WHEN surgery loomed for Tracy Green she knew the time had come to do something about her weight. She had in her own words "hit rock bottom".
The mother of three from Buckland Brewer was at crisis point. She wouldn't go swimming or play in the park with her children. She even refused to go through the turnstiles at a football stadium for fear of getting stuck. Her husband had started sleeping in the spare room as her snoring had become unbearable.
"At my heaviest I was embarrassed, ashamed and my self esteem was at an all time low," she said. "It wasn't until I saw myself in a shop window that I realised just how out of control my weight had become. When I was forced to buy size 28 trousers for work, I knew I had to take action."
As a GP practice manager, Tracy already knew she would meet the criteria for weight loss surgery. As a desperate last resort she decided to seek a referral from her GP.
"I was so worried that I was heading towards a stroke and my family would be left to look after me. The thought of that was devastating and made me take action. I am a very outgoing person but as the weight crept on I didn't want to visit friends or family. I was so ashamed that I wasn't in control of my life."
Before being able to have weight loss surgery Tracy knew she would need to lose some weight. She decided to join Slimming World for some help. The decision turned out to be one of the most important turning points in her life.
Tracy lost 10lb in her first two weeks by eating her favourite foods like curries, big breakfasts, jacket potatoes with tuna and heaps of salad. She then went on to lose 5.5 stone and win The Greatest Loser in her Slimming World group.
At the same time her pre-operative appointment arrived for the gastric bypass.
However, her new way of life was working so well she cancelled the appointment and decided to continue her journey with Slimming World. She also took up Zumba and joined the gym.
It was a decision she didn't regret.
Since joining Slimming World she has lost 7.5 stone. Her health has also improved hugely. Last summer she admits she would only be able to walk half a mile before her hips and back would ache. This year, she was absolutely thrilled to run the Race for Life in Barnstaple in 38 minutes. She has already set a target of under 30 minutes for next year.
"My life is totally different now," she said. "I am far more active, no longer borderline hypertensive. I have been told I look younger at 40 than I did at 30."
Tracy admits she used to detest exercise but now finds herself getting grumpy if she doesn't go to the gym or out for a walk.
"I feel so much more energised and I know I am much healthier to be around for my husband and three children. I recently went on the slide with my youngest which I wouldn't have dreamt of doing last year and I am looking forward to going through the football turnstiles again at some point."
The prospect of weight loss surgery was not one Tracy took lightly, yet taking the first steps to help herself led to a whole new way of life.
"I was just so desperate and couldn't stand the thought of reaching 40 in such an overweight state. I am so glad I joined Slimming World and kept going to the group every week, making new friends and getting lots of tips, recipes and support so that I didn't have to go down the operation route."
Tracy has been so inspired she has now made a career change to become a Slimming World consultant. She knows she will be able to empathise with people who feel they have tried everything to lose weight with no success.
"This was not my first time of joining Slimming World as I had never really given my full commitment to the plan or stayed with the group before. I have tried so many other diets over the years, usually losing a stone or two for it then to go back on and more. The Slimming World Plan is not a diet. It is a healthy lifestyle. The group support is absolutely amazing. You celebrate together and give support to group members."
Tracy not only won Slimming World's Greatest Loser but also Woman of The Year.
"I am still on my journey with another 2.5 stone to go to get to my target.
" I am 100 per cent confident that I will reach my target and maintain my weight loss by continuing to lead a healthy life. My years of yo yo dieting are well and truly over and this weight will never go back on."
She is now looking forward to helping others reach their weight-loss dreams by providing inspiration and support.
Tracy's Slimming World group meets at St George's School in Northam every Monday, starting on September 2, 7.30pm. Details: 07900 933347.