Becoming obese is a slow and steady process. For overweight people, it can sometimes take a shock to the system to realize how out of control they’ve become. This is what happened to Jennifer Ginley. After taking a dream vacation to Disney World with her family, she realized she needed to make some big changes. This is her story.
After trying several diets without success, 26 year old Ginley – from Liverpool, England – was in a pretty bad place. “I had a massive lack of belief in myself,” she later told Slimming World magazine. “I feel like I wasted so many years with fake smiles that hid how unhappy I was.”
She’d been with her childhood sweetheart, Luke Hagan, for more than 11 years. He was ready to get married, but Ginley didn’t want him to propose. At 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing 270 pounds, she simply couldn’t visualize herself walking down the aisle.
With her law degree and high-powered job as a Citizens Advice caseworker, Ginley couldn’t explain her failure to stick to a diet. She told Slimming World, “(I) could never understand how I could achieve so much in other areas of my life, yet I couldn’t control what I ate.”
Her diet was far from healthy. After skipping breakfast – and failing to pack a lunch – she would spend the day snacking on quick and easy fast food options such as potato chips, ramen noodles and take-out sandwiches. In the afternoons she’d munch on cookies and cream-filled pastries to beat the post-lunch slump.
Her snacking wasn’t just confined to her workdays, either. Ginley also enjoyed bonding with her sister over their shared love of unhealthy cuisine, from lavish restaurant meals to guilty pleasure junk food. During evenings at home she’d snack on potato chips and buttered toast, washing it down with cans of soda.
Ginley’s weight problems started just before she left home for university in Manchester, England. Although her weight had been normal as a child, she was a British size 16 (US 12) by the time she left home. Living alone wasn’t good for her diet, and by the time she graduated she was around 70 pounds heavier.
Although she had been feeling down about her weight for a long time, it was a family vacation in Florida that was the turning point. “When I found myself buying size 26 clothes for the holiday I’d been looking forward to for so long, I knew something had to change,” she admitted.
More humiliation was to come. On her flight to Florida she had to ask for a seatbelt extender so that the belt could stretch over her stomach. When she finally arrived at Disney World she had to sit in specially adjusted seats and was turned away from some rides because she was too large.
After seeing photographs of herself from the trip, she realized enough was enough. In particular, one with her favorite character, Ariel from The Little Mermaid, proved to be a real eye-opener. ”I saw myself in a whole new light – I looked so unhealthy that I cried, wondering how and why I had done that to myself.”
Together with her mom and sister, she joined the popular weight loss group Slimming World. Although she’d tried Slimming World before without success, this time was different. Ginley said, “I just didn’t want to waste any more of my life being overweight and disliking myself for it.”
Her daily food intake is very different now. Instead of skipping breakfast, Ginley takes time to sit down to a filling bowl of oatmeal topped with fresh fruit. She brings vegetable soup into work with her and snacks on fruit when she feels hungry.
She and her sister used to bond over junk food. But now they enjoy cooking each other fresh Slimming World meals such as spaghetti Bolognese and chicken stir fry. “We’ve both changed our outlook on life and I think we’re closer now,” Ginley added.
As well as following a special eating plan, Ginley also shared photos of her meals on social media. She credits this with helping her to stick to her new healthy diet. “From day one I posted my meals on my Instagram account and it really helped me to stay on track,” she revealed.
Ginley’s dedication paid off. She reached her target weight a little over 12 months after signing up for Slimming World. At 135 pounds, she had lost half her body weight but said she felt like “double the person.” She now wears a UK size 8/10 (US size 4/6) and can fit both legs into one leg-hole of her Florida vacation shorts.
Her weight loss has led to her falling back in love with exercise as well, especially dancing. Ginley had to give up her dance classes five years earlier, when she experienced joint pain and breathlessness due to her size. Now she’s back boogying, and she’s joined a gym, too.
Her miraculous transformation has led to Slimming World UK crowning her Miss Slinky 2017. Her new look has even been compared to Prince William’s wife, Kate Middleton. As you can imagine, Ginley’s self esteem has taken an upswing.
Ginley said, “I know I have the strength and the willpower to achieve anything I put my mind to, and that’s a really powerful feeling.” After subsequently undergoing surgery to remove some loose skin, her confidence has grown even further. “I feel like I’m a butterfly, emerging from my cocoon,” she added.
Her weight loss story has proven inspiring to many people. Indeed, Ginley now has more than 128,000 Instagram followers. “I still have to pinch myself when people call me an inspiration, or say that they’re going to start slimming because of me,” she said.
She’s set to inspire even more slimmers as yet another dream comes true — she’ll be gracing the cover of Slimming World magazine’s March/April 2017 issue. In fact, this is something she used to daydream about. “I even superimposed a photo of my face onto a magazine cover and stuck it on my bedroom wall!” she admitted.
As well as a new slimline figure and a huge social media following, Ginley has gained something else — a fiancé. Boyfriend Hagan proposed to her just before Christmas. And this time she was able to say “yes” without worrying about her weight.