A woman from South Wales has lost more than eight stone in less than a year since being mentored by MasterChef’s Gregg Wallace.
Diane Blackmore, 48, from Miskin in South Wales, the chief executive of Follow Your Dreams, a charity for children with learning disabilities, has dropped five dress sizes since using Gregg Wallace’s healthy eating plan, ShowMe.Fit.
While her mental health was positive throughout the pandemic because she was helping so many children and parents, Diane’s physical health deteriorated – she was constantly at her desk and found herself snacking throughout the day.
Diane decided to regain control of her health and lose weight, and since taking part in Gregg’s plan, says she has recovered from long Covid and her blood pressure has dropped to a healthy level.
Gregg said of the eating plan: “For me, it isn’t a diet. I think diets are restrictive things that you do for a short space of time. Me and Di make healthy choices, we enjoy our food, and that is sustainable.
“At the beginning, it’s a little bit difficult because you have to stop your old routines and you have to learn new ones.
“So all the things you learn that made you overweight, you have to unlearn, but that doesn’t mean to say it has to be uncomfortable.”
Gregg said he set up ShowMe.Fit after losing four stone himself: “I’m a bit of a workaholic and it was lockdown. I couldn’t do anything, and there was a lot of press interest in how I’d lost weight.
“I sat in my office at home with loads of pads, pens, and highlighters. I tried to write down the process I had used to lose weight and keep it off. And it was really tricky.
“And then I thought, right, we need healthy recipes, and my wife started writing the recipes, and my daughter, Libby, said she could help me with the filming, and then I met Kat, the nutritionist.
“That creativity and that desire to help brought about ShowMe.Fit”.
In lockdown, Diane became the heaviest she had ever been, saying: “I was piling on the pounds because my charity went through a really tough time in that we were just faced instantly with no money whatsoever coming in.
“We used to go out fundraising and everything, and then suddenly it stopped.
“And then you’ve still got your bills going out and your rent on your offices and your staff to pay.
“So we had to make some staff redundant, close our offices and work from home.
“It was just awful, and on the other hand, we had hundreds of families needing our help because there was no one else out there for them.”
Diane quickly worked out how to support people using Zoom and delivered 30 sessions a week, from arts and crafts to quizzes.
She said: “It was phenomenal what we achieved with so little, but the negative of that was I was sat down for practically two years, day, night, bank holidays, Christmas Day, just working away helping others – I just didn’t think of myself.
“I just didn’t realise the toll it had on me. Even though my mental health was brilliant because I was helping so many people, I failed to help myself and just thought I couldn’t continue like this.”
Diane began following ShowMe.Fit in March 2022, and uses the website’s meal plans every day, which consist of three healthy balanced meals daily with no snacks – something that was a shock at first.
She said: “I used to be constantly eating when working from home, sometimes I’d be constantly eating for 19 hours a day.”
Diane added that the plan has made her able to identify hunger signs more effectively, which was vital for her weight loss journey, saying: “We try to eat until we’re about 80% full and that is a hard sign to recognise, especially for someone like me that considers myself to be a big eater.”
Diane regularly posts her meals and health updates on Instagram, and one day received a message from Gregg congratulating her on her progress.
She said: “He messaged me saying, ‘Well done, you’re doing great’. We started chatting and hit it off. Greg took an interest in my progress and he’s helped a dozen or so members where he gives up his time to really help support and mentor you.”
Morning snack: Two slices of toast with butter or jam
Breakfast: Bacon and egg sandwich
Afternoon snack: Half a packet of biscuits
Lunch: Sandwich with a packet of crisps and a chocolate bar
Dinner: Takeaway including starters and medium
Evening snack: Cheese, crackers, fizzy drinks
Gregg and his son, Sid, three, who has autism, then joined one of Follow Your Dream’s Zoom sessions and demonstrated how to cook a healthy flatbread. Meanwhile, Gregg began mentoring Diane with regular messages.
After slowly losing an impressive eight stone, Diane not only feels more body confident, but her health has dramatically improved.
She said: “My blood pressure is dropping. I had long Covid as well, but that’s gone.
Breakfast: Coconut and chocolate porridge with almonds and banana chips
Lunch: Coronation chicken with couscous
Dinner: Fillet steak, butter bean mash and broccoli
“I used to have a constant cough from long Covid, which led embarrassingly at my age to incontinence problems and I had to wear pads and stuff. And I no longer have to do that.
“I’ve never felt deprived. It doesn’t feel like a diet, it’s a life-changing plan. It’s sustainable forever.
“It’s been seriously utterly life-changing.”