Rosalyn McLaren regularly has people she knows ignore her in the street - but they’re not being rude.
They simply don’t recognise her after the Burnfoot hairdresser lost an amazing eight stone at Slimming World.
The 34-years-old was motivated to lose weight after her parents raised their concerns and she told the ‘Journal’ how she hasn’t looked back.
“I decided to lose weight after my parents sat me down, telling me how concerned they were about my weight. I was getting bigger and they were getting worried. That was Christmas, 2016. I joined Slimming World in January 2017 because I knew it worked from doing it years before and I had an idea of the plan. I reached my target of losing eight stone by August, 2018.
“Slimming World is always welcoming and passes no judgement when you walk though the doors. I’m a member in the Northside Derry Slimming World group with consultant Shelly McDowell, who really motivates you to reach your goals.”
Rosalyn has found that not only has her weight and dress size been transformed, it has led to a real change in her confidence and fitness levels. She was also able to return to her beloved horse-riding.
Rosalyn explained: “The main difference is that I’m happier within myself and I’m fitter. I’ve done things that I wouldn’t have be able to do when I was bigger. I’ve climbed Errigal for a friend’s hen party last year, I wouldn’t even have thought about doing this before. I’ve gone paragliding on holidays. I’m back horse riding, I had to give that up due to my size.”
Losing eight stone in two years didn’t come easy, but Rosalyn was dedicated to her preparation in losing weight. She’s found that instead of reaching for the most convenient food, she’s spending more time in the kitchen. She doesn’t deprive herself of food she wants to eat.
“My diet is a lot healthier now. I would’ve been eating ready meals, pizza, chips, takeaways, going to deli counters as well as eating crisps, sweets, chocolate. Anything that was handy.
“Now, I’m making home cooked meals, but I still enjoy curries, pizzas, chillis, chips, mexicans etc., but making them the healthy way. And I enjoy cooking. I never stopped myself from having something, she maintained.
“I’ll still have chocolate or crisps but it’ll be something that’s within my allowance for that day. When you deprive yourself of something you like, you get bored which leads to giving up and going back to old habits.”
For many people who want to lose weight, it can be difficult to keep on track on nights out, or during big events. But, Rosalyn worked out a plan that worked for her.
“On nights out, parties, weddings etc. I would be on track right up until I go out. If going for a meal, I’d check a menu before I go to a restaurant and choose what I’ll have before I go. I’d also have something light to eat before I go out so I don’t over eat when I do go out. The next day I’d continue with the Slimming World plan. I’d also make sure to be organised and have a food shop done so you don’t reach for junk food the next day after a night out.”
Rosalyn is an inspiration to many and her before and after photographs show the huge transformation she has undergone over recent years. She knows, more than anyone, the benefits of losing weight, if you can and when asked what advice she would give to someone trying to drop a few pounds, she said: “Do it for yourself.”
She explained: “You have to want it for yourself, not for anyone else.
“Ask a friend to join with you even if it’s just support of having someone with you. The support is there for everyone. Nobody will judge.
“Everyone is at Slimming World for the same reason and the people who are attending the group become your friends. Social media is a great support network with group pages, and a great way to find answers and get new recipe ideas. Also, it can keep you motivated too, day and night.”
She told how other motivational tips that work for her are imagining where you’ll get to in a certain time frame and using clothes you love as inspiration.
She said: “Even pick an event that’s coming up - focus on that to get started. Hang your favourite dress up where you can see and aim to get back into it. Make small goals that you can achieve easily.
“I didn’t set out to lose eight stone. But with every half stone lost, it motivated me to get to the next. And when you start seeing the results, it’s an amazing feeling.”
Two years from the day her worried parents sat her down, Rosalyn is a changed woman, not just in weight, but in fitness and mind set.
“People can’t believe how much I’ve changed,” she said.
“I even have people walking past me because they don’t recognise me, which is mad. People always have words of encouragement and are full of compliments, which is lovely.”