Clare Conway, mother of four, struggled for years with her weight and tried numerous different weight loss plans. Clare, now 42 recalls seeing photographs of herself after a Christmas work party.  “I felt disgusted at what I saw in the photos in the photos,” admits Clare. “I was having fun and laughing on the outside, but on the inside I was miserable; I knew something had to change.” In the new year a work colleague told Clare that she had joined a local Slimming World group.  “I had tried Slimming World before,” explains Clare.  “But that time I wasn’t ready to give it one hundred percent.  I heard that this group was so friendly I decided to join the very next week, but I wasn’t content to wait… I went out and got my groceries and started there and then.”

On January 13th, 2016, Clare joined Sandra’s Slimming World group in St. Mark’s GAA club in Springfield with her friend.  “I was apprehensive,” Clare remembers.  “Would I be the biggest in the room?  Would I be able to stick to the plan this time?” When Clare entered the room she instantly felt like she was not alone.  She felt that everyone in that group had the same goal in mind… to lose weight. “I sat down for the new member talk,” remembers Clare.  “And my consultant Sandra made me feel so welcome and reassured. She made me feel like nothing was impossible.”

Clare weighed 19 stone and 2 and a half pound on that first day.  Clare remembers crying having seen those figures on the scales.  “My biggest fear,” explains Clare. “Was not being around for my children and two grandchildren.  I was a heart attack waiting to happen and was taking tablets for high blood pressure.  I felt exhausted and emotionally drained all of the time.” Clare explains that her youngest son is on the autistic spectrum.  “He can sometimes be a danger to himself, and I needed to be able to react quickly should he begin to hurt himself or others, but at 19 stone it was difficult.”  Clare was determined to make this work for her family and for herself.

Clare remembers how on that first week how much food was available to her through food optimising with Slimming World.  “Even the kids were enjoying all of the freshly cooked meals I was making. Who would’ve thought you could eat chips, eggs & beans and still lose weight,” Clare smiles. Clare lost 5 pounds that first week with Slimming World.  She remembers how motivated she felt when she stepped off the scales.  “Now I knew I could do this,” says Clare.  “I knew this was for me.” Clare talks about how, as the weight continued to fall off, she regained her confidence.  “I began to buy clothes again!  Chores about the house became easier to manage.  I started to feel like myself again.”

Clare never missed group and as time went on, she began to help out on the group’s social team.  “The group is so supportive,” says Clare.  “They cheered me along on my good weeks and picked me up on my bad weeks.” Clare reached her target weight by December 2017 having lost a fantastic 8 stone and 7 pounds.  During that period, Clare won the group’s Woman of the Year, Miss Slinky and Greatest Loser each two years consecutively.  Her dress size also dropped from a size 26 to a size 10. Clare advises anyone who’s thinking of joining Slimming World to just do it.  “And stay to group,” Clare recommends.  “I could not have done it without the support of my consultant and my group.” “I started my journey for my family,” recalls Clare.  “But I gradually realised that I wanted this for myself – and that it’s okay to want to be happy for yourself.  We’re all entitled to be happy!”

Clare lost her weight with Sandra who runs groups on Wednesday mornings 9.30am in St Mark’s GAA Club Springfield and Friday mornings 9.30 & 11.30am in The Maldron Hotel Tallaght. You can contact Sandra on 0851484669.