GRIEF made our Woman of the Year winner, Rachael Walkingshaw-McGuinness’s weight spiral out of control as she comfort ate through the loss of her beloved mum.
And when she had her baby daughter, Poppy, in Lockdown 1.0, Northern Irish-born Rachael sank into post-natal depression, which led to more weight gain.
It was only when Rachael’s husband, Jamie, caught COVID-19 last year that she had a Eureka moment, which led to her losing more than seven-and-a-half stone with The 1:1 Diet by Cambridge Weight Plan.
“I realised that if I were to become ill as well, Poppy could be become an orphan,” said Rachael, 30. “It was the hardest week of my life, even worse than losing my mum. It broke my heart to think I may leave my daughter and I knew in that instant I needed to lose weight.”
Rachael is the eldest of four and was only 17 when her mum became seriously ill after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.
“Me and my mum were really close,” she said. “As the eldest, I became a caretaker for her as well.”
Rachael’s mum sadly died in January 2018 and, distraught, she turned to food for comfort.
“I ate to cope with my emotions. I didn’t think I had any health issues because of my weight but I had very painful joints. It hurt a lot to walk and when I became pregnant with my daughter, I put it down to that. I shooed the idea away of it being me being too big, even though I knew sitting down and being out of breath just talking wasn’t good.”
Rachael had moved to Wales to be with her husband, Jamie. They were looking forward to the birth of their first baby, Poppy, when the pandemic hit. She had to give birth alone in hospital as restrictions meant Jamie couldn’t be present.
And when she brought Poppy home, the lockdown meant Rachael couldn’t show off her new baby to the rest of her family.
“It was so tough. Everyone says you need a village to raise a baby and when you can’t have your nearest and dearest with you to walk you through those early days, it is really challenging. I was lonely and depressed,” she admitted.
“All my siblings and dad live in England, but most of our family are in Northern Ireland. We had different restrictions in each country. Before it would be nothing to jump in the car and drive to see them, but suddenly it felt like a big brick wall between us and we felt even more restricted.”
Things got even worse when Poppy was nine months old and Jamie, 35, caught COVID-19.
“He is on quite strong medication and was shielding. He tested positive and wasn’t well at all,” recalled Rachael. “I remember going to bed thinking ‘I’m going to become a single mum or we are both going to get it and I’ll leave Poppy alone’.
“We are young and should be living each day as it comes, not because you think each day could be your last.”
Last December, Rachael reached out to an amazing Consultant, who she followed on Instagram, for help.
“One night, the day before Christmas Eve, I said ‘please, please help me’. I could have waited for the new year but knew it had to happen that instant.
“She contacted me within the hour to look at getting set up after Christmas.”
Rachael said The 1:1 Diet has changed her life beyond comprehensive.
“The core of Rachael is still here but what has been built around that is incredible to me.”
And she has documented her weight loss on Instagram, amassing more than 8,500 followers.
“I did it as a way to be accountable. Look at going on Plan as a gift you’re giving to yourself. Instagram has been good to look back and see what I did.”
She has also inspired Jamie to go on Plan and he’s lost two-and-a-half stone so far.
As well as making Jamie and Poppy, now 17 months, proud, Rachael knows her late mum would be very pleased at her weight loss.
“If my mum could see me before I started Plan and as a mum to Poppy she would’ve felt quite sad and hopeless. She would’ve been heartbroken for me. Now I play with Poppy in the park, run around with her and not just sit on the bench because I am tired. I think it would make my mum really, really proud.”
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