Five women put on their party dresses last night and sparkled in a way they wouldn’t have done eleven weeks ago.
Each of them has seen their life transformed after embarking on The Sparkle Challenge at The Health Boutique in Eastbourne Road.
They have lost more than a stone each and been pleased to see inches disappearing from arms and tummies. More than that they have become good friends supporting each other through the ten week challenge.
The journey began in September when The Health Boutique advertised, via Facebook, for local residents to take part in a free weight loss challenge.
More than 100 applicants wrote about their reasons for wanting to take part and what a difference weight loss would make to their lives. Ten were chosen to be involved and last night there was the chance to celebrate all that had been achieved. Not all were able to be there.
Single mum Laura Skelton, 45, from Manor Park was last night, for the first time, wearing a dress she bought two years ago but couldn’t previously fit into. “The challenge has been brilliant,” she said.
Bride-to-be Felicity, 33, wanted to be in good shape for her wedding next summer. She hadn’t expected to also feel 100% fitter and healthier than when she started the weight loss programme.
“I feel so much better, more confident, in my own body and skin. There has been an amazing change in my head.”
Felicity said she hadn’t realised how many inches she would lose and how her whole way of thinking would change. “The experience has been amazing.”
Each of the women and three others who began the programme with them – two dropped out – are determined to carry on with their new lifestyles and have joined The Health Boutique so they can carry on losing weight and toning their bodies.
The challenge has seen the women changing their diets completely. They are converts to a high protein, low carbohydrate eating plan. The idea is to eat protein – chicken or fish – every two-and-a-half to three hours and cut out carbohydrates.
They have learned to judge when the feeling of being hungry is really because they are thirsty or bored.
On top of that they have had access to as many exercise classes at The Health Boutique as they would like to attend – most have gone along three or four times a week and enjoyed kettle bells, circuits, boxfit and bootcamp.
Rachael Berry, 45, from Framfield Road, said the exercising was hard to start with because she had never done any before, but she got used to it. And she had changed her eating habits completely. “I don’t do any picking now.”
Rachael added that she applied for the sparkle challenge because it is her 25th wedding anniversary next year and she wanted to feel fitter and thinner. “It has been a great experience and I will definitely keep on the programme.”
Laura Scott, who celebrates her 31st birthday today, is a single mum of two children. She wanted to lose weight but didn’t think she would have the time. “I was just using that as an excuse. I still don’t know where I have found the time but I have enjoyed the challenge and will continue coming to the gym.”
Lisa Lassman, 41, from Ridgewood, who works full time and has three children aged from three to eight said her life had changed completely.
Not only has she made the time to go along to The Health Boutique to learn about diet and to exercise but she has changed her approach to food now. She makes everything from scratch. Processed and packaged food is out.
She said: “I knew what to do but never got round to doing it. Being part of a team and supporting each other has helped.”
Two personal trainers who have guided the women through the challenge, Rod Howick and Mike Wilson, said the friendship they had seen develop among the women was a real bonus.
Rod said carbohydrates and sugars were the real culprits when it came to weight gain. Our bodies needed protein but most people didn’t need carbohydrates at the levels we eat them and those that weren’t used as energy was burned, were stored as fat.
He said athletes ate proteins until the night before a big event and then topped up on carbohydrates – pasta, pizza – to give them the energy they needed to compete. Afterwards they reverted to eating proteins.
Owner of The Health Boutique Hannah Howick said last night was all about celebrating what had been achieved by each of the women.
The final weigh-in was held, there was a mini-makeover by Boutique Beauty and a photo shoot to show the body transformation – all achieved with the help of the team at The Health Boutique using hypnosis, exercise classes, eating plans and friendly support from all those taking part.