How Patsy and Penny got their sparkle back
January 24, 2013
Everywhere you look there is food.
Drive down the road and you’ll see a billboard with a fat, juicy burger super-sized on to it. Pop into the newsagents and you’ll be offered a half-price Toblerone with your magazine.
In today’s consumer-driven world food is big business and our eyes our constantly being bombarded with snacks.
And it looks like it might be having an impact on our waistlines, as more than 60 per cent of the British population is overweight or obese.
“It’s the environment we live in in the modern world,” says Penny Haslam, BBC presenter and Weight- Watchers ambassador. “You pop in a coffee shop for a drink and come out with a muffin as well and it’s 500 calories in just a snack.”
WeightWatchers has labelled the food-pushing world we live in a ‘toxic environment’ and is encouraging people to take a look at their unhealthy food habits.
Penny was prompted to look at her diet habits after watching herself presenting a TV programme and being shocked by her appearance.
“I presented a Panorama programme in 2010 and I struggled to find anything to wear,” she says. “We buy our own clothes for presenting and I was panicking in the shops, trying to work out what would look okay.
“I was a size 16 and I couldn’t find anything to fit. Sometimes you don’t make the connection between what is happening and what you should do about it.”
It was only when Penny saw herself on the programme that she decided to take action.
“When I saw myself on TV I thought, ‘gosh, you look old, and what is that chin doing?’ I didn’t look comfortable in my own skin.”
The experience prompted Penny to sign up to WeightWatchers’ online programme, and she lost a stone in six months. She was later approached to be an ambassador for the company.
Fellow ambassador and actress Patsy Kensit has a similar story, realising she needed to get in better shape after gaining weight several years ago.
Media outlets were quick to point out Patsy’s weight gain, but the Emmerdale actress says that wasn’t the motivation behind her weight loss.
“I’m not really in the entertainment world now so it wasn’t really pressure from that, but I think women put pressure on themselves whatever industry they’re in,” she says.
“I was 11-and-a-half stone at my heaviest and I’m 5ft 3ins. People might say that’s not so much, but with my height it was. I want to be the best I can for my kids and for me. It’s not for anyone else.”
Patsy signed up to WeightWatchers and lost 17lbs in a few months by following the ProPoints system, which gives points values to different foods.
Members have a certain number of points they can consume in the day, with guides to point out the most filling and healthy foods, and those with zero points like all fruits and vegetables.
As well as eating a healthy, balanced diet, exercise can help with weight loss and, with a little determination and willpower, it is possible to keep the toxic environment at bay.
Reading couple Andy Dearing, 56, and Hilary Dearing, 54, joined Weight-Watchers together around eight months ago.
Andy has lost 27lbs since signing up, and Hilary has lost 16lbs. This is their story.
Why did you decide to join Weight-Watchers? Andy: I was told by the doctor that I had to lose some weight. Hilary didn’t really need to but she thought she would come and support me.
How has it changed your lifestyle? Alan: “It’s all about the choices. We make more informed choices now when we go out. When we go out to dinner we’ll have steak and salad instead of steak and chips.”
Hilary: “We’re going out at the weekend and we have already looked at the menu and decided what we’re going to have. I think doing this has made us more active too. We do a lot more walking, and we pick holidays where we can go for walks.”
How do you cope with food cravings? Andy: “We tend to buy the WeightWatchers snack bars and sweets because they are smaller packets and they have the points on them so you know what they are when you buy them.
“If it’s not a WeightWatchers one we’ll go for the low fat supermarket range like Marks and Spencer Be Good to Yourself. Some of the stuff does not taste as good as others but you can shop around to find what you like.”
Can you still have treats? Hilary: “Yes, as long as you’re within your points, you can still have the treats. Instead of a fry up we’ll have a grill up, so we’ll still have bacon, tomatoes and sausages but instead of frying it we’ll grill it.”
Andy: “And we’ll have bacon medallions because there’s less fat, or we’ll cut the fat off.”
Do you think Reading is a toxic food environment? Andy: “Most of Reading is the same as any high street. The shops try to sell you chocolate with a book or newspaper. The shops that are opening here tend to be the tempting ones, like Patisserie Valerie or the Handmade Burger Co. It’s my birthday at the end of the month so we might go for a burger, but we will watch what we are eating.”
Has joining a programme had an impact on your health? Andy: “I still want to lose another stone and Hilary wants to lose five or six pounds. It’s a work in progress but I have been to the doctor and my cholesterol is down. Things are going in the right direction.”
For more information visit www.weightwatchers.co.uk