It is no surprise that a mix of healthy eating and exercise is the way to maintaining a balanced weight.
Yet, for some, it can be difficult to stick to the right types of foods as tasty treats like chocolate and crisps can be too tempting to regularly avoid.
Dawn Pace, of Washington, near Sunderland, struggled with her weight for a number of years as she ballooned to a size 20, tipping the scales at 15st 12lbs.
It was not until after visiting her local GP that she was spurred into action to shed the pounds as she knew her health was suffering.
Now the mother-of-one, who is 5ft 3in, has shed a third of her body weight, after losing more than 5st in weight, with the help of exercising up to seven hours each week.
Dawn, 51, a biomedical scientist at the University Hospital of North Durham, said: “A few years ago my weight had spiralled out of control. I had no energy and felt ashamed of the way I looked when I went out.
“I realised I had to do something about it and fast, so I bought an exercise bike for my 50th birthday. However, I had pains in my chest and was very out of breath whenever I used it.
“I tried walking but even this left me breathless and in pain. I felt absolutely lost and couldn’t find a way to help myself so I made an appointment to see my GP.
“My doctor, Dr Michael Hubbard, explained I was putting too much stress on my body. He put me on the right path, suggesting I reduce my calorie intake and start a gentle introduction to exercise with swimming. It was a winning formula for me.”
Things had got so bad that Dawn, who is married to Derek, 54, a cellular pathology manager, could not find a white coat big enough to fit her at work.
Just five months after embarking on her weight loss programme, Dawn was able to take up more vigorous exercise and now regularly works out at the gym and swims. She will even take part in a swimathon at Newcastle’s Elswick Park pool in March, the Race for Life in June and is training for this year’s Great North Run.
Dawn now weighs in at a healthy 10st 8lb and wears a size 12, vowing never to go back to her old ways.
“I can honestly say I had no difficulty in losing the weight,” she explained.
“I think it’s just a question of being determined. It’s also important to not bore yourself while dieting and give yourself the odd treat.
“I used to have a toastie and chocolate biscuit for breakfast, two full dinners a day and crisps and chocolate for snacks.
“By making better choices, eating more healthily and doing exercise, I have transformed my life.
“Losing weight and changing my body shape has improved my self-esteem and working out definitely gives you the ‘feel-good’ factor. I’m more active and have loads more energy.
“Because I lost weight in a controlled way I’m also confident of being able to maintain my weight in the long term.”
Dawn says her daughter, Claire Marie, 26, is delighted at her mother’s dramatic transformation.
“My daughter is almost as proud of my weight loss as I am of her and she is very supportive and encouraging of me,” explained Dawn.
“Her passion is clothes shopping and I now have the energy to walk round the shops with her without needing to sit down every few minutes for a rest.”
Reducing levels of obesity is a key priority of NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the organisation which plans and buys local NHS health services for the people of Sunderland.
The CCG , working with the local authority, is committed to creating a better quality of life for local people by reducing lifestyle behaviours such as obesity, smoking and alcohol abuse, which pose a major risk to health.
Dawn is now encouraging others at her GP’s surgery, Westbourne Medical Group, in Houghton-le-Spring, to lose weight and get fit for the benefit of themselves and their family.
She said: “I hope my story can inspire those needing help. Losing weight has made such a difference to my life. I think it’s important to encourage other people because the benefits of losing weight and getting fit are unbelievable.
“Losing weight has opened so many new doors to me and I’ve built up a great, supportive network of friends at the pool and gym who have all helped me on my journey. The support is out there, just give it a go and don’t wait until tomorrow.”
Partner at Westbourne Medical Group and Sunderland CCG executive manager lead Gloria Middleton and nurse practitioner Lynn Muthu were so impressed by Dawn’s weight loss that they decided to start a group weigh-in at their practice.
The weigh-in takes place every Friday at noon and everyone is welcome to join in.
Lynn also offers advice on healthy eating and helps people in her own time who can’t make the weekly weigh-in.
“The session is about supporting our patients,” said Gloria.
“Everyone who is taking part is losing weight – albeit at different rates. Because it’s seen as a social thing, we don’t want to let each other down. It really is a support group without having to spend money.
“A lot of the staff have also got involved as well because we don’t want to let our patients down.
“Dawn was our inspiration,” added Gloria, who herself has lost weight as a result of the scheme.
More than two years ago, The Journal collaborated with Nova International to launch our Great North Fitness Revolution.
The campaign is challenging everyone to make a pledge to get active and make the positive changes that will lead to a better quality of life.
Dawn’s daily diet before her weight loss
- Breakfast: Bacon or sausage butty or pate on toast, three cups of tea with chocolate digestive biscuits.
- Mid-morning break: Packet of full fat crisps or chocolate bar and a can of pop.
- Lunchtime: Full roast dinner or mince and dumplings. Can of pop.
- Afternoon break: Several cups of tea and chocolate biscuits.
- Evening meal: Fish and chips, pizza, takeaway Indian curry or sticky BBQ ribs and garlic bread. Two glasses of wine.
- Bedtime : Cup of tea and chocolate bar.
- Exercise: Zero
Dawn’s daily diet now
- Breakfast: Bowl of porridge made with fresh semi-skimmed milk with 10g of added dried fruit. Cup of tea. Bowl of fresh fruit. Cup of liquorice or ginger infusion tea.
- Weekend treat of skinless sausages or Weight Watchers bacon rashers with tinned tomatoes on toast.
- Mid-morning break: Packet of Snackajacks. Bottle of water.
- Lunchtime: Low calorie sandwich on seeded bread and side-salad or carton of fresh carrot and corriander soup with seeded batch bread. Can of diet pop.
- Afternoon break: Piece of fresh fruit. Peppermint tea.
- Evening meal: Skinless chicken fillet in basil and tomato sauce. Boiled new potatoes and mountains of fresh vegetables. Weight Watchers garlic bread mini stick. Weight Watchers sticky toffee pudding or mousse. Flavoured fizzy water.
- Bedtime: Low calorie chocolate drink. Jaffa cake treat.
- Exercise: Very active.