Angela is a business consultant by day working in business development for OEE Consulting, a mum to two children and two stepchildren and amazingly (the biggest inspirational bit) the creator of A Big Girl’s Journey to Lean. A seemingly unexpected and accidental success in building a community to support people on their weight loss journey as a result of going through it herself.
When I asked Angela how this had all come about she told me that she’d been ‘big forever’, couldn’t wear normal clothes to school and had a very poor relationship with food. She told me how she was going through all manner of unhealthy practices to try and sort herself out over years and years. Listening to what Angela said reminded me of a short time in my life when I got this point. For it to have gone on for so many years meant that she became this constant cycle, it was what she did and was part of her life. She said she was always dieting, losing weight and then regaining it. Many of us are familiar with that at some point in our lives.
In 2014 Angela said she was at her heaviest, weighing 19.5 stone and, as she had before, started another one of her diet regimes. She used both the Cambridge Diet and the 5:2 diet and she lost about 3 stone getting to 16 stone in January 2016. (Flashback! I did the Cambridge Diet in 1987, I instantly gagged at the memory of the lumpy powder mix I used to drink then when she told me she’d done it too!)
Around this time someone introduced her to the Body Coach (Joe Wicks) system and she started to incorporate exercise into her regime.
I asked Angela at this point if she’d not done exercise before as part of her previous attempts and she told me she’d avoided it as she was too big, got too sweaty and felt too uncomfortable. She saw that Joe Wicks was talking about HIIT workouts (High Intensity Interval Training — just as we do at Fit Camp) and employed a personal trainer to help her.
She started to use the Body Coach meal plans and found she loved it! She was eating more than before and losing weight (there’s nothing like cleaning up your diet to realise how much you can eat!) and doing interval training on a rowing machine. Starting with 30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest and feeling exhausted but loving how it made her feel.
I hear this a lot with our clients too. The thought of having to workout for 30 seconds seems easy, but when you repeatedly do it for 10, 20 or 30 repetitions it’s exhausting, but the way you feel at the end is great! Angela got the buzz and at the end of the first month lost 10lbs, ‘loads of inches’ and a dress size.
The Accountability Effect
At the same time Angela had joined a Facebook group and was posting each day as she exercised, posted her meal choices and kept herself accountable. She found this useful and used it to gain inspiration from others and share her story too.
It was shortly after this that one of the other members directly messaged Angela and suggested she start her own Facebook group. This lady liked what Angela posted each day, but found it hard to follow her amongst all the other stories and posts.
Angela said she had the thought ‘who wants to know what I’m doing?’ and dismissed the idea as she was already working in her career and doing her own thing for her health. However one day, before getting up and out of bed, she set up the group and with an hour or so had 100 members and by the end of the day 1000 who followed her from the other page!
She posted daily, offered exercise suggestions and built a rhythm into what she did so she could share it with her new audience. With the help of her personal trainer they devised home workouts for people to do, things for people to focus on and, following along the Body Coach principals, mobilised masses of people to activity.
Where Are You Now?
Since it started last year Angela’s page now has just shy of 21,000 members! She has a YouTube Channel and 12 volunteers to help her run this accidental support group alongside her day job. It’s a mammoth return from a simple message about setting up her own group last year. She is at her target weight (an inspiring 8.5 stone loss) and now focused on helping her community.
So I asked Angela what next? She has a job she really loves, but this community is large and growing and she wants to use the power of it to make some changes. She has a strong point of view on the education of food, health and nutrition for children and she said that the messaging coming out of her own local schools is still way out of date and untrue. We are still seeing a really poor understanding of what is good nutrition and health which merely perpetuates the problem that we see in the population with obesity, higher calorie foods with low nutritional value and no consistent advice on what to do to get healthy.
We spoke about the instant effect of regular exercise on children and the impact the Daily Mile has on school children. It’s a programme to keep primary and junior school children active by running a mile each day. This one activity has been shown to instantly reduce anxiety, improve concentration and behaviour in children, with the added long term benefit of improved fitness and weight loss.
Imagine if this could be combined with an improved education around healthy eating and cooking, we’d save the country a stash of money in years to come.
The finals night
We talked outfits (well we had to really!) and both of us are still unsure what we’re wearing, but I am pretty convinced you’ll see Angela in a dress and me in … well, you’ll have to wait and see!
I really enjoyed speaking with Angela, she’s down to earth, principled and inspired by her community who are equally inspired by her. It was a pleasure to talk with her and I look forward to finally meeting her on the finals night.
The finals are on Friday 9 June at Madejski Conference Centre Reading where the winners will be announced. The award for Inspirational Woman has been sponsored by the University of Reading who have challenged us all the way during this process to think beyond winning an award, but what it means for our business and our future plans. All three of us are grateful for that.