Mother, 38, who comfort ate spoonfuls of Golden Syrup after her parents’ divorce and was called ‘Big Mac’ by bullies reveals how she shed 4st and kept the weight off for 17 years
- Zoe Mole joined Slimming World at 19, lost 4st , has maintained it for 17 years
- Mother-of-two, from Wimborne in Dorset, now runs her own slimming group
- Took up running after losing weight and will run London Marathon in April 2022
A mother-of-two who shed 4st after cruel bullies called her ‘Big Mac’ as a teenager has managed to maintain her weight loss for 17 years – and now helps others do the same.
Zoe Mole, 38, from Wimborne in Dorset, began to struggle with her weight at nine years old, after her parents divorced, and suffered physical and verbal abuse throughout her school days, turning to food for comfort.
In her early twenties she dropped an incredible five dress sizes and hasn’t looked back – she even runs her own slimming group helping others to change their lives as she did.
With her newfound confidence, Zoe tried online dating and met her husband Matt; the couple married in 2009 and now have two children, Daisy, nine, and six-year-old Max.
Zoe Mole, 38, from Wimborne in Dorset, began to struggle with her weight at nine years old, after her parents divorced, and suffered physical and verbal abuse throughout her school days, turning to food for comfort
In her early twenties Zoe dropped an incredible five dress sizes and hasn’t looked back – she even runs her own slimming group helping others to change their lives as she did (pictured now)
Nearly two decades on, Zoe is now celebrating being named Slimming World’s Top Target Consultant 2021 for her incredible achievement in becoming slim for good.
Zoe hit her target weight of 9st 7lbs, losing 4st and wearing a size 8, in February 2004 and said it was an unbeatable feeling.
‘It was a dream come true,’ she recalled. ‘When I first joined Slimming World I worried it would just be something else I failed at, but week on week my group and my consultant helped me to find my inner confidence and I did it!
‘It’s not just about stepping on the scales and seeing that number though, it’s about gaining the life I wanted to live.’
Zoe said her unhealthy relationship with food began at the time her parents split.
Zoe shed 4st after cruel bullies called her ‘Big Mac’ as a teenager, and has managed to maintain her weight loss for 17 years (pictured before)
‘I lived off sweets and cakes and would sneak spoonfuls of golden syrup,’ she admitted.
‘It made me feel good for a minute or so. My dad worked a lot too so I would cook for us, which meant mainly oven or ready meals.’
Unfortunately, Zoe’s size didn’t go unnoticed at school and she was picked on incessantly. She told how she was regularly spat on and called ‘Big Mac’ because her maiden name was McGregor.
Zoe said: ‘I had no friends and would often eat my lunch in the school toilets so that no one would see me eating.’
After leaving school things got worse, as Zoe found herself in an unhealthy relationship, which ended after three years.
Zoe said she lived off sweets and cakes and would sneak spoonfuls of golden syrup. Unfortunately, Zoe’s size didn’t go unnoticed at school and she was picked on incessantly, regularly spat on and called ‘Big Mac’ because her maiden name was McGregor
She admitted: ‘I was at rock bottom. I hated myself. One day my sister found me sobbing on the stairs and said, “Enough is enough. We’re joining Slimming World”.’
In January 2002, weighing 13st 7lbs and wearing a size 18, Zoe walked through the doors of her first ever Slimming World group.
‘It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done – and also the best thing,’ she admitted.
‘The main thing that struck me was the acceptance I felt – I’d expected everyone to laugh or stare at me, but for the first time ever I found myself in a roomful of people who didn’t judge me and I was made to feel really welcome.
‘As a consultant myself now, I always remember that and I think having the strength and courage to walk into a group when you’re at your lowest is something to be very proud of.’
She began following Slimming World’s Food Optimising eating plan and swapped her diet of processed meals and sugary snacks for home-made cooking.
Zoe admitted there have been times over the past 17 years where she’s struggled to maintain her new healthy weight – in particular the recent lockdowns (pictured before the weight loss)
Zoe discovered a love of new foods, including pasta and fresh fruit. She said: ‘I don’t think I ever ate fruit and veg before.
‘I loved – and still love – that I can eat pasta and the freedom of the plan which means I can eat without worry and don’t have to count and weigh everything I eat or feel hungry.
‘It’s so liberating compared to counting calories or fat. After all these years I still love discovering new recipes each week in my group and love that, despite what a lot of people think, healthy eating doesn’t have to cost a fortune.’
ZOE’S MENU BEFORE
Breakfast: White toast with golden syrup
Snack: A doughnut
Lunch: Sandwich, crisps, chocolate bar
Dinner: Chicken nuggets, chips and beans
Evening: Sweets, cakes, chocolate
ZOE’S MENU NOW
Breakfast: Overnight oats with yoghurt and berries
Mid-morning: Piece of fresh fruit
Lunch: Pasta with a homemade tomato and vegetable sauce
Mid-afternoon: Fat-free yogurt or a high-fibre cereal bar
Evening: A Cadbury Twirl
After losing weight, Zoe had the confidence to start being more active and took up running via the Couch to 5k app. She is due to run the London Marathon in April 2022.
Following the birth of her daughter in 2011, Zoe decided to leave her sales role and train as a Slimming World consultant. She now runs the Corfe Mullen Slimming World group in Dorset.
‘I felt strongly that I wanted to help people change their lives like I’d changed mine,’ she said.
‘It really is the most incredibly rewarding role, seeing people step off the scales feeling great about themselves and their achievements each week – especially when you know exactly how brilliant that feels – is amazing, and you get loads of support, encouragement and training from Slimming World in the background too.’
Nearly two decades on, Zoe is now celebrating being named Slimming World’s Top Target Consultant 2021 for her incredible achievement in becoming slim for good
Zoe admitted there have been times over the past 17 years where she’s struggled to maintain her new healthy weight – in particular the recent lockdowns.
ZOE’S VITAL STATS
Height: 5ft 4in
Starting weight: 13st 7lb
Current weight: 9st 7lbs
Weight loss: 4st
Dress size before: 18
Dress size now: 8
She said having the Slimming World plan and support of her group to fall back on has been invaluable.
‘Lockdown and home schooling was something I – like everyone else – had never experienced before and I was surprised to see old habits, habits that I thought had gone forever, sneak back in,’ Zoe explained.
‘I quickly realised I needed to do something to regain control, so I joined a virtual Slimming World group because, even after all these years, I needed that support.
‘I also find the tools Slimming World has really useful, especially For and Against lists, which helped me to delve into my mind, refocus and remind myself why I want to maintain my weight.
‘When I look back at old photos of myself, even when I’m smiling I know I was miserable, and I don’t want to go back to that.’
Thankfully, with the support of her fellow slimmers, Zoe got back on track and is now delighted to be Slimming World’s Top Target Consultant 2021.
She said: ‘It feels amazing. I’m so grateful to have found Slimming World aged 19; it changed my life and I believe saved my life as I really was at my lowest ebb.
‘Now I’d love to inspire others to make a change too.’
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