Linda Stearn, 62, has maintained her inspirational seven stone weight loss for 12 years. As a result, she has been named Slimming World’s Diamond Member of the Year 2021 and spoke about her journey which saw her down-size from a size 24 to a size 12.
Linda started gaining weight in her teens when working in a newsagents, where she would spend her days snacking on sweets and chocolates.
Later in life, with each of her three pregnancies, she gained weight.
Her final straw came after the sad death of her mother.
This event, coupled with a period of uncertainty at work, meant Linda’s mental health took a turn for the worse.
She became more and more aware that her weight was a factor, and decided to take the step to join her local Slimming World group.
Linda, who lives in Cambridge, explained: “After my mother died, I went through a 12-month period of difficulty at work – two life changing events which I had no control over. This led to a difficult period filled with anxiety, panic attacks and depression.
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“My weight just seemed to contribute to this even further.
“Having been to a Slimming World group in the past, I knew that the support I would get from my Consultant and fellow members would help me deal with my weight once and for all – it was one thing I could finally take control of.
“As soon as I walked through the door, I knew that I’d done the right thing,” she remarked.
“I was shocked when I saw the number on the scales, but my Consultant reassured me that I could lose the weight for good.
“And with the support of her and my group to help me be committed and accountable, I knew I absolutely could.”
Linda has now been named Slimming World’s Diamond Member of the Year 2021, a title which celebrates members who have successfully maintained their target weight.
Slimming World’s Food Optimising eating plan empowers members to make healthier food choices, satisfy their appetite and lose weight.
Research shows following a diet that is based on satiety and energy density, filling up on foods like fruit and vegetables, beans and pulses, pasta, potatoes, rice, fish, poultry, lean meat and eggs while still enjoying occasional treats like chocolate or wine, helps enable people to develop lasting, lifelong eating habits.
Linda reflected on what life was like when she weighed more than 17 stone and said: “I was always the comedian, making jokes about myself before anyone else did.
“Deep down I was not in a good place. I even faked an illness once to get out of going to a New Year’s Eve party, because I was so deeply unhappy with the way I looked.”
Linda also explained her weight got in the way of doing her job properly: “I have my own cleaning company and it became increasingly difficult to do my job before I lost weight.
“I found it hard having to go up and down stairs, and even simple tasks like bending and being able to get up and down were difficult for me.
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Linda now (left) and before (right) the weight loss
“I had problems with my knees and was even turned down for a knee operation because of my weight – I was told my size made me too much of an anaesthetic risk.”
Linda said she was overwhelmed by the support she received when she decided to join her local Slimming World group: “I love my Tuesday nights!
“My Consultant Karen and the whole group just ooze love, encouragement, inspiration and support.
“Even now having been at my target weight for 12 years, I still come away from the group with new ideas and a feeling of being part of a very special family.”
And a new boost of energy prompted Linda to become more active: “Since losing weight I’ve joined a gym and I’m no longer worried about how other people see me.
“I started walking and have built up to around eight miles at a time now.
Linda has been named Slimming World’s Diamond Member 2021
“I also completed the Couch to 5k and discovered my love for running, something I never thought I would try – let alone love,” she added.
As well as helping her to become more active, Linda was thrilled to still be able to eat all her favourite foods: “I love the easiness of the plan and the fact you can eat such a variety of foods without having to weigh and measure everything.
“I know how to make healthy choices; I have my sweet treats without feeling guilty and I eat out and enjoy special occasions – Slimming World works around my life so well.”
As for what Linda’s secret is to maintaining her weight loss is, she revealed: “My only answer to that question is to join a group. It really is the best place to form and stick to new habits. It’s been key to my success. If I ever had moments of self-doubt, I found discussing this with Karen and the other group members really helped to keep me on track.
“Slimming World has helped me to completely change my lifestyle for the better – and I’m so much more confident and happier in every aspect of my life, I now buy clothes because I like them, not just because they fit and have since undergone surgery without me having to worry about my weight at all.
“By far the best thing to come out of my weight loss though, is my ability to run around and play on the park with my grandchildren now – it’s such a great feeling. I really do enjoy life to the full,” she said.
Before joining Slimming World
Breakfast: Sugary cereal or toast with lots of butter and marmalade
Lunch: Sandwiches with bag of crisps
Dinner: Meat pie, chips and gravy, no vegetables
Snacks: Biscuits by the handful, chocolate, sweets, crisps
Since joining Slimming World
Breakfast: Poached egg on wholemeal toast, with fruit and fat-free yoghurt
Lunch: Omelette filled with onions, mushrooms, peppers and ham
Dinner: Salmon, roast vegetables and noodles
Snacks: Lots of fruit like apples, melon, nectarine, pears and oranges
Linda used to find it hard using the stairs, now she runs
About Slimming World
Slimming World was founded by Margaret Miles-Bramwell OBE in Derbyshire in 1969 and has become the UK and Ireland’s leading weight loss organisation with more people choosing to attend a Slimming World group each week than any other weight loss programme.
They support hundreds of thousands of people, both in our groups and online, to lose weight and to adopt new habits to stay slim for life.
Over the years their founding principles haven’t changed:
Their unique programme is based on a powerfully motivating support system called IMAGE (Individual Motivation and Group Experience) Therapy. Underpinned by a deep understanding of the psychology of overweight people, and incorporating the most effective sustainable behaviour change techniques, IMAGE Therapy is designed to inspire and motivate slimmers to make positive changes and to develop new, healthier habits around food and activity.
Food Optimising is their healthy eating plan, based on the liberating concept of Free Food. They encourage their members to fill up on those foods that are naturally lower in energy density (calories per gram) and also highly satisfying while limiting foods that are highest in fat and sugar and are less satisfying, so they lose weight without ever feeling hungry or deprived and without having to weigh, measure or count everything they eat.
Our activity programme, Body Magic, encourages members to become more active, more often in ways that they enjoy, until regular physical activity becomes an intrinsic part of daily routine.
Above all, at the heart of everything they do, lies their passion for treating every member with genuine care, empathy and respect.
They’re proud to work with the NHS, Public Health England, The Royal College of Midwives and others to help shape the future of weight management in the UK.