A mum has lost 17st in weight after she was told she couldn’t have weight loss surgery due to weighing too much.
Laura Cain, from Southport, has since been honored as one of the UK’s top three most inspirational Slimming World slimmers. The 34-year-old said she was “overwhelmed” to be honored in the 2022 Slimming World ‘Greatest Loser’ awards with a special invitation to the Slimming World HQ to congratulate her on her courage and determination.
Laura revealed how her life and her relationship with her nine-year-old son, Domanic, have been transformed by the dramatic changes in her life since she joined her local group in her home town of Southport. She encouraged other people who are thinking about making changes to their lives to take that first step and join Slimming World, saying she “wouldn’t be here right now” if she hadn’t joined.
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Laura feared she might not have long left to live after her weight shot up to 30 stone after a series of traumatic experiences. They included contracting swine flu – which saw her placed on life support – as well as succumbing to meningitis and suffering with brittle asthma and fibromyalgia.
Her grueling health battles and growing weight left her so poorly she was unable to take her son, Domanic, to school. She struggled to leave her house and felt trapped.
Today, 5ft 6ins Laura has turned her life around in dramatic fashion, after her son motivated her to sign up for Slimming World. She joined Slimming World Southport with Dee, led by Dee Wright, and has been spurred on by the constant support of Dee and the fellow ‘geese’ (members) in her group. She said the changes have allowed her to become “the mum I’ve always wanted to be.”
After reaching her target weight earlier this year, Laura was honored as being third in the competition for this year’s greatest Slimming World loser, with the top three contestants losing over 55 stone in weight between them. Laura said: “Going to the Slimming World head office was one of the best moments in my life.
“Meeting everyone, seeing where all the team are and seeing the amazing restaurant and of course trying the food was fantastic. I still feel very overwhelmed by my experience. I met so many amazing people.
“I spoke about my story and had so many compliments about my dress – the Slimming World dress I call it. I still can’t believe I’m third out of all the thousands of people who were the Greatest Losers in their groups for the Slimming World award this year.”
Laura joined her local group, Slimming World Southport with Dee, after a postcard from Dee dropped through her letterbox inviting her to stick with the group, saying her ‘geese’ – her fellow friends and Slimming World members – were there to support her. Laura said: “I definitely don’t think I would be here now if it wasn’t for Dee posting that famous postcard saying the Geese are always with me in December 2018.
“Dee and all her groups have stuck by me 100%. No one has ever once judged me. They have all been there for me 24/7. Being in that group, Slimming World Southport with Dee, each week is where the magic happens.”
The results for Laura and her son Dom have been enormous. She said: “I have gone from not being able to walk Dom to school to doing things with him like going into Liverpool to enjoy a day out and doing other fun things.
“I have started volunteering at a baby group and at Dom’s school and at a toddler group. I love it, meeting new people, and building my confidence.”
In December, Laura was voted as the group’s 2021 ‘Miss Slinky’ by members of her Slimming World group in Southport. She wants to share the story of her incredible journey to inspire other people to take that first step towards losing weight.
Laura said: “My life has changed so much mentally and physically but most of all I can now be the mum I’ve always wanted to be to my son, Dom. I can take him to fun places, and I can walk with him to his school dele, at Marshside Primary in Southport.
“My health still isn’t 100%. I still suffer with brittle asthma and fibromyalgia but at least I am not a ticking time bomb at 30 stone. Sun is amazing. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. He is the reason why I never gave up.
“I shared a face to face picture on Facebook recently, comparing an old picture with a new one. Even though I was smiling on the old one, it wasn’t a real smile because behind it I was hurting, embarrassed and in pain. I felt stuck.
“I’m so happy and proud now it’s so overwhelming, especially when people stop me in town. I can’t believe I have lost over 17 stone.”
The proud mum developed swine flu 11 years ago and was placed on a life support machine in a desperate bid to survive. She was so ill afterwards, she had to learn how to walk again. Three years later, in 2012, Laura contracted meningitis after giving birth to Domanic.
While fighting back from those traumatic episodes, brave Laura also had to live with brittle asthma, contend with fibromyalgia in 2008, and also developed a huge hernia. Laura said: “I have been overweight since high school. Then in 2008 I was diagnosed with brittle asthma and had been diagnosed with steroids ever since, which has affected my weight.
“I was one of these people who would join Slimming World, do it for a while then give up. I also tried Weight Watchers, and those awful shake diets. Over the last few years, I have struggled a lot with my health.
“I have been on a hell of a lot of medication for my asthma. I also had to use a walker with a seat, not just because I get out of breath, but because of the amount of pain I was in with my back, due to the weight of the hernia.”
Five years ago, Laura was referred by her asthma consultant to have weight loss surgery. He told her the operation would not be possible until she lost enough weight. She tried various ways of shifting the pounds, but was making little headway until 2017 when she began noticing inspiring posts appearing on Facebook by local Slimming World consultant Dee Wright.
