Weightwatchers guru Bernie Walsh is celebrating 25 years service to the dieting group, a period during which she’s proud to have not just lost weight, but kept it off.
In her role as Weightwatchers leader in Lurgan Bernie has inspired many to lose weight, including an 86-year-old woman from the town who is relishing in the new lease of life the slimming group has given her.
Bernie (55) told her story: “I was always overweight and had tried every diet under the sun.
“They were all quick fix or crash diets, I would of course lose a bit of weight following them but as soon as I started to eat ‘normally’ again I would put all the weight back on and in most cases more.
“Although I was overweight I managed to meet a man who did not mind and to my delight he proposed to me.
“Well... I WAS NOT going to be a fat bride so of course what did I do? You guessed it... I went on a crash diet!
“This one was called the Scarsdale diet. I did lose a lot of weight and must admit looked rather good on my wedding day. However as soon as I settled into married life I was soon heavier than I had ever been.
“Everyone has what I would call a ‘last straw’ moment that makes them make the decision to lose weight.
“Mine came to me at a New Year’s Eve party. Firstly I had spent most of the evening before we left throwing clothes on the floor that I had tried on because they did not ‘feel right’.
“I ended up settling for the usual black tent dress.
“So you may guess... my mood was not the best when leaving for the party.
“While sitting at the table that evening one man made a comment in jest saying, “Bernie has got her man now... she doesn’t care what she looks like.”
What did I do or say? I joined in with the laughter of course. When I got home it was a different story. I cried my eyes out and vowed the next day I was going to start to lose weight.
“Once again stupidily I went on a ‘starvation diet’, but as usual I could not stick to it. A few days into the new year I was in the hairdressers and picked up the Lurgan Mail to read and there was an ad for Weightwatchers.
“Through Weightwatchers it took me eight months to lose five stone. I went from a stretched size 18 to a size 8. When I reached my goal I was asked to train to be a leader. I took on the challenge and have not looked back since. I celebrated 25 years of being a leader this year and to cap it all was voted NI Weightwatcher Leader of the Year.”
In the 12 weeks running up to Christmas, between them Bernie’s classes lost over 465 stone.
One of her prize assets is 86-year-old Linda Cust. She decided a few years ago that she needed to lose weight for her health. She decided along with her daughter to go to Weightwatchers.
Linda found the meetings very supportive and says she learned a lot about nutrition and which foods she should be eating.
“Staying to the meetings was the best thing I did,” she said.
“I made new friends and always felt very motivated after the talks, and we always had a laugh along the way. I lost just over four stone and still attend class. I find the discipline of being answerable to someone a great incentive to keep it off.”