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Laura Cain feared she might not have long left to live after her weight shot up to 30 stone after a series of traumatic experiences.
They included contracting swine flu – which saw her placed on life support – as well as succumbing to meningitis and suffering with brittle asthma and fibromyalgia.
Her grueling health battles and growing weight left her so poorly she was unable to take her son, Domanic, to school, as she struggled to leave her house and felt trapped.
Today, 5ft 6ins Laura has turned her life around in dramatic fashion, after her son encouraged her to sign up for Slimming World. She joined Slimming World Southport with Dee, led by Dee Wright, and has been spurred on by the constant support of Dee and the fellow ‘geese’ (members) in her group.
Laura has lost over half her body weight, going from over 30 stone to a slender 12st 10lbs (as of Thursday, 13th January). She was recently voted as this year’s ‘Miss Slinky’ by members of her Slimming World group in Southport. She wants to share the story of her incredible journey to inspire other people to take that first step towards losing weight.
“My life has changed so much mentally and physically but most of all I can now be the mum I’ve always wanted to be to my son, Dom.
“I can take him to fun places, and I can walk with him to his school, at Marshside Primary in Southport.
“My health still isn’t 100%. I still suffer with brittle asthma and fibromyalgia but at least I am not a ticking time bomb at 30 stone.
“Domanic was nine years old in November. He’s amazing.
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him.
“He is the reason why I never gave up.
“I shared a face to face picture on Facebook recently, comparing an old picture with a new one. Even though I was smiling on the old one, it wasn’t a real smile because behind it I was hurting, embarrassed and in pain. I felt stuck.
“I’m so happy and proud now it’s so overwhelming, especially when people stop me in town.
“I now weigh 12st 12lbs and I’ve set my final target at 12st 6lbs.
“I can’t believe I have lost over 17 stone!
“My auntie unexpectedly passed away recently. When I went to see all my family, I told my uncle that my award was for Auntie Sue.”
The proud mum developed swine flu 11 years ago and was placed on a life support machine in a desperate bid to survive. She was so ill afterwards, she had to learn how to walk again. Three years later, in 2012, Laura contracted meningitis after giving birth to Domanic. While fighting back from those traumatic episodes, brave Laura also had to contend with living with brittle asthma, diagnosed in 2008, and fibromyalgia, and also developed a huge hernia.
Laura said: “I have been overweight since high school. Then in 2008 I was diagnosed with brittle asthma and have been on steroids ever since, which has affected my weight.
“I was one of these people who would join Slimming World, do it for a while then give up. I also tried Weight Watchers, and those awful shake diets.
“Over the last few years, I have struggled a lot with my health.
“I have been on a hell of a lot of medication for my asthma. I also had to use a walker with a seat, not just because I get out of breath, but because of the amount of pain I was in with my back, due to the weight of the hernia.”
Four years ago, Laura was referred by her asthma consultant to have weight loss surgery. He told her the operation would not be possible until she lost enough weight. She tried various ways of shifting the pounds, but was making little headway until 2017 when she began noticing inspiring posts appearing on Facebook by local Slimming World consultant Dee Wright.
Laura said: “Dee and I messaged each other a few times but the thought of going to a new Slimming World group scared me. I kept thinking I was going to get judged.
“But I knew one girl who was already a member at Dee’s group. She told me what a lovely group it was and how amazing Dee is, so that was it – I braved it. I got a taxi right to the front door and walked in to Dee welcoming me and giving me a huge hug.”
Laura, who went to school at Stanley High School in Southport, changed her diet completely. She used to eat lots of takeaways and enjoyed eating out, and indulged too much in things like bread, barm cakes, butter, and chocolate alongside her cups of tea. Now she enjoys grape nuts or Weetabix for breakfast with yoghurt or semi-skimmed milk; tuna with salad or jacket potato for lunch; and then Slimming World curry or chilli for dinner.
Next came her daunting surgery.
Laura said: “I was so scared and nervous. I had never had surgery before.
“All I kept thinking was that I was doing this for my health and to be here to see my son grow up.
“If it wasn’t for Dom, I wouldn’t be here.
“Every morning I woke up and I kept saying ‘I have to get up, I can’t give up, because I’m doing this for Domanic’.
“So I had surgery. I had a gastric sleeve which basically meant they removed two thirds of my stomach. It has made my stomach smaller so I can’t eat as much.
“I could still eat badly if I wanted to, but I don’t. I stick to food optimising with Slimming World. I attend a group every week for the love and support and amazing tips I get there.
“I want to say to anyone who is out there struggling with their weight please, please join a Slimming World group like Dee’s because the benefits you will get are amazing.”
