She’d been playing hockey since she was 13. So when Gaynor Toms realised she’d gradually drifted off the pitch on to the sidelines, it came as a real shock.
No longer able to keep up with this fast-paced, physical game – and too embarrassed to be seen in a hockey skirt – Gaynor had simply stopped playing.
‘I was still going down to matches, I just couldn’t play any more,’ explains the 40-year-old.
‘I noticed that I’d become an observer. I couldn’t play with the kids either because if I managed to get down on the floor, I couldn’t get back up again. I was very depressed.’
At more than 16 stone, Gaynor was overweight and desperately unhappy. She’d seen the pounds creep on over the years and when she developed gestational diabetes while carrying her son, Bobby, now five, her weight problem got even worse.
As a PE lecturer at Gosport’s St Vincent College, Gaynor no longer felt comfortable giving tips on health and fitness to students.
‘It was hypocritical,’ she says.
‘I was talking about fitness, diet and the importance of a healthy lifestyle, but I was overweight.’
As her body ballooned, she began turning down invitations to go out and became increasingly withdrawn.
Wearing size 24 clothes had made it hard to find anything she felt good in and as the mum-of-two realised the relationship she had with herself and her family was suffering, she realised she had to make a change.
So Gaynor joined a slimming club and says the camaraderie and sensible eating plan helped her lose weight, shape up and rediscover her love for hockey.
Today she’s celebrating after losing five stone and dropping six dress sizes. And after rejoining her hockey team, she even helped them move up a division.
‘My cousin had joined Slimming World and was doing really well,’ remembers Gaynor.
‘I liked the idea of being able to eat as much as I wanted because I’m not a very nice person when I’m hungry. The weight just came off.’
Gaynor stopped heating up ready-prepared food and began cooking from scratch instead. She was careful about portion sizes and switched oil for Fry Lite spray. Takeaways were put on hold in favour of healthier options and Gaynor planned meals in advance to stop her reaching for the first thing she found in the cupboard.
‘I had lost weight before but I did wonder why it wasn’t working for me on my own,’ she adds. ‘I’m a competitive person and I think the social part of going to the group is what kept me going.’
With the help of group leader Christine Micallef and the other members, Gaynor hit her target weight of 11 stone in December and has maintained her new size 12 figure ever since.