Heartbroken when she lost her granddad and realised she had no photos with him as, a size 20, she had been too ashamed to pose, a mum shed six stone, slashed £12,000 from her food bill and is now treating her family to a ‘snap happy’ holiday to the USA.
Gorging on sweet treats and snacks, then a stay-at-home mum, Gillian McCallum, 38, was consuming between 3,000 and 5,000 calories a day – massively exceeding the 2,000 recommended for women by the NHS – when her grandfather, James Dougan, 93, died in July 2017.
Fearful she would be fat-shamed by photos, she had avoided cameras and was left with hardly any pictures to remember him by.
But her sadness was the trigger Gillian, of Wilshaw, North Lanarkshire, Scotland, who has four children – Alyssa, 13, Noah, 12, Mason, eight, and Alexa, seven – with her husband, Scott, 39, a council manager, needed to finally lose weight.
She said: “When my granddad died and I realised how few photos I had with him, I kept thinking, ‘What if something happened to me? What memories would the kids be left with if they don’t have any photos of me?'”
At 5ft 3in, Gillian’s body mass index (BMI) – used as a gauge of healthy weight – was around 35, compared to the NHS recommended level of between 18.5 and 25.
And her over-eating meant she was spending £250 on the weekly shop after yo-yo dieting for the best part of 20 years, during which time her weight had fluctuated between 10 and 14-and-a-half stone.
She said: “I was so self-conscious about my size that I’d been avoiding having my photo taken for over a decade, and when my granddad died, I realised my weight was taking over my life.
“I’ve always had social anxiety but being fat was making me hide away from the camera.”
She continued: “I’d tried most of the diets out there and fallen into a pattern of losing the weight, falling pregnant, then not being able to shift it again.
“With each pregnancy I put on more and more weight – and it stayed.”
But this time, after a few months of dithering, determined to regain her confidence and beat the bulge once and for all, Gillian signed up with a consultant as part of the 1:1 Diet, and within six months she reached her target weight – a svelte 8st 10lb size 10.
No longer pigging out on snacks and cooking healthy meals, her weekly grocery bill has shrunk to just £100, while her daily calories have reduced simultaneously to around 1,500.
And she has saved so much money over the past 18 months that, this month, she is splashing out on a 16-day family holiday to America – their first big foreign trip in a decade.
She said, proudly: “We’ve drastically reduced our budget by changing how we eat and now the whole family is reaping the benefits.”
“The thought of wearing a swimsuit on holiday used to be the stuff of nightmares – now I can’t wait,” Gillian explained.
While Gillian used to kickstart her day with a bowl of sugary cereal, followed by a chocolate bar or junk food for lunch, oven pizza for dinner and snacks of crisps, chocolate, ice cream and bread, since adopting the 1:1 Diet by Cambridge Weight Plan, following a friend’s advice, her diet has changed drastically.
Attending her first meeting in February 2018, she adopted a strict 1,500 calorie daily eating plan – and the pounds started flying off.
“Most people are put off by meal plans but, as a busy mum of four, it was the stuff of dreams,” she added.
Setting herself a target weight of nine stone, by July 2018, Gillian reached her goal and has been able to maintain her weight with her calorie-conscious diet.
Now, she starts her day with porridge, followed by grilled fish and vegetables for lunch and steak or chicken with vegetables for dinner, as well as snacks like mixed nuts throughout the day.
And her spending has shrunk alongside her waistline.
She explained: “We’ve drastically reduced our weekly food bill.
“We used to buy mountains of frozen ready meals, sweets and snacks – as well as a weekly takeaway. Now we’re careful spenders.”
Cutting her weekly grocery spending from roughly £250 to a more modest £100, Gillian is using the savings to fund the trip of a lifetime this month to Utah, Arizona and Nevada in the USA.
“It will be our first holiday abroad in 10 years and I know for a fact we wouldn’t have been able to afford it if I hadn’t signed up to the 1:1 Diet,” she added.
Maintaining her trim figure for over a year, Gillian’s lifestyle overhaul has been so impressive that she has now become a weight loss consultant for 1:1 and hopes her success story will inspire other people who are struggling with their weight to transform their lives.
“I know what it’s like to be miserable about your weight, feeling like your trapped in a black hole and you’ll never get out,” she said.
“But I’m living proof that all that can change – it’s never too late.
“I’ve finally got my smile back and I want to help other people to find that too.”