggled to get into the size 20 dress she was planning to wear to the office Christmas party.
She said: “I’d had my hair done in a glamorous style but in reality I just felt fat and uncomfortable in my outfit. I tried to put on a happy face but I didn’t enjoy the party and wished I’d stayed at home.”
Christmas came and Annette tucked into all the usual Christmas treats. Her weight soared to 16st 11lb andshe felt overweight and depressed.
As the New Year approached, a poster for the Hospice’s Biggest Loser competition caught Annette’s eye.
She said: “My dad had had a brief stay at the hospice a while back in 2005. It felt right to be giving something back to the staff by doing the Biggest Loser challenge so, with nothing to lose, I entered.”
Annette took part in the 12-week challenge which included free membership at Sportspace, Hemel Hempstead, personal training sessions and group exercise classes, a personalised nutrition plan and weekly motivational weigh-ins.
Annette said: “The challenge seemed daunting but it was life changing. Unlike other diet plans I’d followed before, the support I received from the hospice and the Sportspace team, and the encouragement from fellow participants, really helped me through.”
Annette lost 2st 6lb and 14 per cent of her body weight in 12 weeks, coming third in the challenge and raising over £1,000 for the hospice.
But the life-changing experience didn’t stop there.
Annette said: “Unlike other diets I’ve done where I’ve lost weight only to go and put it all back on again a few weeks later, after the Biggest Loser I’ve kept it off and kept on going.
“My attitude to health and fitness has completely changed. I now do two classes a week and attend a running club and my weekends are spent doing a Parkrun or a race. I’ve even done two half marathons.
“Running has given me a whole new interest and outlook. I’ve met loads of fabulous new people and I love the sense of achievement.”
Annette now weighs 12st 4lb and is a neat size 12.
She said:“It was win win doing the Biggest Loser – a win for me, and a win for the hospice. I’d urge anyone in a similar situation to give it a try.”
The hospice is looking for candidates for its 2016 Biggest Loser challenge which will start in February.
Everyone who enters needs to raise £500 to fund care at the Hospice of St Francis.
Find out more at www.stfrancis.org.uk/biggestloser or call Nicky on 01442 869555.