Mum once called ‘Big Mac’ by bullies wins slimming award after transformation

A mum who was once cruelly called ‘Big Mac’ by bullies because of her size has won a national slimming award after losing four stone and maintaining her healthy weight for 17 years.

Zoe Mole, 38, from Wimborne in Dorset, had to ensure physical and verbal abuse throughout her school days, before she dropped five dress sizes in her early 20s

She hasn’t looked back and has maintained her weight loss ever since.

What's more Zoe even runs her own slimming group helping others to change their lives as she did.

Nearly two decades on since she began her transformation, Zoe has been named Slimming World’s Top Target Consultant 2021 to celebrate her weight loss journey.

Zoe’s weight issues first began when her parents got divorced when she was just nine-years-old.

She admitted she turned to food for comfort, saying: “That’s when my unhealthy relationship with food started.

"I lived off sweets and cakes and would sneak spoonfuls of golden syrup.

"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 for Zoe, her size didn’t go unnoticed at school and she was picked on incessantly.

She said she was regularly spat on and called ‘Big Mac’ because her maiden name was McGregor.

Zoe added: “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 even worse or Zoe as she found herself in an unhealthy relationship, which ended after three years.

She explained: “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’.”

So in January 2002, weighing 13st 7lbs and wearing a size 18, Zoe walked through the doors of her first ever Slimming World group.

She said: “It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done – and also the best thing.

"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.”

Zoe began following Slimming World’s Food Optimising eating plan and swapped her diet of processed meals and sugary snacks for home-made cooking.

She discovered a love of new foods, including pasta and fresh fruit, adding: “I don’t think I ever ate fruit and veg before.

The mum hit her target weight of 9st 7lbs, losing 4st and wearing a size 8, in February 2004 and says it was an unbeatable feeling.

She exclaimed: “It was a dream come true. 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.”

After losing weight, Zoe had the confidence to start being more active, taking up running via the Couch to 5k app and is due to run the London Marathon in April 2022, and she tried online dating too.

As a result, she met her husband Matt, they married in 2009 and now have two children, Daisy, nine, and six-year-old Max.

Zoe says there have been times in the past 17 years where she has struggled to maintain her new healthy weight, including during recent lockdowns, and having the Slimming World plan and support of her group to fall back on has been invaluable.

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She says: “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. 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.

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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