A social butterfly who spent up to £180 per week on decadent nights out said that losing three stone and regaining control of her diabetes has helped her cope with the grief of losing her father.
Type one diabetic, Lauren Upcott, 29, a waitress from Ebbw Vale, South Wales, spent up to £180 per week on nights out and slap-up meals, but Lauren’s partying lifestyle meant her diabetes wasn’t under control, alongside feeling uncomfortable in her size 16 clothes.
When Lauren’s father, Nick Upcott, 60, passed away in December 2018 from prostate cancer, she was grief stricken – and as she analysed her lifestyle, she feared her unhealthy habits would have dire consequences.
Overhauling her routine, Lauren joined Slimming World in February 2019, losing an amazing three stone alongside getting her diabetes under control.
“I wasn’t expecting how much it would help with my grief,” she said.
“Once I turned 18 I started going out a lot and not looking after myself properly. But joining Slimming World has changed my lifestyle and helped me live my life to the fullest.”
Diagnosed with type one diabetes from a young age, Lauren knew she had to keep her diet under control.
“I was diagnosed in 2001 when I was seven years old,” she said.
“Type one is when you’ve got to inject insulin to keep you alive and it can’t be reversed. I’ve got to inject insulin for the rest of my life.
“But the foods I eat do affect the amount I have to inject.”
However, the social butterfly loved meals out and dancing the night away, spending up to £180 a week on food and drink.
“I’ve worked as a waitress for 11 years,” explained Lauren.
“I started going out from 18 years old as I had that extra income. I would spend £80 to £100 a week on meals out, and then about £80 on a girl’s night out. I would try and do it a bit cheaper, I wasn’t buying champagne or anything like that.”
Feeling uncomfortable in her size 16 clothes, Lauren knew her 13st 4lb frame was affecting her health.
“I had high blood sugars,” she said.
Breakfast: Coco pops or cornflakes
Lunch: Ham sandwich, crisps and chocolate
Dinner: McDonalds or fish and chips
“I was sleeping a lot, like napping in the day sometimes up to an hour. I wasn’t exercising as I didn’t have the energy.
“With diabetes when you’re eating unhealthy it makes you really tired but also really thirsty. Those were the main symptoms.
“I had a few confidence issues. It was strange, I was dressing how I wanted but I didn’t feel confident in myself.
“I couldn’t just go up and speak to people like I can now. I think I felt a bit worthless.”
And Lauren was grief stricken when her father, Nick, passed away in December 2018 at just 60 years old.
“My dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2015,” she said.
“But unfortunately it had spread, it was in his lymph nodes at one point. He was going to chemo and radiotherapy but it just went everywhere in the end.
“It was just really sad. He died just before my birthday and Christmas.”
Lost in grief, Lauren analysed her lifestyle, terrified that if she didn’t change her choices she too could become gravely ill at a young age.
“When my dad died, it kind of just gave me an eye opener to life,” she said.
“I wanted to live my life to (the) fullest, he was only 60. I just thought I need to look after my diabetes, because at the time I wasn’t looking after myself.
“It just made me want to change my life.”
So in February 2019, Lauren joined her mum and sister at their local Slimming World group.
“I think at the time I just thought it would be a good thing to take my mind off the grief,” she said.
“But as soon as I started cooking my owns meals I really got into it.”
Breakfast: Baked oats with yoghurt and berries
Lunch: Jacket potato and tuna with salad
Dinner: Chicken and bacon risotto
Snacks: fruit salad, homemade jelly sweets
Shaking off three pounds in her first week, Lauren was overjoyed, though she never expected her weight loss journey to help her process her grief.
“Seeing people each week really helped me,” she said.
“Grief is strange, you never get over it, but you learn to deal with it. Slimming World gave me a focus.
“I love it, I quickly started an Instagram page. I love photography and really enjoyed making the pictures look pretty.”
Losing three stone, weighing 10st 4lbs and wearing a size 10 in December 2020, Lauren finally felt comfortable in her skin.
“Instead of going out for meals I started spending the money on healthy food shops, but I was still saving £100 a week,” she said.
“I feel much more confident and happy in myself now. I’m able to talk to people with more ease and I now exercise regularly which feels great.”
And her diabetes is now under control.
“I inject five times a day,” she said.
“One of the most positive parts of my weight loss is I’ve managed to decrease the amount of insulin in each injection.
“I also don’t nap in the day anymore. I’m just constantly on the move now.
“I’ve now got a Libre on my arm. It’s got one needle that goes in my arm and then I scan it with my phone to check my blood sugars. It’s amazing.”
But Lauren is keen to explain that grief isn’t easy.
“My dad died around the festive period so it’s always a hard time for me,” she explained.
“I’ve put some weight back on because I struggle during this time. Grief is not always straightforward.
“I’ve gained about a stone, but I’m still a size 10-12. Things will affect my weight loss, but it doesn’t deter me.”
And through everything Lauren knows her dad is always with her.
“I wear a necklace with my dad’s ashes in,” she said.
“I wear it at work, or really when I’m out anywhere. I’ve seen some Robins and white feathers so I know he’s with me and he would be proud of me.
“I want to live my life to the fullest for him.”