Thankfully, today is a different story.
Karen joined Weight Watchers in June 2013, on a mission to change her lifestyle.
“Only four of the tops in my wardrobe would fit me and I was determined not to go up another dress size,” she explains. “I wanted to shop for clothes on the high street, basically anywhere other than stores who did plus sizes.”
It was thanks to joining Weight Watchers that Karen discovered I Will If You Will (IWIYW), with plenty of exercise classes happening on her doorstep to motivate her.
“Group exercise and nutritional advice has been the success for me. I don’t look back on my pictures and feel unhappy or have regrets, but I do feel much healthier now and love the fact I can buy clothes from all shops!” she says.
“I love going to the IWIYW Zumba classes with Debbie, Julie, Anna and Zoe from DJ Fitness, plus I’ve recently tried Pound which is fantastic! I do more exercise now than I ever have and I love it. My sister Vikki recently discovered Pound right on her doorstep and after jogging there and back in five minutes with us on a Wednesday night, she’s looking for other IWIYW classes in the same area.”
Having lost 50lbs and developed a love of exercise, Karen didn’t want to stop there – she wanted to help others. She’s now helping her daughter, Chloe, to get fit and they’re supporting and encouraging each other along the way.
“My daughter also loves Pound and is feeling fitter already. The added bonus is that we’re spending time together while getting fit. The classes are so welcoming that it doesn't matter what level you can do or, more importantly for me, if you go the wrong way or miss a step,” says Karen.
“The IWIYW instructors are inspiring and I can definitely say I am fitter and healthier than I can ever remember, plus I’m having fun at the same time!”
Karen is a higher level teaching assistant at St. Margaret's Primary School in Heywood and over the past few years, during her own journey to fitness, she’s now teaching PE when she covers teachers’ planning time.
“Due to my own dislike of PE at school, I just want the children to enjoy PE and not worry about it,” explains Karen. “I’m planning to run an after-school club for children who find PE difficult or don’t enjoy it.”
Karen is also the school’s joint healthy school co-ordinator and works a lot with the children around healthy eating and healthy lifestyles.
“I’m now 1st 7lbs off my target weight and will continue on with my journey – I’m not unhappy it’s taken me so long because I like to socialise and enjoy life,” she explains.
“I feel IWIYW group exercise classes are fun and a great way to get fit with encouragement from others, and it’s thanks to instructors from IWIYW that I am where I am.”
Karen attends Weight Watchers with Helene Black at Elton Vale Sports Club.
“We get excellent support from Helene and our closed Facebook page, where we can all support each other and swap recipe ideas,” she says.