How this Portsmouth woman lost half her body weight

It was a documentary about obesity which encouraged Sally Hurley to turn her life around.

By Annie Lewis
Monday, 25th January 2021, 11:24 am
Half the woman she was... Sally Hurley with a souvenir of her old self Picture: Sarah Standing (050121-502)

She was on a fast-track road to becoming obese, unfit and ultimately limiting her own life, weighing in at 20 stone at her heaviest.

Now a trim 10-stone, the 46-year-old grandmother from Portsmouth says she owes her life to Slimming World. She loves it so much that she has recently become a Slimming World Consultant.

‘Losing weight has given me so much confidence,’ says Sally.

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Sally Hurley in the summer of 2018 when she put back on four stones.

‘I used to be a very introverted person but I am more comfortable in my body now.’

In 2019, Sally was one of four people in the south to receive Slimming World’s Club 50 award for losing half of her body weight.

But she admits it wasn’t always plain sailing and her weight-loss journey began in 2011.

‘I saw a documentary about obesity and it changed my outlook. I was 20 stone and I just thought I wanted to be able to see my children grow up,’ explains Sally.

Sally Hurley, right, receiving her award from Slimming World consultant Linda Richards.

‘I saw how similar people to me were overweight and struggling to play with their children. At that time, my six children were aged between six-17.

‘My two nieces joined Slimming World and I thought I should give it a go. I started 10 years ago at Buckland and have never left.

‘Everybody was really kind. I was so scared because I thought I would be judged about my weight but it wasn’t like that at all.

‘They were all so supportive.’

Sally was never told she was clinically obese however hints from doctors and consultants gave her the motivation to change.

She says: ‘Doctors never told me directly that I needed to lose weight but they did say when I was at other appointments that losing weight would be good for my general health.

‘After I had my children, I was looking into getting sterilised but the consultant told me I was too big. Coming from a consultant who wasn’t particularly slim, it was a real kick in the teeth.’

When Sally first started dieting with Slimming World, she lost five stone in 10 months.

Sally explains: ‘I then plateaued for a while because two major events happened in my life in a short space of time.

‘My sister died which knocked me for six. She brought me up really, I was lost without her.

‘I took some time away from Slimming World. I never quit because I knew if I did, I would never go back.’

Further family problems led Sally to gain nearly all of the weight she worked so hard to lose when she put on another four stone between 2016-2018.

‘I think I ate when I was stressed and it was also a comfort for me,’ says Sally.

‘I reached my eight stone target in 2015 and then I gained four stone in the following three years. It was really disheartening.’

However, in the space of a year from September 2018 to 2019, Sally lost six stone thanks to her Slimming World diet and dedication to swimming.

‘I tried to swim four or five kilometres at a time,’ explains Sally.

‘I have recently got into running during the first lockdown. I have signed up to a number of challenges. I ran 65 miles in one month and have signed up to do a 100 mile challenge too.

‘I recently signed up to do a virtual Land’s End to John O Groats running challenge this year.’

Although she has persevered and seen great results, Sally admits that it takes strength and motivation to achieve your goals.

She says: ‘I did find it hard to stay motivated like everyone does.

‘But I thought that this is what I needed to do to be there for my family. I am now a grandmother so my motivation is to be there for my grandchildren.

‘It’s about perseverance. When I was struggling I did not quit completely because I did not want to start back at zero.’

Sally has now done full circle and started her own Slimming World club which started at St Joseph’s Hall, Baffins, but is no conducting sessions on Zoom.

She says: ‘I was approached by Slimming World to think about becoming a consultant but I never had the time before now. I was made redundant this year from my job at the Age UK Charity Shop in Arundel Street.

‘It’s over Zoom at the moment

‘I’m loving it. I think what helps is that I have been in in their shoes.’

To contact Sally about her Slimming World club, call her on 07933 114 375.

How does Slimming World work?

According to Slimming World, its clients lose weight through three steps.

One is diet, which they call a ‘healthy, no-hunger plan’. This focuses on ‘free foods’ which can be eaten in unlimited amounts as long as they are not cooked in oil or butter.

This includes foods like lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, dried pasta, rice, potatoes, fruit and veg.

This unrestrictive diet allocates a Syn value to certain foods. Slimming World members are encouraged to plan five-15 Syns a day to keep their weight loss on track, without not eating the foods they love.

Another step is called ‘body magic’. Alongside dieting, clients are encouraged to include more ‘magical movement’ into their day-to-day routine, such as taking the stairs instead of the lift or joining fitness classes.

Lastly, Slimming World’s ‘unbeatable support’ involves a support network of like-minded slimmers all striving for similar goals and thereby encouraging one another to reach them.

For more information about Slimming World, go to and find a group near you, where you will be met (virtually) by a consultant like Sally.