Hebburn grandma’s incredible transformation from 22-stone health sufferer to tree-swinging 'adrenaline junkie' after shedding 12 stone in 18 months - here's how she did it
A 22-stone grandmother who shed more than half her body weight in an incredible transformation from suffering chronic health problems to thrill-seeking adrenaline junkie has opened up on her experiences.
At her heaviest, Alison Berry, 63, from Hebburn, weighed in at 22 stone and was heavily dependent on medication, suffering from diverticulitis, a debilitating condition that was causing her to go to the toilet up to 40 times a day.
The former dinner lady and proud grandmother had been overweight for her whole adult life, and said she was in denial that she had plenty of time to become healthier.
She would eat chocolate for breakfast and was once asked was once asked to leave a fairground ride for safety reasons.
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But that all changed after she suffered a bad flare up of her condition, which resulted in her being gravely ill in hospital.
Thankfully she survived, which she described as a massive wake up call.
Realising that time was running out, Alison has since transformed herself into someone who now ‘seeks adrenaline round every corner’.
‘I would cry myself to sleep’
Reflecting on her journey so far, Alison explained how her decision to finally shed the weight came after her daughter gave birth to her first grandson, Joseph.
“I cried myself to sleep often worrying that my life would be cut short by my medical condition and weight - then my daughter in-law gave birth to my first adorable grandson Joseph,” she said.
"My daughter in-law and son asked if I would look after him for two days a week when she returned to work, and it was all I wanted to do.
“I wanted to be the best nana ever who could take her grandchildren everywhere, play on the floor with them, take them swimming, climb inside their pop-up tents and chase them round the garden – the reality is that I couldn’t even cut my own toenails, and I certainly couldn’t fit inside the tents.”
Alison said something had to change, and quickly, and having tried ‘every diet under the sun to no avail’, she joined Slimming World and started using products from The Skinny Food Co to stay within the lines of her new, diet plan, which she described as liberating.
“Not once have I felt like I’m on a diet,” she said.
"I incorporated The Skinny Food Co into my recipes, meaning I never missed out on my favourite dishes without adding many calories.
"I love creating homemade foods and use The Skinny Food and Fakeaway sauces almost daily.
"I use the Skinny Food Co syrups (the Maple and Golden Syrup being my favourite) over some pancakes to satisfy my sweet-tooth cravings in the morning, and use their low-calorie sauces over healthy dinners in the evening.
"I still love my homemade burgers, but now I cover them in the Skinny Food Co’s low-calorie burger sauce - it’s all about making healthy substitutions”.
“I don’t just have a sweet tooth, I have a mouth filled with sweet teeth – it was a real problem.
"I used to have a ‘full-fat’ can of coke with a handful of chocolate bars for breakfast and would graze all day at work.
The combination of a Slimming World diet and the Skinny Food Co’s low-calorie products has changed my life”.
“I went on to lose 11st.7lb in 18 months following my healthy food plan and a simple walking routine, and I'm now medication free.”
‘Leave that old, sad life behind and take the plunge’
Since then, Alison describes herself as an ‘adrenaline junkie’ trying to make up for lost time, and making the most out of every single day.
It is a whole new world compared to her previous life of ‘fat jokes’ and difficult moments.
“I was once asked to step off a fairground ride because I was too big to fit inside the safety strap,” she said.
"Since then, I’ve been on the world’s fastest zip-line, fire walks, completed a tree-top assault course, and I’m absolutely desperate to do a wing-walk. Life is good now I’ve lost my weight’.
Now Alison wants to help others with their own weight-loss journeys, sharing her tips for those wanting to kick-start their own transformation stories.
She has this message for anyone starting out. She said: “Don’t wait a minute longer – your new life is waiting for you, no matter your age or circumstance.
"I won't say losing weight was easy, but with determination it sure is worth it.
“Leave that old, sad life behind and take the plunge.
"Take each day as it comes and enjoy the process. I used to be afraid of walking to the shop in case people laughed at me, now I walk with my head held high with a big smile on my face - and you can too”.
Reflecting on her new-found zest for life, she said: “I used to hide in the background and make fat-jokes about myself, trying to beat others to the punchline - now I live life with a big smile on my face and enjoy every minute.
"I can’t wait to watch my grandchildren grow up and be a huge part of both of their lives”.
Alison said she strongly recommended The Skinny Food Co, which was set up when founders James Whiting and Wayne Starkey noticed people close to them missing out on food they enjoyed for the sake of their health.
There aim was to create low-calorie, low-sugar products designed to help people lead a healthier lifestyle without sacrificing taste, to ‘create a world where people with dietary restrictions are still able to enjoy the taste of healthy food’.