Old Catton woman’s amazing slimming success

An Old Catton woman who was struggling to walk because of her multiple sclerosis has told how losing five-and-a-half stone has given her a new lease of life.

When Jennie Leon joined the Slimming World group in Thorpe Hamlet in January 2010, she was only just able to walk with a couple of sticks and it was looking likely she would end up in a wheelchair.

Just over a year later, Mrs Leon is a regular runner and gym-goer, and recently cycled 37 miles.

The mum-of-three says her MS nurse has told her by losing so much weight, being positive, less stressed, more confident and exercising regularly it has made her condition so much more manageable. Mrs Leon, from Gayton Walk, has also been able to reduce the drugs she takes, and has come off the anti-depressants she had been on since being diagnosed with the disabling neurological condition five years ago.

And she cannot wait to see the look on her brother's face when she visits him in Australia this month – the last time her saw her in 2009 she was a size 22 and now she will be arriving in Oz a svelte size 12.

The 49-year-old said: 'The reason I joined the group was being so ill with MS. In October 2009 I went to a family meeting and my brother had flown over from Australia. I was so embarrassed and felt uncomfortable because I had put on so much weight. I then saw a couple of photos of myself and knew I had to do something about it.

'I could hardly walk and it was getting the stage of me needing a wheelchair. I was really struggling because when I have an attack of MS it really affects my legs.'

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Once she had lost two and half stone, Mrs Leon, who is a civil servant, went along to Riverside Leisure Centre, where a helpful member of staff whose mother had MS helped to devise a special exercise programme for her. At first she could only exercise by moving one leg a few inches away from the other, lying on the floor, as well as taking part in the disability swim sessions.

Now Mrs Leon, who has dropped from more than 17 stone to 11-and-a-half stone goes to the gym, does exercise classes, runs and cycles and is well on the way to her target weight of 10-and-a-half stone. She said: 'When I was diagnosed with MS I was devastated. I thought it meant I was going to end up in a wheelchair in three years, but I have proved this doesn't have to be the case.'

Liz Varvel, who runs the Thorpe Hamlet Slimming World Group, said: 'When Jennie first came she couldn't even walk the distance along the path to the group so now to see her in her gym gear, literally bouncing in to the group, is amazing.'

The Slimming World group is run on a Tuesday evening at 7pm at Lionwood Infant School in Telegraph Lane East, Thorpe Hamlet.

Have you got an amazing slimming story? Call Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk