A WOMAN who lost an astonishing 13st has narrowly missed out on winning a national title for super slimmers.
Gillian Close, from Peterlee, dropped from 23st 9lb to 10st 3lb to reach the final of Slimming World’s Woman of the Year 2013 competition.
Gillian’s impressive weight loss saw her earn a place as one of just 58 women from across the UK and Ireland who reached the later stages of the competition.
And even though she didn’t win the competition outright, Gillian admits she can’t stop smiling!
Gillian joined the Peterlee Slimming World group, which meets every Monday at 5pm-7pm at Peterlee Methodist Church, in January 2012.
Earlier this year her transformation inspired members of the group to vote her as their representative in the annual Woman of the Year competition.
Then after winning the regional heat, Gillian secured a place in the national semi-finals, putting her in the running to win the overall title Slimming World Woman of the Year 2013 and a once-in-a-lifetime holiday to Marrakesh.
The 39-year-old mum-of-three said: “I’d tried losing weight before but I always failed miserably because the diets I followed would leave me feeling hungry and deprived and so I’d be miserable too.
“I’d miss my favourite foods too much so before long I’d have thrown in the towel and be back where I started.
“Slimming World was completely different to anything I’d known before – I didn’t have to go hungry and I’ve never once felt like I’m missing out on anything.
“The changes I made to the way I cooked and ate were small ones, like swapping white bread for wholemeal and using low calorie spray instead of oil or butter, but they made a big difference.
“They meant I could still enjoy all my favourites, from simple meals like beans on toast or a tuna sandwich through to dishes like roast dinners and curries, and lose weight.
“It was great to be able to eat the same as my family and friends instead of having to have a separate ‘diet’ dinner too, so they’ve benefited from eating more healthily without even trying!”
Gillian and the other finalists were congratulated on their efforts by singer Brian McFadden, formerly of boyband Westlife, at a presentation ceremony held in Birmingham at the weekend.
She added: “If ever my motivation did start to fade, my consultant and the rest of the group were there to remind me how far I’d come.
“Each week we talk about coping with different challenges coming up and share recipes, advice and top tips like offers we’ve seen in local supermarkets. We laugh a lot and celebrate our success too and I’ve made so many friends that I love going to my group every week. Thanks to them – and my weight loss – I’m slimmer but my smile is so much bigger.”
Amanda Tate, who runs the Peterlee group which Gillian attends, said: “Gillian doesn’t only look great on the outside, she’s a new woman on the inside too.
“Nowadays she’s unrecognisable from the shy, unhappy woman who walked into the group all those months ago.
“She’s happier, healthier and more confident, and her success is contagious as she’s inspired so many other people in the group.”
Speaking about Gillian’s achievement, McFadden said: “What she’s done is nothing short of incredible.
“Gillian is proof that by making changes to her eating habits and getting active she’s obviously completely changed her life – and she looks great on it.”
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