Why did you want to lose weight initially?
Dawn’s amazing weight loss and transformation journey started in February 2018, shortly after her wedding to fellow Performance Project member Tom. Dawn looked stunning and even felt beautiful on her big day but when she saw the photos she felt mortified.
She had always envisaged putting her wedding photos on canvases and displaying them proudly at home, making thank you cards with them, sharing them on Facebook and so on … but she didn’t feel like doing that at all. She didn’t even want to look at them. She felt absolutely gutted.
“In every single photo I was spilling over my dress and I looked physically uncomfortable. There wasn’t a single photograph that had been taken, either professionally or by my friends that I could look at, I was just so mortified. And that was my turning point.”
Dawn’s wedding dress was a size 24 and she was nearly 20 stone. At this point, not only did Dawn feel deflated by what she saw in the photos but she also realised how her weight was affecting her role as a mum to her two young children. When she was playing on the floor with them she struggled to get up and started to worry that if they fell or got hurt, or ran into the road for example, she wouldn’t be able to get to them quickly.
So, she decided it was time to make a change. This was the start of Dawn’s amazing transformation journey.
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What was the first step on your transformation journey?
At first, Dawn made small but manageable changes, such as swapping out whole milk for skimmed milk, sugar for sweeteners, Walkers crisps to Pop chips, and so on.
She didn’t use meal replacement shakes or go to Weight Watchers or Slimming World, just used common sense and sheer will power to make sensible diet changes. Every couple of days she took something bad out of her diet and simply replaced it with a better alternative.
“I was still allowing myself to have food I enjoyed, I wasn’t eating lettuce all day, I just chose healthier, lower calorie alternatives.”
Dawn was even still having a chocolate bar every day at this point but she would take her five favourite bars, read the packets and choose the lowest calorie one to have. Over time, she gradually learnt to be able to not have that chocolate bar and have some raisins instead, or another lower-calorie alternative.
She gradually adjusted her diet and this simple approach meant that it was possible to sustain the changes for the long term. This wasn’t just a fad diet but the start of a whole new lifestyle for Dawn.
She was still eating foods that she liked but all in moderation. And by sticking to this new eating plan by October 2018 Dawn had lost an impressive four and a half stone.
Unfortunately, she didn’t feel like celebrating her success just yet as even though her weight had dropped massively on the scales, she remained a size 20 and couldn’t see as much difference as she hoped. She just couldn’t understand why.
Undeterred, Dawn took another huge step on her transformation journey and made the decision to do some exercise. Previously she had had no interest in exercise whatsoever, she had seen going to the gym as a chore rather than something people actually enjoyed.
The thought of running had horrified her and she had thought that any exercise would be time spent away from her children. Her attitude had been that she’d rather be larger and with her children than spending time getting fit away from them. That attitude was soon to change, however, as Dawn discovered the benefits of becoming fit and active.
Why did you decide to start exercising?
On 8th October 2018 Dawn decided that this was the day to make a change. She had started to become bothered by the excess skin left after losing such a large amount of weight and wanted to try and ‘tone up’ to do something about it.
So, she pulled on her trainers and went for a run.
She ran 0.25km to the top of her road before throwing up and breaking down in tears. She cried because she felt embarrassed that she could only run that far. Little did she realise what a momentous step this was towards completely transforming her body and changing her whole outlook on life.
Dawn felt so upset after her run that she phoned her husband Tom and cried down the phone to him, telling him: “I can’t do it. I’m still fat.”
Luckily for Dawn, Tom was really supportive and encouraged her to carry on. He believed in her and he helped her to believe in herself. Enough to pull on her trainers again the very next day and run again.
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The second day she set herself the target of running to the lampost just past the end of the road. And every day after that she set herself a new goal, just a few feet further away each time. She did this every single day for a whole month and every day she made it to her new target.
Then she started tracking her running using an app to measure her distance and she realised, with some surprise, that she had gone from running just 0.25km that very first day to running 10km in just over a month. Wow!
During those life-changing four weeks Dawn also dropped from a size 20 to a size 16. Finally she was getting the results she really wanted … except that a new problem had arisen. The excess skin was now becoming more and more apparent as the weight dropped off her.
She felt that it looked like it was just hanging off her and she didn’t like it.
So, what was the solution?
It was around this time that Tom had joined Performance Project, on a recommendation from a friend, as he was on his own weight loss journey. Dawn admits that at first she was rather skeptical about this decision, as she felt that it was a lot of money to spend every month on a gym when you could spend a lot less elsewhere.
She wondered how much better it could really be than any other gym but Tom kept assuring her that it was worth every penny. He told her what a great place it is to train and began to encourage her to give it a try.
She was so bothered by the excess skin resulting from the dramatic weight loss that she eventually decided that she might as well give it a go. She wondered what she had to lose just by doing a month’s trial?
The answer to that question turned out to be, nothing. Not only did she lose nothing but she gained a whole new lease of life. From the minute she walked through the door she was completely hooked.
