A mum-of-two who was so unhappy with the way she looked on her wedding day that she had to be convinced to book a photographer has shed an incredible 6st 5½lbs to become Slimming World’s Miss Slinky 2019.
Hayley Cook, 30, from Didcot near Oxford eventually booked a photographer a few weeks before the wedding to capture pictures of her family and friends – yet didn’t have any photographs taken of her and husband Andy together.
Hayley, who was overjoyed to be given the prestigious Miss Slinky title in Slimming World’s 50th year, said: “Shortly after meeting Andy I fell pregnant. While it all happened very quickly, we were over the moon to be starting a family together. Sadly though, I went on to have a miscarriage. We then had another miscarriage the following year and I was in such a low place that I turned to food for comfort and my weight just went up and up.
“Later that year we got engaged and I turned my attention to planning the wedding. After buying my wedding dress and setting a date, I found out shortly afterwards that I was pregnant again. Although the due date was just a few months before the wedding we decided to go ahead with our plans – we were just so happy to be expecting again.
“In May 2016 we welcomed our beautiful daughter Kaycie into the world, and then we got married in July of the same year. I enjoyed my wedding day, but I hate the few pictures I have. I just felt so uncomfortable with my body. I’d struggled with my weight for years and I just couldn’t face the thought of posing for professional photographs. With a new baby and a lovely new husband I should have felt on top of the world, but my weight was always a big insecurity for me.”
The following year Hayley found that she was expecting again, with Archie arriving in March 2018. She says: “During both pregnancies I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, which meant I had to follow a strict diet and take medication to control it. With Archie it was even more severe, and I had to inject insulin daily. After he was born I was told that there’s a risk that women who have gestational diabetes will go on to develop Type 2 diabetes, although the chances were greatly reduced by eating healthily and exercising more.
“It was a bit of a wake-up call for me and at that moment I knew I had to start looking after myself properly. My weight was threatening my health and beginning to impact on my day-to-day life and that wasn’t the type of mum I wanted to be. It was getting to the stage where I didn’t want to go swimming because I felt so self-conscious in a swimsuit. We’d tried so hard to have a family and I wanted to make the most of every moment without worrying about my weight.
“I’d tried Slimming World before so I knew it worked, although this time my mindset was totally different and I was determined to make healthier changes not just for myself, but for my whole family. I was still surprised by how much I could actually eat though! As I was breastfeeding Archie at the time, my Consultant talked me through the best way to Food Optimise to make sure I got the extra nutrients and calcium I needed*.
“In the past I’ve tried every diet under the sun – from soups and shakes to juices and even surviving on just eggs and grapefruit! The brilliant thing about Slimming World was that the eating plan focused on healthy, filling, everyday foods that the whole family can enjoy – like our version of a healthy pizza – so I never feel like I’m missing out and the support you get at group is second-to-none.”
Losing weight has also made Hayley think about how active she is and has unearthed a new passion for exercise. She says: “Before losing weight I used to think that I didn’t have time for exercise, but the truth was I just wasn’t very good at making myself a priority. These days I’m more active than I have ever been in my adult life. Last September I took part in Sweatember – which encouraged me to try loads of different activities from badminton and running to cycling and swimming. I raised lots of money for Cancer Research UK but aside from that I realised that being active made me feel good, and in turn that made me a better version of myself.