June 2024
11 and a half stone lighter, Sarah is a true inspiration

03 May 2024

Just over a year ago Sarah Speight was 25 stone, dreaded leaving the house and hated the thought of exercise.

Battling an addiction to food, she was the heaviest she’d ever been and having spent most of her life unsuccessfully trying every diet going, she says she was at breaking point.

Her confidence was completely shattered and her anxiety was through the roof.
Today, however, the 35-year-old, from Stalybridge, couldn’t be further removed from her old self.

Not only is she an incredible 11-and-a-half stone lighter and a lot happier, she’s turned her loathing of exercise into a passion, attending as many as three Active Tameside exercise classes a day!

It’s been an amazing life-changing journey for Sarah who says she feels fantastic, is brimming with confidence and embracing a whole new life.

And while it took a dramatic leap of faith and strong determination to kickstart that journey, she credits a special bunch of Active Tameside instructors with motivating and supporting her.

After considering gastric bypass surgery for several years, in February 2023 Sarah paid privately to undergo the major procedure.

Clinging to the operation as her last hope, Sarah was warned it wasn’t a miracle weight loss cure and she would need to completely change her lifestyle habits for it to be a long term success.

“I was addicted to food and once I started eating, I couldn’t stop,” said Sarah, who works for the fraud team for an online bank.

“I’d be making my tea but I’d already have been in the fridge and eaten enough for four people before I’d even had my tea. And then I’d still be hungry, eating chocolate and crisps afterwards. I just couldn’t stop. I’d had weight issues right from being young and it just got worse and worse as time went on. For years my confidence was on the floor. I hated going out, I hated speaking to people, I just wanted to hide in my room away from everybody. It had a huge impact on my mental health, my anxiety levels were sky high. You don’t want to make an effort with yourself, go anywhere or do anything. I’d find excuses to get out of things. It was horrible. I’d been researching gastric band surgery for years but I’d been too scared to do anything about it as it’s such a major, irreversible operation. I was warned over and over again by the hospital that the surgery was only a tool and not a miracle cure like people think. It wasn’t going to do it for me, I had to work with it and keep at it and that it was going to take a lot or hard work and self-motivation for it to be successful. I knew this was my last hope as I had tried every diet going and hated the thought of exercise and stepping foot in a gym of fear of being judged for the way I was.”

Sarah lost 10lb in the first week after her operation and following a six-week recovery period she took her first tentative steps towards starting to exercise.

“I decided to join Active Tameside because by cousin is a member and went to Tameside Wellness Centre,” said Sarah.

“I forced myself to attend a class. I hung around in the doorway and I was such a nervous wreck I just wanted to go home. I was completely out of my comfort zone.

“But I braved it and met some wonderful people who wanted to help me and were so supportive. I enjoyed it so much I began booking into more classes and using different centres and now I do two to three classes every day and absolutely love it. I never, ever thought I’d say that. I have met so many new friends, not only other gym goers but also a wonderful team of instructors including Paul Yarwood and Gaynor McKelvey. They have all become so invested in my journey and so supportive. It has helped me and my confidence massively. I’ve gone from the girl who hated the thought of the gym to the girl who looks forward to going and can’t get enough of it! Active Tameside has literally changed my life - socially, physically, mentally, and I was not expecting any of it, particularly the friendship side. I see people socially, some of us are even going away together. I feel amazing, like a completely different person. My family has supported me throughout and they can’t believe the difference in me. They say you’ve gone from sitting in your room on your own, not seeing anybody or doing anything to never being at home. My second home is the gym and I’ve got this new lease of life and this new burst of confidence. I’m know where near as anxious and I actually enjoy going. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done but the best thing I’ve ever done.

“The operation went well. The process is still ongoing and I’ll be under the hospital for another 12 months but they’re really pleased with me. I’d like to lose another two stone ultimately but it’s the little goals which matter the most. I can now fit in an aeroplane seat without needing a seatbelt extender and I can buy clothes I like rather than just what fits. I still enjoy food, I’ve just to control it and it’s easy to let bad habits creep back in but I’ve just got to remember the journey I’ve been on and I just know I’m not going down that road again.”

One of Sarah’s inspirational Active Tameside class instructors, Paul Yarwood, said: “I have had the pleasure of getting to know Sarah during her time with Active Tameside and it’s been absolutely amazing to share in her fitness journey and see her astonishing results. From the first time meeting her when she shyly entered my spin and circuit classes it’s been lovely to see how she has integrated with our other lovely members and witness her physical and mental transformation into a confident and vibrant member of our community. It’s such a pleasure to see her positive mental attitude and despite being somewhat nervous initially, she has applied herself with astonishing determination. For me exercise is a fantastic way to make yourself feel good - particularly taking part with others as part of group exercise - and you can see how she thrives within this environment. Her story is an inspiration to others who might feel they cannot succeed. Thank you so much Sarah. I hope you will continue to share your journey with us for many years to come!”

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