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“Every single person was just so lovely. I had never been in another gym but my impression of them was that they are places full of egotistical people flexing in front of the mirror. I couldn’t have been more wrong about this place.”
How were you feeling before joining Performance Project?
Initially Dawn felt worried that she wouldn’t belong here and that she wouldn’t know what to do. But these feelings of worry and vulnerability were quickly allayed.
During her initial consultation Dawn was re-assured by Chris that PP could help with her issue of excess skin. And after her very first session Dawn started to think that she might even enjoy exercising and getting fit.
Very quickly she felt that she belonged here and soon PP became like a second home.
“I love the fact that I can come here and be myself and not be judged. I feel accepted and I actually feel loved.”
And it turned out that Chris was right. Dawn started noticing a difference in her skin in about four to six weeks. She also started to notice definition in her arms – something she had never thought possible.
What happened next?
Not long after Dawn had joined PP, her husband Tom announced that he had signed her up for the Brighton half marathon! With some reluctance and a few nerves, she agreed to do it and began her training immediately. It seemed that there really was no stopping this girl!
Unfortunately, two days later Dawn broke her ankle. Undaunted by this setback, Dawn continued to train at PP. She was loving her sessions so much that she couldn’t face not carrying on now she had started.
“Luckily, PP worked around me so I could carry on training. I thought I would be a burden or an annoyance or in the way if I continued coming to the gym but Jerome and the team totally tailored workouts for me so that I could carry on and not start piling the pounds back on. All the team were completely supportive.”
While her ankle healed, Dawn managed to maintain her weight at around 13 stone. Luckily, the ankle healed in about three weeks so then she started getting back to training for the half marathon.
By the time the half marathon came around in February, Dawn was down to 11.5 stone and a size 12. The smallest she had ever been as an adult. She also smashed the half in 2 hours 28 minutes, faster than she expected.
Riding the crest of the wave of confidence that completing the half marathon had given her, Dawn started to really believe that she could achieve all her goals and reach her target weight of 10 stone.
With a new-found vigour, Dawn pushed on hard with her training at Performance Project and by March 2019 she hit her target weight. She was down to 10 stone and a size 10! And she felt absolutely amazing.
After you smashed your goal weight, did you manage to maintain it?
Since then, Dawn has continued to work hard to maintain her new weight and what began as a singular mission to just lose weight and tone up a bit has become an ongoing lifestyle choice.
Going to the gym is no longer seen as a chore but a choice that Dawn is happy to make. She truly believes that her training at Performance Project has helped to make her a better person in many ways and that it has given her a new lease of life.
“I have definitely put years on my life. I will be around a lot longer now for my children.”
Not only will she be around longer for her children but Dawn has also become a good role model for them. They see her exercising as a normal part of life and they aspire to be fit and healthy themselves. They love working out with her and having a super-fit mummy to run around with.
“I’m now a role model for my children. My five year old loves running and lifting weights already because he sees mummy and daddy doing it.”
The kids also have a positive relationship with food and Dawn feels proud that by educating them on how to eat healthily they will grow up without having to face the same battles that she did regarding her weight.
Dawn is an inspiration to other family members too, as following her amazing weight loss journey her husband Tom has lost eight stone.
What other benefits has being a member at PP given you?
Dawn believes that the mutual passion that her and Tom share for Performance Project has brought them even closer as a couple and done wonders for their relationship. Even though they can’t work out together because of childcare juggles they usually come home and discuss their sessions and their achievements.
They also understand each other’s need to workout. Not only has PP helped them both to achieve incredible physical changes but it also provides a whole world of emotional and mental benefits for them. Dawn admits that if she feels a bit down or grumpy, or tired, she can come for a workout and feel great afterwards. A PP session helps her to feel rejuvenated, so then she can go home and continue being an amazing mum and wife!
“Performance Project is a connection that we’ve got. It’s like our own little bubble.”
Getting fit together has also given Dawn and Tom more energy to spend quality time together at the end of every day. Before joining PP they would sit down together to eat and then both fall asleep on the sofa by 8.30pm because they had so little energy as a result of a less active lifestyle.
Would you recommend Performance Project to other people?
Dawn describes PP as being like a magnet, she literally can’t stay away. Even though she recently broke her toe she still wants to come and workout!
“Performance Project is like my second home, it’s where I belong. It has made me a better person in every way. It’s made me a better mum, given me more patience and has made me happy.”
With hindsight, Dawn can see just how unhappy she was about her weight. She feels that she always masked this discontent and convinced herself that she was naturally big and could never be smaller because of her genes. She found ways to explain to herself why she was so big and to justify that it was OK. Now, she wishes she’d started her fitness journey sooner and urges anyone else feeling the way she did to do the same.
Her positive attitude and unwavering determination got her started on this incredible journey and with the help of PP she has travelled further than she ever thought possible. And this is only the start. Dawn has now made such positive changes in her life that who knows where her fitness path will take her next? Congratulations Dawn!
“I would absolutely recommend PP to everyone. I always wear the t-shirt and shout about it to anyone who will listen.”
If Dawn’s story has inspired you to start your own fitness journey, contact us here.