Jennifer Ginley was so overweight that she told her boyfriend of 11 years not to propose to her, because she thought she was too heavy to go down the aisle and didn’t want to be a “fat bride“.
Jennifer, needing a seatbelt extender when travelling by plane, was so shocked when she looked back through her holiday photos that she decided she needed to make a huge change and finally get fit!
In the following 12 months, Jennifer lost “half her size” but became “double the person” after losing 126 pounds and dropping from a size 26 to a size 8.
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Jennifer weighed over 260 pounds at her heaviest, but recalls that her body weight wasn’t always this extreme.
“I’d been a fairly averaged-size child but I was a size 18 by the time I went to university in Manchester. Living away from home saw me gain even more weight and I was around five stone heavier when I graduated.”
Jennifer’s diet before consisted of chocolates, cafe food, fast food meals, unhealthy takeaways, processed food and sugary drinks.
“Before Slimming World I wouldn’t eat any breakfast or prepare any lunch or snacks for work, so I always found myself eating whatever I could lay my hands on, shop-bought sandwiches, packet noodles, chip shop meals”
“My sister and I used to bond over eating really unhealthily, we would go out for indulgent meals, have takeaways together and eat junk food almost as a hobby”
In 2015, Jennifer realised she needed to make a change after shopping for an upcoming family holiday to Florida.
“When I found myself buying size 26 clothes for the holiday I’d been looking forward to for so long, I knew something had to change.”
Another embarrassing moment was when Jennifer couldn’t buckle her seatbelt on the plane and couldn’t sit on the regular seats on the rides at DisneyLand.
“I had to ask for a seatbelt extender on the plane, I spent our time there having to ride on the adjusted seats for larger people and I was horrified when I saw the photos.”
“One picture of me with the Little Mermaid, my favourite Disney character, actually made me gasp. I saw myself in a whole new light, I looked so unhealthy that I cried, wondering how and why I had done that to myself.”
It all changed in May 2015.
Alongside her supportive mother and sister, Christine, Jennifer went to a Slimming World meeting and instantly knew it could finally help her with her diet struggles. Slimming World is a dieting approach that allows you to enjoy all foods in moderation and lets you make your own decisions on what you want to eat.
They also arrange local, weekly meeting groups were people on the diet can meet up and discuss their weeks and also weigh in as well, providing a supportive atmosphere but also a great form of accountability.
“We got such a warm welcome from everyone and I can honestly say that walking into that Slimming World group was without doubt the best thing I have ever done in my life.”
They advised swapping out the unhealthy fast food and takeaways for home cooked food, so Jennifer and Christine bonded over cooking healthy food in their house, rather than eating out in unhealthy place.
“We cook and enjoy Slimming World feasts together and instead of having takeaways up to four times a week, we’ll make a lovely chicken stir-fry or homemade bolognese.”
Jennifer Ginley’s Typical Diet Before:
Mid-morning: Crisps and chocolate
Lunch: Shop-bought sandwiches, greasy café food, chip shop meals or packet noodles
Mid-afternoon: Fresh cream cakes and biscuits
Dinner: Chinese takeaway or frozen pizzas and oven chips, fizzy drinks
Evening: More crisps, white toast with butter
Jennifer Ginley’s Typical Diet Now:
Breakfast: Porridge with lots of fresh fruit, baked oats with fruit or a Slimming World ‘fry’-up
Lunch: Homemade Slimming World-style crust-less quiche, homemade vegetable soup or a tuna sandwich in wholemeal bread
Mid-afternoon: Small bag of Cheetos crisps
Dinner: Chicken stir-fry, spaghetti bolognese, Diet cola chicken, Scouse (beef stew) or Pizza omelette with salad
Evening: Fresh fruit topped with quark, small chocolate bar
As well as getting her diet under control, Jennifer realised it was important to change her mental state and how she saw herself as well.
“Before I lost weight I had a massive lack of belief in myself and I feel like I wasted so many years with fake smiles that hid how unhappy I was. I was a serial failed-dieter and could never understand how I could achieve so much in other areas of my life, yet I couldn’t control what I ate. Finally taking control of my weight was such a huge turning point for me, both physically and mentally.”
Jennifer has a very popular Instagram page with over 120,000 followers, a page which she updates with incredibly informative posts as well as what she eats everyday, which she credits for helping her stay consistent with her eating.
“A really key part of my journey was keeping an online food diary so that I could chart my progress. From day one I posted my meals on my Instagram account and it really helped me to stay on track.”
After amazingly losing over half her bodyweight, Jennifer is now more than ready to be a bride.
‘My boyfriend Luke and I have been together for more than 11 years and I always used to discourage him from proposing because I couldn’t imagine myself as a bride being the size I was. I reached my target weight just over a year after joining Slimming World and just before Christmas, Luke asked me to marry him!”
“It was such an incredible feeling to be able to say ‘Yes!’ without even a second thought about my weight, and I can’t wait to go dress shopping.”
Another dream come true was when she was crowned Slimming World’s National Miss Slinky 2017 and asked to appear on the cover of their magazine, showcasing her incredible weight loss story.
“Imagine being obsessed with a magazine, vowing that one day you will grace its cover and you go on to do so. The elation I feel is indescribable. During my weight-loss journey, I’d visualise myself at target and on the cover of the magazine, inspiring other slimmers with my success.”