Laura said: “Dee and I messaged each other a few times but the thought of going to a new Slimming World group scared me. I kept thinking I was going to get judged. But I knew one girl who was already a member at Dee’s group. She told me what a lovely group it was and how amazing Dee is, so that was it – I braved it. I got a taxi right to the front door and walked in to Dee welcoming me and giving me a huge hug.”
Laura, who went to school at Stanley High School in Southport, changed her diet completely. She used to eat lots of takeaways and enjoyed eating out, and indulged too much in things like bread, barm cakes, butter, and chocolate alongside her cups of tea.
Now she enjoys grape nuts or Weetabix for breakfast with yoghurt or semi-skimmed milk; tuna with salad or jacket potato for lunch; and then Slimming World curry or chilli for dinner.
Next cam her daunting surgery. Laura said: “I was so scared and nervous. I had never had surgery before.
“All I kept thinking was that I was doing this for my health and to be here to see my son grow up. If it wasn’t for Dom, I wouldn’t be here.
“Every morning I woke up and I kept saying ‘I have to get up, I can’t give up, because I’m doing this for Domanic’. So I had surgery. I had a gastric sleeve which basically meant they removed two thirds of my stomach. It has made my stomach smaller so I can’t eat as much.
“I could still eat badly if I wanted to, but I don’t. I stick to food optimizing with Slimming World. I attend a group every week for the love and support and amazing tips I get there. I want to say to anyone who is out there struggling with their weight please, please join a Slimming World group like Dee’s because the benefits you will get are amazing.”
Doctors have played a huge part in supporting Laura on her journey. A gastric sleeve operation three years ago really helped her, and her determination her has seen her eating ‘on plan’ with Slimming World ever since.
Last year she finally went in for her long-awaited hernia operation. Laura said: “My hernia operation went amazingly well. The operation took around four hours and I was in hospital for a week.
“The doctors removed just over 7lbs of skin too. It was painful but it was so worth it. I now feel more confident when out and about.”
Laura’s journey to lose over 17 stone has taken huge courage and determination, over many months. Nothing deterred her from her ambition to lose weight, not even lockdown.
At her home in Southport she now has a wall full of Slimming World certificates proudly displaying all her stone and half stone losses, her Slimmer of the Week triumphs, her Woman of the Year accolades, and many more. It is a shrine to what can be achieved, and Laura is now eager to share her story to try and inspire others to believe-you can do it.
Laura said: “It is five years since I first joined Dee Wright, at Slimming World. I was there for a bit then gave up. I then rejoined in 2019 after Dee posted me a card to say the ‘geese’ (fellow Slimming World members) are with me.
“I know I have had weight loss surgery, but I stuck to the Slimming World plan, with smaller portions. For anyone who might be thinking about joining but who is too scared to, I would say don’t – because it’s life changing for anyone who walks through the doors of Slimming World.
“I couldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for Dee and her groups. Like we always say, we’re ‘a flock of geese’ and we honk each other on.”
Laura has seen huge changes to her diet, thanks to all the help and advice from Slimming World and from Dee. Laura said: “Four years ago I would eat so much bread and butter, crisps, etc.
“I was emotional eating, stress eating. I would eat out, but never chose to eat any of the healthy stuff. Now I stick to the Slimming World plan. Even when I am eating out, I plan what I can have
“I’m definitely able to do so many more things, especially with Dom. I have been enjoying seeing friends more, enjoying times I have been out, and not being in hiding anymore.”
Laura’s Slimming World consultant, Dee Wright, lost six stone herself before taking on her role, so has been able to support Laura with her challenge every step of the way. Dee said: “To be third place nationally in the competition is just incredible – Laura is such an inspiration.
“Gastric surgery reduces the appetite but doesn’t give the psychological support to change habits that are often deep rooted, mindset and changing the way we think about food and ourselves is key.
“Our amazing eating plan means the appetite can be satisfied whilst a member loses weight, our body magic plan encourages members to move more but at their own pace and the magic part of it all is our weekly group, that’s where we share ideas and inspiration and members think about the changes they want to make for the week ahead!
“Research has shown that our food optimizing plan is more effective than calorie counting and that it is possible to reduce your calorie intake by eating a larger amount of low energy dense foods to help our members lose weight. Food optimizing is life changing, it’s based on science, backed by evidence and loved by millions.”
Scott Hawkins, Slimming World Merseyside district manager, said: “Our Slimming World Merseyside district is incredibly proud of Laura and her life changing and life saving weight loss. The support she has received from her group and Consultant Dee Wright has been invaluable to her achievements.
“If you’re reading Laura’s story and feel you’d like support on your own weight loss journey, please get in touch with your local Slimming World consultant today.”