Slim lines are tonic for pack family

When you look at the family photo of a mum and her two girls in the Spanish sun, you think they must be having a good time.

Slim lines are a tonic for Pack family

When you look at the family photo of a mum and her two girls in the Spanish sun, you think they must be having a good time. But the snap belies a truly sad moment. Karen Hindle finds out how this family has managed to smile again

“There's no getting away from it, it was my fault,” says Trish Pack a mum of two grown-up daughters.

“I let it happen.”

For Trish she has fond memories of growing up with meals round the family dining tables and her father coming home from work on a Friday night armed with treats for his children.

Trish took that same sentiment and was determined to have a similar ethos in her family.

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Only she went a little far. Her heart was in the right place but sweets, chocolates, crisps, dishes with rich sauces and calorie-packed puddings took their toll.

“I thought I was being a good Mum feeding them and making sure they never went hungry.

“As they got older that was how it was. I can't say it was in our genes or our metabolism, because that would not be true.

“We ate too much. It got out of hand.”

While husband and dad Steve showed concern for his daughters Jodie, now 20, and her sister Hollie, 18, Trish just made sure they grew up to be confident, articulate young women.

She certainly got half of that right with Hollie studying for her A Levels and Jodie doing a degree in radiotherapy and oncology, but after the family holiday in Spain in 2007 she set about putting the other half straight.

It took them 18 months to get to where they are now and the smiles and laughter round the table prove that Trish has succeeded.

With the help of the Woodbridge branch of Slimming World they have all succeeded in losing a combined total of 16 stone.

Trish is half the size she used to be losing six stone to take her from a size 32 to a size 16. Jodie has gone from a size 18 to an eight and Hollie dropped from a size 22 to a size 12.

All of them have a little way to go: Jodie wants to lose just six pounds to reach her target weight, while Trish and Hollie want to lose another three stone each.

But they know they can do it because they have made the lifestyle choice and they know there is no going back. No going back to the pained teenager who told her mum she could not smile in the holiday snap. She told her mum: “You can do what you want, but I will always be ugly.”

“That broke my heart,” remembers Trish.

“I had always tried to make sure my girls were confident and able to talk to anyone and I thought I had done that, but to hear your daughter say something like that is just heartbreaking.

“I knew it had been on Hollie's mind throughout the holiday. We had spent our time hiding under towels round the swimming pool and I had been worried about the seatbelt on the plane on the way home. I could hardly do it up and I knew I would put on a bit more weight on holiday - everybody does - and I just worried about how I would be.

“Hollie was worried. She was really low and a bust-up with a boyfriend didn't help.”

What followed was a family who pulled together to change their lives.

On their return to the UK they signed up with Slimming World, went through all their cupboards and threw away any offending foods.

They took a long hard look at themselves and discussed what they liked to eat. None of them were prepared to give up the finer things in life and good food was one of them.

They bought the Slimming World book and read it from cover to cover to find out where they had gone so wrong.

“We are all foodies really and there were things we didn't want to give up like curries and chilli,” said Trish.

Jodie adds: “Now we make them all differently. We used to use bought sauces in jars, but when you look at them and what is in them you realise that is where all the problems are.

“We are allowed 15 sins a day and when we looked at the directory of all these different foods it said the jars of sauce were 30!

“Now we grow our own herbs and have a spice rack. We use our own herbs and spices for all our dishes and everything is made from scratch. I do some of the cooking sometimes and we all really enjoy it.

“We still eat chocolate, but now it is dark chocolate Green & Black's ones like that. They are much better quality and you don't need as much. I still like a Curly Wurly but we put it in the freezer and it makes it harder to eat. You don't want to do it that often.”

Trish added: “It would never have worked if we could not find alternatives to what we like to eat, and that has really worked for us.”

All three women have found their taste buds have changed and they no longer crave the incredibly sweet things they once did.

Having said that you can go too far and salad would have been a step too far for this family.

“I don't like to use the word diet really,” says Trish. “People think that means you have to eat salad all the time. They say they have eaten salad for lunch and salad for dinner, but we hate salad. We don't eat salad, never did and we're not about to start now.”

Trish, Jodie and Hollie have found their way by adapting what they like to healthier options and under the Slimming World regime they know how many sins they are allowed to have and because of the intelligent way they have adapted the regime it works for them and therefore has sustainability.

It does mean they have to go on constant shopping sprees with Jodie currently benefiting most.

She said: “We sort of swapped clothes round really and lived on hand-me-downs. Some of our clothes would do to mum, hers to us and then we would have to go baggy for a while until we really had to get new clothes. At the moment Hollie's go to Mum.” “Except the mini skirts and cropped tops, Trish interjects.

It was a big moment for Hollie when she could fit into her sister's trousers as she knew she was winning the battle.

Trish said; “As a young girl Hollie would say she wanted to look like Jodie because she was so beautiful. It was a big moment. Hollie said: “It is great. The hardest thing is to stop yourself going out to buy new clothes all the time. When you are pleased with how you look you want to go and buy new things.”

It was not always like that for Hollie, who would shy away from shopping with friends.

“I used to buy smaller sizes so they didn't really know what my real size was. I didn't want anyone to know.”

Hollie dreaded gong to sixth form at Farlingaye High School because she would have to meet new people.

“I have a very close circle of friends and I didn't really want to meet anyone new.”

Trish added: You are alright within a tight circle of friends or the people you know. It is when you go out of that environment it is not pleasant.

“I used to go to dinners with my husband and I always thought everyone was looking at me and what I was eating and wondering what he was doing with me, because he is a good-looking chap and not overweight.

“If I was feeling like that it was worse for Jodie and Hollie.”

It is clear Hollie was feeling the worst, unable to smile, unable to take part in school shows, afraid of what people thought of her. All thoughts she kept to herself by and large.

But with the diet a success so far it is clear she is a bright, happy girl happy to wear figure-hugging clothes.

She said: “At the start I was losing between four and six pounds a week, now it is down to one or two, which is healthy.

“I think it has worked because we accepted something had to change and we were prepared to put in the effort. It won't work unless you do.

“It has certainly helped with us all doing it so if we have off days we can help each other get through it.”

Trish added: “When we signed up for this we had a big emotional conversation when I told them there would be times when we all got on each other's nerves, but that was how it would have to be. There would be days when I would have to ask them 'do you really need that bar of chocolate.'

“Slowly we have changed and now we don't mind not having so many sweet things. We have our treats and the best thing is we cook together and we are strong as a family.”

She added: “Now I know the guilt has gone for me. I have two daughters who are fit as fiddles and more than that they are truly happy. I can feel so much better that now I am still cooking for them and providing for them, but in a healthier way which does not make them unhappy.”

Jodie found it difficult during lectures about cancer and other serious illness when obesity was mentioned as a factor in all these things.

“We were all either morbidly obese or on the fringes of it and it was really hard during lectures. I thought everyone was looking at me. It was not very nice.”

Hollie is very insightful about her past and with hindsight realises she was desperately unhappy.

“I would make extra effort with my hair and face. They had to be perfect, but I was hoping it would detract from the rest of me. My body language was always to cover myself up. Now I am not like that any more.

There were times when they would sit at the bottom of a mountain and wait for Steve to come back down because they couldn't make it.

Now they have active holidays and exercise is a huge part of their lives.

There is no doubt these women will be on top of the mountain in more ways than one.

Are you watching your weight? What do you think of the Pack family? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to