For two women, attending Slimming Word classes has not just been transformative in terms of losing weight and changing their lifestyles, it has also been a platform for forging new friendships.
Caroline Hodgen (37), a mum of two young children from Portadown, has become firm friends with Lurgan woman Claire Hall, with the pair initially offering support to each other via Facebook and now meeting up whenever their work and family demands allow it.
They have also gained a wide circle of other friends, all of whom offer each other support on the Portadown Rugby Club branch’s Facebook site.
Caroline, who lives in Ormonde Street, has lost three stone since joining the group in January, while Claire achieved a certificate this week, marking her five stone loss.
Said Caroline, “We are more like a wee family than a slimming group. I had never met Claire in person before, but the night I was due to hit my target weight she came all the way from Lurgan, even though she had been over earlier that day, with a wee card of congratulations already written out for me.
“I felt like crying because she believed in me so much. I would class her as a brilliant friend.”
Caroline joined the Portadown group in January, when her son Harry was just five weeks old, She said, “Even though I have hit my target, it’s hard maintaining that. It’s not just a diet, it’s away of life. I love exercising now. I go out for walks with Slimming World friends and have joined the gym.”
Claire (30), who has slimmed down from a size 22 to 14, says she is delighted at being able to find fashionable and younger clothes. She also says her health has benefitted and she rarely has to use her inhaler for asthma.
Despite facing temptation on a daily basis - Claire works in Centra Magheralin where she makes the breakfasts - she says she will never go back to her old ways. “I walk and have even taken up running, whereas before I would have been lying on the sofa eating. Joanne and I are very similar in our eating patterns. We both like our wee binges and would have eaten for comfort.”