Hearts of gold: “Losing weight has given me the confidence to say yes to new challenges”
This month, we have an inspirational series of weekly posts featuring Slimming World members whose weight loss meant much more than the number on the scale—it’s helped them to help others, too. First up: volunteer medic Nicola Ruth, who lost 99lbs* and now takes critically ill children on very special vacation trips.
I’d felt as though my size was holding me back for most of my adult life. Although I lost a few pounds while I was at medical school, my weight rose again while I was studying for my PhD. The workload, and traveling long distances between the clinic and home, meant I had little time to look after myself. I got through my busy, stressful days by eating sausage sandwiches and fries, and drinking large creamy coffees.
My mom, who had always told me how proud she was of me as I trained to be a doctor, would encourage me to make healthier choices—I just couldn’t find the energy, or the headspace. As I prepared to go back to work on the hospital wards, I worried that at a size 16 and very unfit, I might not be able to react swiftly to a medical emergency.
Then one day, I heard a couple of parents on the ward where I worked talking about the weight loss success they’d had with Slimming World. It was as though a light had been switched on. If those moms and dads of very ill children, who already had so much to deal with, could find the time to look after themselves, so could I.
I joined Slimming World and, as soon as I saw how much tasty food you could eat on the Food Optimizing eating plan, I was hooked. I replaced the ready-made sauces, packs of cookies and chocolate bars in my kitchen with lean meats, and fresh fruit and veg, and stocked up with everything I needed to make my own home-cooked meals. I even managed to combine working shifts with staying on plan, as by batch cooking and portioning up my Slimming World bolognese or chili, I always had a healthy dinner in the fridge at any time of day.
Three months later, I’d lost almost 50lbs—and found myself saying yes to things I’d never have dared to do before. I agreed to help out with an annual charity event, taking more than 200 children with life-limiting illnesses on a three-day break to a popular theme park. As a junior doctor, I was there to keep an eye on the children’s health, carrying their medications and making sure they stayed safe and well. It was a lot of responsibility, but so rewarding, and I was proud of myself for rising to the challenge.
The following summer, my mom watched, beaming with pride, as I received my PhD at my graduation ceremony—wearing a size-4 dress! I’d reached my target weight and felt secure in the knowledge that I could now dash to a medical emergency when needed. And when, during a meeting with a patient’s mom, she asked what had happened to the “larger doctor”, it took me a couple of minutes before she realized it was me, only 99lbs lighter.
Since then, I’ve taken part in my second charity trip to the theme park. As I raced the kids to the rides, cheering and whooping with them, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. Helping these very ill children to enjoy the vacation of a lifetime meant the world to me and seeing the joy on their faces was nothing short of magical.
*Your weight loss will vary according to your individual circumstances and the amount you have to lose.