Back in January, Michelle Ward was the winner of an Examiner competition for a year’s free membership of the Cedar Court Hotel gym. Nominated by her husband Francis, she was determined to tackle her serious weight problem and has been working out ever since. So how is she doing? Hilarie Stelfox caught up with her at a training session
MUM Michelle Ward has tackled her weight problem head-on – and saved her family a fortune.
For not only has she started visiting the gym since winning an Examiner competition, Michelle and her family have sliced their food bill in half by dramatically reducing their portion sizes and are now £400 a month better off.
As a working mum and carer for her husband, Francis, who has spina bifida, Michelle used to say that she didn’t have time to look after herself.
But by the end of last year the 40-year-old nurse, who weighed over 18 stones, knew that she was putting her health at risk.
She made a resolution to lose weight and embarked on a diet.
Then 41-year-old Francis saw an Examiner competition offering the winner the chance to work out for a year in the gym at the Cedar Court Hotel at Ainley Top.
It seemed like the perfect fit for Michelle as the family lives in Birchencliffe close to the hotel.
When nominating his wife, Francis said: “Michelle does a great job supporting me but I feel she needs some support to lose weight herself.”
And so the mother-of-two, who is a senior training officer for the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust, began visiting the gym on a regular basis.
“I found it hard at first,” says Michelle, who weighed in at 18 stones 2lbs on January 1. “I’d never been in a gym in my life before. I was exhausted.”
But senior instructor John Rathwell, who has been personally training Michelle, says he has been impressed by her dedication and motivation.
He said: “Michelle actually had a good base level of fitness because she is quite active so we have had to keep changing the training programme to challenge her.
“She was willing to try anything we asked of her and it was good to see her still smiling even when she was aching afterwards.’’
In the first three months of gym training and following a nutritional programme, Michelle lost 9kgs (1st 6lbs) and improved her Body Mass Index from over 38 (morbidly obese) to 34.9 (obese).
Although Francis has restricted mobility and therefore finds it difficult to exercise he has also lost around one stone in weight. The family is enrolled on the Kirklees Weight Management Service programme and sees a dietician on a monthly basis.
A welcome side effect of their new lifestyle is that the Wards now spend much less on food.
“For us it was never a question of not eating healthily, it was about portion sizes,” says Michelle.
“Francis and me are now having 1,500 calories a day and our portion sizes are down to a quarter of what they were. We have three meals a day and there’s no nibbling in between.
“Our weekly food bill has halved from £200 to £100.”
Michelle is also pleased that their two daughters, Chloe, 13, and eight-year-old Kaitlyn – neither of whom has a weight problem – are learning sensible dietary guidelines.