Family cycle ride pushed me to big weight loss

Slimmer Suzanne Harwood - before
Slimmer Suzanne Harwood - before

BUSY mum Suzanne Harwood had always found weight loss an uphill struggle – but when she couldn’t keep up with her children on a family bike ride, she decided to take action.

In just four months, she lost more than four stone, plummeting from a size 22 to a trim 14. And now she is determined to stay that way.

Suzanne Harwood near her home in Gleadless who lost five stone when she joined Lighter Life

Suzanne Harwood near her home in Gleadless who lost five stone when she joined Lighter Life

Suzanne, aged 33, of Gleadless, had battled with her weight since leaving home. “I’ve always liked my food but my mum stopped me from over-eating. Once I left home I had what I wanted, and every pregnancy added to the problem.”

In 2007 Suzanne joined weight loss scheme LighterLife and managed to drop five stone on their programme of meal supplements and milkshakes.

But as soon as she went back to eating normal food, she returned to her old ways, and gradually the weight crept back on.

“Then I got pregnant again and I used that as an excuse,” admits Suzanne, a nurse support worker who has three children under 14. “I quickly got into really bad eating habits and over the next four years put on all the weight I’d lost and more.”

But all that changed when the family went on holiday to Center Parcs in August. They hired bikes and while husband Glenn and the children rode on ahead, Suzanne found her legs simply couldn’t get her up even the slightest hill.

When they got home she turned to LighterLife once again and signed up for counsellor Joanne Cain’s classes in Sheffield. At that stage she weighed 16st 13lb.

Over the next four months she kept to the programme, replacing ordinary meals with four specially formulated food packs a day: “They’re not the nicest thing in the world to eat, but they do the job.”

By Christmas she was down to 12 stone – and when the family returned to Center Parcs she had no trouble keeping up with the rest of the family.

Now Suzanne is eating normally again, but is determined not to slip back into her old ways. She has completed a follow-on weight management programme, with continuing weekly sessions to help ensure a permanent lifestyle change.

“Losing the weight is actually the easy part – it’s afterwards when it gets tricky and I learnt that lesson the hard way. I know my triggers now and the fact that I struggle to control my urges. We’ve had all three children’s birthdays this month and I’ve had cake, but I’ve compensated by sticking to healthy eating the rest of the time.

“I’ve also joined the gym, which I couldn’t even have done before. I feel better in myself and I don’t want that to change.”