Doctors have played a huge part in supporting Laura on her journey. A gastric sleeve operation three years ago really helped her, and her determination has seen her eating ‘on plan’ with Slimming World ever since. This year she finally went in for her long-awaited hernia operation.
Laura said: “My hernia operation went amazingly well. The operation took around four hours and I was in hospital for a week.
“The doctors removed just over 7lbs of skin too. It was painful but was so worth it. I now feel more confident when out and about. I am even wearing dresses now – I have just bought a size 12 dress from Primark!”
However, there is one further operation she really wants.
“I have been left with a lot of loose skin which the NHS unfortunately won’t operate on to remove because it’s classed as ‘cosmetic’ which, to be honest, has annoyed me because I have worked really hard to lose my weight. I did it to save my life, not look like a page 3 model!
“I would have to pay privately to have the operation, and in the UK it costs far too much. But I also have to remember that the skin won’t kill me, but the extra weight would have done.”
Laura’s journey to lose over 17 stone has taken huge courage and determination, over many months. Nothing deterred her from her ambition to lose weight, not even lockdown. At her home in Southport she now has a wall full of Slimming World certificates proudly displaying all her stone and half stone losses, her Slimmer of the Week triumphs, her Woman of the Year accolades, and many more. It is a shrine to what can be achieved, and Laura is now eager to share her story to try and inspire others to believe – you can do it.
“It was four years ago recently since I first joined Dee Wright, at Slimming World. I was there for a bit then gave up. I then rejoined in 2019 after Dee posted me a card to say the ‘geese’ (fellow Slimming World members) are with me. I know I have had weight loss surgery, but I stuck to the Slimming World plan, with small portions.
“For anyone who might be thinking about joining but who is too scared to, I would say don’t – because it’s life changing for anyone who walks through the doors of Slimming World.
“I couldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for Dee and her groups. Like we always say, we’re ‘a flock of geese’ and we honk each other on. I have been to many Slimming World groups over the years, and Dee’s is by far the best.
“I would also like to say thank you to the medical professionals who have helped me to get where I am today; Mr Scott and Mr West at Whiston Hospital and Dr Mcmanus at Ormskirk Hospital. If it wasn’t for these guys I wouldn’t have had weight loss surgery and I wouldn’t have had my hernia operation carried out so successfully either.”
Laura has seen huge changes to her diet, thanks to all the help and advice from Slimming World and from Dee.
“Four years ago I would eat so much bread and butter, crisps, etc. I was emotional eating, stress eating.
“I would eat out, but never chose to eat any of the healthy stuff. Now I stick to the Slimming World plan. Even when I am eating out, I plan what I can have. I’m definitely able to do so many more things, especially with Dom. I have been enjoying seeing friends more, enjoying times I have been out, and not being in hiding any more!
“I am still not working due to my brittle asthma and fibromyalgia. I used to love hairdressing, then I moved from job to job, but I have not worked for over 10 years because of my health. But I would love to go back to work once I have got the heads up from my consultants.
“During the last 12 years. I have been trapped in a body I have wanted to get out of. Now I have finally done it. Life has been a steep climb, but the view from where I am now is great!
“I have got amazing friends and family and, of course, my amazing son Dom. I couldn’t have done this without him.”
Laura’s Slimming World consultant, Dee Wright, lost six stone herself before taking on her role, so has been able to support Laura with her challenge every step of the way.
“Laura has achieved incredible success with our groups and the Slimming World plan. She is an absolute inspiration and reminds us that if we keep our ‘why’ in mind it will spur us on in tough times.
“Awarding her all these achievements is amazing. The Club 50 award which is awarded for achieving a loss of half her starting body weight is amazing – that was 15 stone for Laura!
“Not only had she halved her body weight she has taken 60 per cent off her starting BMI too! The impact of this on her life and future health is truly life changing.
“Having the hernia surgery earlier this year is life transforming too and I was so happy that the professionals said the success of the surgery and her recovery was aided by her weight loss.
“Slimming World has over 51 years experience in the psychology of Slimming. This along with our amazing food optimising plan helps members make changes that are sustainable for life. Our groups are safe and non-judgemental places for members to get help and support.
“Our groups are held at St Simon and St Judes church on Old Park Lane, Southport PR9 7BQ on: Thursdays at 9.30am, 5.30pm and 7pm; on Fridays at 9.30am and 11am.
“Congratulations to Laura on achieving Woman of the Year in our groups and her 17 stone loss.
“I am sure that Laura will agree the greatest prize is the life she has gained.
“I want to thank Laura for sharing her story, I know that one of her greatest desires is to inspire others to take that vital first step that can help them too.”
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