It should have been a joyous day – but Raeleen was left feeling so self-conscious about her vastly expanded waistline that she couldn’t welcome her soldier husband home with open arms at the airport.
‘Instead of throwing my arms around him and being excited to see him, I felt self-conscious, embarrassed and humiliated at how much I’d let myself go,’ says Raeleen.
For the mother-of-two, it was the turning point. She knew she had to lose weight to regain her dignity and sparkle.
‘Embarrassed’: Raeleen, left, had put on four stone during her husband’s time away. She is now feeling more confident, right
She added: ‘Growing up, I led an active lifestyle and my weight was never an issue. As I reached my adult years and married my husband, John, our family grew, with two gorgeous boys and, consequently, so did my waistline. My husband was in the military, which meant we had to spend time apart. At one stage we were separated for two years.
Raeleen’s vital statistics
Height: 5ft 6ins
Was: 15st 10lbs
Lost: 4st 5lbs
Weighs: 11st 5lbs
‘Being a full-time working mum, I’d try to squeeze everything into the day. By the evening I’d be too tired to cook, so we’d grab takeaway and weekends were filled with running after the boys and cleaning the house. By Sunday all I had time for was a cat nap. I’d sit down to massive meals as they were comforting at the time.’
With her self-worth at an all-time low, she joined Weight Watchers Online in April 2007.
She says: ‘It provided me the flexibility to fit the programme into my busy lifestyle. I had the satisfaction of being in control of when I logged on.
‘My favourite online feature was Weight Tracker – it let me visually view my progress. I loved seeing the graph with the line going down!’
And, as with any diet, the key factor in sticking to it is the support of others. That’s why Raeleen found Weight Watchers’ message boards so useful.
Confident: Raeleen is much happier with her shape now
‘Message Boards are a great place to share experiences, be inspired and gain invaluable knowledge from other like-minded individuals also losing weight,’ she says.
Now Raeleen has lost more than 4 stone – and she’s never felt better.
‘Doing a photo shoot with Weight Watchers to celebrate reaching Goal was a lot of fun, but much harder than it looks! It was great to look as beautiful as I felt.’
And with such easy to follow recipes, she’s confident she’ll never feel as low as she did at the airport.
‘Recipes are healthy, delicious and economic and you’ll often find me with my laptop on the kitchen bench, browsing through the recipe finder for something to cook for the family,’ she enthuses.
John has since retired from the military so Raeleen gets to spend much more time with him and they often go for power walks together – another way to keep those pounds off.
She says: ‘John has always supported me no matter my weight, but now I’ve regained my dignity, which has transferred to every element of my life. I have get up and go, I’m a better role model to my sons and I’m a more loving, supportive wife with plenty of sparkle.’