Maintaining a healthy weight can not only help reduce blood pressure, but also helps eligibility to give blood.
After shedding more than 5st, Emma Parkinson began to have a new perspective on life and changed her career to encourage people to be a blood donor.
The 30-year-old from Croston is now a donor carer for NHS Blood and Transplant, following her passion to spread the word about healthier choices.
It took Emma less than 12 months to lose 5st 4lb, taking her from 17st 3lb to 11st 13lb, with the help of Hoole Slimming World.
As a result, the mother-of-one was named Woman of the Year by the group.
She says: “I feel like a different woman to the one who walked into Slimming World 11 months ago and winning Woman of the Year is a real honour because there are so many amazing men and women in our group.
“I really hope my weight loss can inspire other people to get started on their own journey and know that there’s a whole group of people waiting to support them every step of the way.
“Since joining the group my confidence has soared. I married the love of my life Jim in February and felt amazing on my wedding day.
“In May I took the bold step changing career. I started training to be a donor carer for NHS Blood and Transplant. This was something I had always wanted to do, but losing the weight and my new found belief in myself gave me the courage and confidence to take the plunge.
“I’m so glad I did as giving blood is so very important, and I absolutely love my job. I’d love for as many people as possible to experience that new found health and confidence that I have.
“I never could have dreamt that I’d be in this position when I first began my weight loss journey.
“Losing weight has made such a big difference to me. My health is better, I have more energy, I’m happier and I feel more comfortable in my own skin.”
Emma, who has a three-year-old daughter, joined Slimming World after becoming increasingly unhappy with her size.
She started to put on weight on when she started a new relationship with her now husband Jim and the weight increased after having her daughter.
She adds: “I tried lots of different ways to lose weight but they usually left me feeling hungry or miserable. With Slimming World it’s completely different.
“I still eat many of the same meals that I did before I started losing weight, like pasta dishes, curries and hotpot.
“Now I just prepare and cook them differently – and they taste so much better. I never have to miss out and I don’t have to get hung up on weighing and measuring everything I eat. I’ve picked up lots of new healthy recipes from the other members at my Slimming World group, too.
“I plan my weekly meals and share them with the group, they love having a bit of inspiration about what gorgeous meals to make, and by everyone sharing their ideas I’m never short of new meals to try.”
Jo Stringfellow, who runs the Hoole group, says: “I’m so very proud of Emma. She’s a fantastic ambassador for Slimming World and what she’s achieved is nothing short of incredible.
“Each time she has hit her own personal goals, her belief in herself and her abilities has grown.
“Emma set her goals and achieved them week by week. She’s a huge inspiration to everyone in our group and I hope she inspires other women – and men – in Hoole and surrounding villages to change their lives in the same way.”
According to a report by National Statistics NHS, a quarter of women are overweight, where it risks impacting on their health by increasing their chances of developing a range of conditions including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Losing just 10 per cent of our body weight can significantly reduce the blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, improve asthma and reduce breathlessness, whilst at the same time improving mobility and joint problems, and lifting your mood and self esteem.
The NHS needs to maintain a regular supply of all blood groups and types to treat all types of conditions.
By giving blood, every donor helps meet the challenge of providing life-saving products whenever and wherever they are needed.
Some rare sub-types are more common in specific communities, which is why the NHS is always looking for more blood donors from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.
For more information about becoming a blood donor visit http://www.blood.co.uk
The Hoole Slimming World group is held every Saturday at 9am at Hoole Village Hall. To join or find out more call Jo on 07763647892.