Over the past 22 months, Audrey Howell has been on the most amazing journey, and lost eight stone after making the decision to become fit, healthy and slimmer.
Audrey, who works as an IT Desktop Engineer and grew up in the Wesleyan Holiness Church in her hometown of Bristol, had been overweight for most of her life. Her decision to lose weight has been one of her best ever, and has opened new doors for her.
Such is the impact of her weight loss that, at the end of 2012 Audrey, 45, was awarded the title of the Rosemary Conley Slimmer of the Year in Bristol.
Audrey shared her story with Keep The Faith, and shared details about her weight loss journey; how faith in God helped her achieve her goal, and her plans for 2013.
Keep The Faith (KTF): Congratulations on your amazing weight loss. What inspired you to embark on your weight loss journey?
AUDREY HOWELL (AH): I had been big for most of my life, and approximately 13 years ago I lost over six stone through the diet club, Slimming World, as I tried to break the cycle of gaining weight each year. After reaching my goal, and through sheer ignorance, I reverted and ate what I did prior to dieting, and the weight piled back on again with a vengeance. I ended up gaining an extra two stone. One day, I just decided enough was enough. I wanted to make a lifetime change. With tears in my eyes, I asked God to help me because I knew it would not be easy this time around. Both of my parents have now gone home to glory, but both suffered from type 2 diabetes. The thought of getting diabetes really scared me into taking action.
KTF: When did you start on your journey; what was your starting weight, and what is your current weight?
AH: My weight loss journey began on March 21st 2011. My starting weight was 20st 7lbs; my current weight is 12st 10lbs. I had set a goal of 7 stone 7lbs, which I reached on 3rd September 2012.
KTF: You were crowned Rosemary Conley Slimmer of the Year in Bristol in December. How did you feel about getting that Award?
AH: I’m overjoyed, and feel proud that I can let others see that big things can be achieved when you are willing to work hard for it. It really felt like it was a big award ceremony, as everyone was cheering and taking lots of pictures. It brought tears to my eyes. I am so glad people are being inspired into trying to lose weight themselves, as this is what I believe God would have me do, and that is to share my story with others. I have now turned my Facebook page into a weight loss blog, and try to encourage people. It’s working, as many have written to me from the UK and abroad, sharing their weight struggles, and have told me how much my blog has helped them. Some have started diets, joined gyms, and have just opted for a new healthy lifestyle. I pray God will continue to use me to INSPIRE.
KTF: What kind of fitness routine did you incorporate into your life in order to help you on your journey?
AH: My big brother Howard and I decided to get fit, and I thought, as I was losing a large amount of weight, I would embark on an exercise regime to limit being left with a lot of loose skin. We first started by visiting the gym a couple of times a week. Then we signed up to one month at an outdoor boot camp… it was gruelling. I also attend a weekly Zumba class and, since July 2012, I started to attend Kickboxing for fitness. I still have a long way to go, but I am determined to keep this regime going.
KTF: How easy/difficult was it to lose that weight?
AH: I recall feeling a little distressed when I first joined Rosemary Conley Slimming Club, as for the first two weeks of this diet you’re limited to consuming 1200 calories each day. For someone who had eaten what they pleased for many years, this was a complete shock to my system. It was a good thing I lived on my own, as I also had mood swings due to feeling deprived of sugary things. The calories were increased as I progressed through the diet. I craved fatty things like snacks, cakes, chocolate and crisps, which were (and still are) my favourite things, but now I tend to select things that are much lower in calorie and fat, etc. I set up a free account with My Fitness Pal (which is an online diet club); this I have used to track my weight loss, calories and diet and also exercise on a daily basis. I have built up a network of friends through this site, who live in different countries around the world. As the weight started to fall off, my willpower increased greatly and, when sitting with my colleagues who many times were eating junk, I was able to say No to it. I also devised a little reward system that, if I lost weight at my slimming club on a Monday evening after weigh-in, I would purchase one single cake or a small chocolate bar as a treat.
KTF: How did your faith help you in your weight loss journey?
AH: My faith as played a big part and, each time I lost a pound, I would go into my car on the drive home and give God thanks, because I know it was Him who was driving me to succeed. Faith without works is dead. I owe this success to God. In the times when I felt low and started to doubt if I could achieve this, He pushed me up to the next level. Even when I thought I was not ready to climb, He showed me that He would be with me every step of the way. My only wish was that my mum was alive to see me now, as this was one of her wishes for me as she was concerned about my weight and my health.
KTF: What role does faith play in your life?
AH: My faith is a big part of my life. I walk by faith, and believe God is carrying me through this life, and know His angels encamp around me. It gives me great joy when people say I remind them of my mother. If I can be half the woman she was then I will be happy. I want to continue to encourage those who do not know God to TRY CHRIST, as there is no other way to have eternal life.
KTF: There are many people in the Black community who are grossly overweight. What advice would you give to people who want to lose weight, but don’t know how?
- Find healthy alternatives to the fried foods
- Cut down on salt and sugar, etc
- Portion control (invest in smaller plates)
- Exercise regularly
- Find someone to be accountable to (a diet buddy), so that they can help if you struggle making healthy food choices
- Keep track as you lose weight; when no help is at hand, you need to be able to encourage yourself, too
- Do what works for you; remember, it is YOUR RACE – this is not a competition with anyone else but yourself
- Find a support mechanism, be it your family, friends, GP, Slimming Club
- Ask God to help you
KTF: Now that you’ve lost all that weight, how are you keeping it off?
AH: I continue with my exercise regime of Kickboxing, I’ve recently started Core Training, and I am also attending regular Zumba classes. I no longer attend Rosemary Conley on a weekly basis, but attend once a month to keep a check on my weight. I still input all my food intake and exercise into My Fitness Pal on a daily basis. This is working for me right now.
KTF: And what new goal(s) have you set for yourself in 2013?
AH: I want to maintain my weight loss, and up my fitness to the next level by training hard. I want to set up some sort of official weight loss blog, as many have encouraged me to do something, and some have suggested me setting up a slimming club business, but we shall see where the Lord leads on this, as I know He is the one who can open doors if He sees fit to do so. He holds my future is His hands.
You can connect with Audrey Howell at www.facebook.com/audrey.howell.50