While most people would be offended to be called a ‘loser’ one Eaton Socon woman is over the moon.

Sharon Houchen.Sharon Houchen.

Sharon Houchen lost 11 stone after attending the Eaton Socon Slimming World group and has been crowned greatest loser 2018.

“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a loser when it feels this good,” said Sharon.

“I feel like a new woman since losing the weight, in fact, I look so different that people who I haven’t seen for a while often can’t believe I’m the same person. For me though it’s the change on the inside that’s been the greatest – I’m happier, healthier and much more confident now.”

Sharon joined the group, which is run by Slimming World consultant Julie Farrer, in June 2016, and admits she was self conscious about her weight.

“Before I lost the weight I hated having my photo taken and whenever I saw pictures of myself I knew that my smile wasn’t real. My weight impacted on so many aspects of my life, from struggling to find clothes that I like to fit to not being able to do simple everyday tasks without feeling tired and out of breath.”

Sharon’s weight was also putting a huge strain on her health. People who are severely overweight, with a BMI* above 30, are more likely to suffer from health problems such as coronary heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and cancer. Obesity is also linked to a reduction in life expectancy of between seven and nine years.

After hearing about the group, which is held at The Eatons Community Centre. Sharon plucked up the courage and made the difficult step of going along.

“Walking through those doors was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” she explained.

“I was embarrassed about my size and scared that I might be the biggest person there. I needn’t have worried though, everyone there was so friendly especially my consultant Julie and I was so relieved when I found out that my weight was confidential between me and her – I’d had visions of having to tell everyone how much I weighed.

“Since then I’ve made so many friends at the group and I honestly don’t think I could have done it without their support each week. They helped me with recipes and tips and if I was ever struggling they were always there to remind me why I’d wanted to lose weight in the first place and how far I’d come since first stepping through the doors.”

Sharon followed the club’s Food Optimising eating plan and swapped sausage rolls, crisps and chocolate for fruit, stir frys and curries.

“People think slimming means going hungry, eating nothing, but salad or obsessively counting every calorie you eat, but it’s not like that at all at Slimming World. I love food and it’s never once felt like I was on ‘a diet’ – in fact, people are always surprised at how much food I have on my plate and can’t believe I’m losing weight eating so much delicious food and without ever feeling hungry.

“I still enjoy all my favourite meals like a curry, stir frys and bacon, eggs and beans but I’ve learned how to make small changes like using lean meat or cooking with low calorie spray instead of oil or butter. It fits in really well with the rest of my family and we can all eat the same meals. I know that I haven’t ‘gone on a diet’, this is a change that I’ve made for life and have the tools I need to keep up forever. My smile is definitely real now!”

Sharon has lost a total of 11st 1 1/2lbs and gone from a size 26/28 to size 14 She’s also more active and regularly walks and visits her local gym.

Julie, who runs the Eaton Socon Slimming World group, says: “The changes we’ve seen in Sharon are incredible. I hope her success will inspire other people in St Neots who’d like to lose weight by forming new lifestyle habits and become happier and healthier to take action. There’s a warm welcome waiting at Slimming World and, just think, if you start today you could feel like a completely new person just like Sharon.”

The Eaton Socon group meets on Monday at 9.30am, 5.30pm or 7.30pm at The Eatons Community Centre. To join call Julie on 01480 210115 or go along.