A Belper slimming consultant is celebrating a decade since she completed her own weight-loss transformation, which opened doors to a whole new life.
Donna Curley, 41, is now a qualified Weight Watchers coach and fitness instructor, but 14 years ago she was on a very different path.
She said: “I was five-foot seven, 19-stone and size 24, and I was on a flight to Tenerife when the air hostess saw me struggling and asked if I wanted an extension for my seat belt. That was my light bulb moment.
“I’d wanted to lose weight so many times, but I’d made so many excuses to myself and say ‘not yet’. There was always a birthday coming up or something like that.”
Donna was gaining a stone and a half every year after falling into what she now sees as bad habits around her old work life.
She said: “I was very unfit, I never even wanted to go for a walk, let alone anything more active.
“I was working very long hours in the motor trade. There was not enough time to cook and enough money coming in that I didn’t have to, so I’d call in nearly every night for a takeaway.”
She added: “At work too, I’d have a bacon sandwich and crisps mid-morning, a cheese sandwich at lunch. It all added up.
“I was still very young, so it was a really unhealthy lifestyle I’d developed. I came to see that eventually, but I can still relate to so many overweight people out there.
“I would laugh it off, and people would be kind and say that I was just big and bubbly and it suited my personality - but I was really unhappy inside.”
As well as the light bulb moment onboard the plane, Donna got an added lift when she changed jobs and started working on reception in a health club.
She said: “That’s where I started to develop a love for the gym, and then I joined Weight Watchers.
“That combination helped me to see that it wasn’t just about changing my relationship with food, it was about building activity into my daily routine. I still love wine and cake, just not every day. I grill instead of fry, and eat lots of fruit and veg. I just make better choices now. I’ve learned so much about my habits.
“Even just walking helps, that’s what I tell my members now. It’s a lifestyle change, but not a strict one - you need to get a good balance.”
Over four years, Donna worked off seven and a half stone to reach her target of just over 11.
Among the many benefits, she says her confidence has grown, she sleeps better and no longer feels sluggish.
She added: “I feel so much younger than I did ten years ago, it’s fabulous and helps keep me on track.”
As a Weight Watchers coach, she says that following the programme and being weighed every week has helped keep her own motivation up but she has taken it much further.
Donna now teaches regular yoga, spinning and Zumba lessons at Belper Leisure Centre, as well as Weight Watchers sessions all over Amber Valley.
She said: “When they first asked me to become a coach, I didn’t imagine I could stand up in front of anyone else and help them.
“But I get such a great feeling out of helping other people achieve their own successes. I know how challenging it can be to deal with all those feelings, and all the daunting situations which can crop up.
“If I had one piece of advice to offer, it’s this: if you have an inkling to make a change, don’t think about it, just go out and do it. Be the best you can be. You deserve to look after yourself.”
To find out more about Donna’s weekly Weight Watchers sessions, call 07824 488976 or find her on Facebook at http://bit.ly/2hKFbv2.