Harriet Peacock has lost 20 stone with the help of Slimming World. The 46-year-old, who at her heaviest weighed 33st 3lbs, admitted to “eating herself to death” and because of her size, she was a target of cruel jibes. But it was the much-needed intervention from her sister that helped her change. Having lost an incredible amount of weight, Harriet became a Consultant for the slimming club, in a bid to help others transform their lives. This year, she has been named Slimming World’s Greatest Loser.
Harriet was so overweight she used to struggle to put her own socks on and walk 20 yards.
Speaking about her body, Harriet said: “I had been overweight for my whole life, but things really ramped up when I made the switch from teaching in a school to becoming an online tutor. I became very withdrawn and only wanted to associate with people I knew and trusted.
“I poured my heart and soul into my students which often left me exhausted and reaching for the nearest takeaway when I finished work. I snored loudly and slept terribly which only added to my tiredness.
“Being very overweight had a huge impact on my mental health. The fat-shaming I would endure was soul destroying.
“One time a group of men pushed me over and to add to the humiliation, I couldn’t get back up.
“Another time a milkshake was thrown at me in the street. These incidents just pushed me further towards my comfort – food.”
Harriet admitted she couldn’t see a way out and now thanks her sister for intervening.
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She explained: “My sister rang my local consultant to check she would be able to weigh me as that was something I was really worried about.
“In the past, my doctor had weighed me by putting out two sets of scales and asking me to put one foot on each. I knew I couldn’t face that again.
“The consultant reassured her that I would be fine, the scales would weigh me, and that there would be nothing but a warm welcome when I joined.
“I was on the brink of a panic attack that first night, I did it though, and everyone was so lovely once I arrived.
“My mum would drive me to the venue because I couldn’t walk the short distance to group, and then she would wait in the car until I was finished. I’ve been so lucky to have so much support.”
Harriet said the slimming group and consultant were “incredible”.
“After experiencing such cruelty from strangers in the past I was worried about meeting new people – yet my faith was almost instantly restored,” she said. “I no longer felt alone, I was part of a community of people who understood how it felt to be bigger.
“The group was the first place outside of close family and friends where I felt accepted and not judged or made to feel like a second-class citizen.
“The accountability of being surrounded by people who cared about my success really galvanised my resolve and helped me stick to the plan.”
Harriet followed the Slimming World’s Food Optimising eating plan, which enables members to enjoy a wide variety of healthy everyday foods – like fresh fruit and veg, lean meat and poultry, fat free dairy, eggs, pasta, rice and grains freely, so slimmers can lose weight without being hungry and adjust the plan to their tastes and lifestyle.
She added: “I’ve tried every diet imaginable. If you’ve heard of it, I’ve tried it. They never worked for me because I always felt restricted.
“I love food and have a big appetite, so one of the most appealing things about Slimming World is that I can eat to my own appetite rather than a set portion size. I always feel full.
“My Slimming World group taught me that losing weight doesn’t have to be bland either – I still enjoy curries, stews and pasta dishes.”
In fact, Harriet lost an amazing 17lbs in her first week and the difference since then, says Harriet, has been life-changing: “I’m a carer for my mum and she’s lost weight just from eating the same meals as me, which is really helpful for her osteoporosis.
“The benefits of my weight loss are so far-reaching – I don’t think I’ll ever be able to count them all. I can have a bath, put on my own shoes and never have to worry about whether a chair will hold my weight – it’s removed a whole layer of worry from my life.”
Before Slimming World, Harriet said she was “eating herself to death” and would “often binge eat until I was sick”.
“I’d regularly pretend that I had friends over if I ordered a takeaway so that the delivery driver didn’t think I was eating it all to myself,” she admitted. “Of course, I was, and they probably knew that too. I dread to think where I would be had I never joined Slimming World.”
Alongside a healthier diet, Harriet also exercised thanks to Slimming World’s Body Magic programme, which helps members to increase their activity levels and build active habits alongside Food Optimising.
She said: “I genuinely couldn’t walk more than a few yards before I lost weight. I started off steadily, just doing a few steps more than usual. Now a few years later I’m doing Couch to 5K and planning to take part in a Race for Life in July.
“I even go to a circuits class on a Saturday morning. It’s a world away from the life I used to have.
“I have lots of things on my bucket list now – I want to ride a rollercoaster, do a bungee jump, ride a horse, go to the opera… there’s one thing right at the top though, and that’s to become a Slimming World Consultant myself. This feeling that I have now is incredible and I want to share it with as many people as I can.
“I want to be the encouragement that my friends, group and Consultants were for me. My smile these days is real, and it’s not going anywhere.”
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