There are as many different reasons why people join WW the new weight watchers as there are members. What’s common to them all is that they are significant to the person concerned. None more so that Grace Dowling who experienced a serious health scare during her second pregnancy. “I knew I had to tackle the situation once the baby was born,” says Grace who is from County Limerick. “Once I had my six weeks check-up after he was born, I joined”.
Fastforward nine years and Grace not only continues to maintain her weight loss but is now a WW Coach. “That health scare focused my mind, I wanted to see my children grow up.”
Right from the start, Grace got into the habit of making changes to her eating habits rather than avoiding foods. “I started swapping full-fat products for lighter, lowfat alternatives and that has now become the norm for me. I don’t even have to think about it now, I automatically reach for the lighter option and that is one of the things that has helped me stay at my goal weight all this time”.
While losing weight naturally presented challenges for her, Grace was surprised to find maintaining her weight initally was also challenging. “Stepping on the scales and finding I had lost a pound or two was a wonderful thrill. At goal weight, however, it was difficult to get the same buzz from being told I had stayed the same. It also took me a while to get used to eating more food and trusting that I wouldn’t put on weight again.”
When she became a Gold Member, Grace decided to join an Athletic Club. “I go running two or three times every week and I completed two Marathons in the one year which fulfilled a lifetime ambition twice over. The freedom to decide to join something like that is one of the great benefits of being at my goal weight. I can decide to do something – and then just do it.”
Comparing her life before her son was born to now, Grace says she has had a complete lifestyle change. “I re-educated my palette. Now I thoroughly enjoy a nice salad along with things like cous-cous and pasta salads which are foods I would never have tried before. Now with the Freestyle programme its even easier to enjoy all the foods I love. I don’t have any special foods in the press or shelf in the fridge just for my food. We eat as a family which means my children are growing up thinking healthy, tasty foods are the norm.
From day one, Grace decided she wasn’t going to lose weight by denying herself. “I wasn’t prepared to spend my life thinking I could never eat bread again.” Instead she started making treat swaps. “I still have my mini-Crunchie every day. It was what I did while I was losing my weight and still enjoy it all these years later. When I go to a workshop, I hate to hear someone talking about how they can’t have bread or cheese or chocolate ever again because they can – all the way to goal and beyond.”
Grace continues to keep track of her SmartPoints®. “I’m a working mother with two young children to mind so I don’t have loads of free time, but losing and maintaining my weight was, and remains, vital to me so I give it the time it needs. If someone reading this is telling themselves they haven’t the time I want to say “yes you do” and “yes you can”. It doesn’t take long and it definitely gets easier with time.”
“In some ways things stay the same and in other ways they have changed so much. For example, I still need and appreciate the support and encouragement of my family and friends along with my wonderful members.”
Grace holds workshops in WW Centre, Unit 5 Mount Kennett, Dock Road, Limerick, V94 CF90, on Monday’s at 5.15pm. Charlevile GAA Centre, Cork on Tuesdays at 6.30pm. Newcastle West Community Centre, Limerick on Wednesday’s at 6.30 pm. Check out her Facebook page for more Weight Watchers Ireland with Grace Dowling (wwwithgracedowling).
GRACE’S TOP TIPS
- Give yourself a chance. Don’t just join and give up a week later. A month isn’t a long time, but it’s amazing the difference that month can make.
- Have, and enjoy, everything you like to eat – but in moderation.
- Realise that it’s only yourself you are fooling when you start making excuses.
- Don’t just go to your workshop, actively participate. Share what is working for you, try out the suggestions you hear and feed off the positivity in the room.
“Joining WW gave me a second chance at a full, healthy life and I took it. In fact I suppose you could say I (literally) ran with it!”
*Results can vary from person to person.