Wheelchair bound mum Nicola is a shadow of her former self as she sheds five stone to transform her life

Runcorn: October 24, 2018: Nicola Nicholls has spent her entire adult life confined to a wheelchair after being brutally assaulted as a toddler which left her with crippling Rheumatoid Arthritis.

She was just two and a half years old when, with her tiny cousin, she wandered out of the back garden of her aunt’s house. The children went into a nearby school playing field where Nicola was savagely beaten by an older boy and left unconscious with life changing injuries.

As she grew older and her joints started to seize up as a result of the horrendous attack, Nicola resolved that her bubbly personality and sharp mind would compensate for her failing body.

By the age of 10 she was wheelchair bound but utterly determined her injuries wouldn’t hold her back from living as normal a life as possible. She went on to gain full-time employment and by the age of 23 had married husband Andy, a systems analyst and close-up magician, she met by chance on an online chat room.  The couple have a 12-year-old son, Harrison.

However the progressively worsening Rheumatoid Arthritis made it virtually impossible for Nicola to exercise and, as a consequence, her weight ballooned.  The constant battle with the scales was becoming a part of her life which was starting to depress her – over and above the trauma of her disability.

When her friend and former work colleague Emma Kennedy launched Slimming World classes at The Heath Business and Technical Park in their home town of Runcorn, Nicola, aged 38, promptly decided this was the opportunity she needed to get her body back into shape – and hopefully help to increase her life expectancy, giving her many more happy years with her family.

Nicola signed up to Slimming World on January 18th weighing in at 12 stone 4 lbs. In her first week she promptly lost 7lbs, and the weight just continued to drop off.  She had set her target to get down to 7 stone 7lbs.  Now, eight months later, Nicola has more than reached her target, tipping the scales at 7 stone 4lbs and achieving the Slimming World Five Stone Award!

Says Nicola: “I started Slimming World feeling really unsure. I didn’t know if it would work and I didn’t know how it would work with me being a full-time wheelchair user and unable to walk, let alone exercise or even get weighed at class. However, my consultant Emma at The Heath was amazing and told me that they could enter my weight manually if I could get weighed elsewhere such as at the doctors or at home, if I could manage it.

“I rolled (pun intended!) in to my first class weighing 12 stone 4lbs. I’m ashamed to admit that number but I know I’ll never see it again. 37 weeks later I got my 5st award and my target award – and I still feel shocked if I’m honest. Shocked that I did it. Shocked that I stuck at it. Shocked that I actually bloody enjoyed it!”

Nicola says Slimming World classes kept her motivated and provided the support network to achieve her goal.

“Everyone’s story for being there is different but regardless of the reason, we all shared the same journey. 2018 has been MY year, a year to find the old Nic, not just mum, or wife or the Nic in work…I had none of those hats on and made sure I did this for me and my family. I want to see my boy grow up and be happy. I want to see him hopefully one day fall in love and be everything he wants to be in life. I want to grow old (disgracefully) with my husband and live life to its fullest and, if I’m honest, had I have not taken this journey that likely wouldn’t happen.

“I want people to know that even if you struggle to exercise or you can’t walk at all, Slimming World still works! If you can’t get weighed in class due to mobility issues just speak to your consultant and they’ll work with you. If you have friends or family with those concerns then please send them my way and I’ll happily speak to them and try to help. I’m not going to sit here and say it’s been easy because it hasn’t. But do you know what? It’s been so, so worth it – and I’ve made some lifelong friends along the way.”

Nicola, who works as an Investigations Officer for the Ombudsman Services, says winning her battle with the scales has totally transformed her life.

She says: “I do hope my story inspires and encourages other disabled people.  Last year I read a newspaper article where a woman confined to a wheelchair had been turned away from her local slimming club.  Of course the process is a little bit more complicated for people in my position but where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Emma found a way around the weighing issue and the classes I attend at The Heath are in an environment which is wheelchair friendly.

“As a full time wheelchair user since I was 10 years old, and now at the age of 38, I had spent years overweight – not eating a breakfast or lunch most days but then starving and wanting something quick and convenient at dinner time. This routine had left me struggling to fit in a size 18 and after Christmas 2017 I vowed I’d make a change.

“I’d seen my lovely friend, Carrie, lose four stone and she looked incredible. It was her encouragement that gave me the push which is something I’ll always be grateful for. I was nervous about going to a class, people judging me as my disability affects me physically so much. In all aspects of my life I am confident, I have an amazing husband and son and a career I love but my weight was my real confidence killer, and made me feel more self-conscious than my disability.”

Among the ‘mini-targets’ she set herself was to get down to a 14 dress size by July for a family cruise around the Mediterranean, which of course she achieved two months ahead of schedule!

Nicola says she left her first class ‘buzzing and focused!’

“I planned my week and stuck 100% to plan. I couldn’t believe it when I’d lost 7lb in my first week and achieved my half a stone award. I’ll be honest that I was sceptical it would work as I cannot exercise, so my whole focus was being totally on plan and committed. My first loss only spurred me on and a month later I’d achieved my ‘Club 10’ which is a loss of 10% of your original starting weight. I’d gone from eating one meal a day to three lovely nutritional meals that left me feeling full and stopped me craving food that I’d previously reach for.

“Our class has its own Facebook group and we encourage each other, share tips, recipes, pictures of our meals and encouragement when you need it most. Emma is amazing and so supportive and really cares – and a combination of these things make going to class fun and enjoyable. My mum joined not long after me and she too is doing so well, it’s great having so many people to share the journey with and we are all genuinely delighted for each other when one of us achieves an award or hits their target.

If someone had told me at Christmas I’d have lost this amount of weight by food optimising I would have never believed them. I’m so happy I joined Slimming World and would recommend it to everyone, especially those in a similar situation to myself.”

Emma Kennedy’s Slimming World classes are held each Thursday night and Friday morning at The Heath Business and Technical Park’s in Runcorn and are attracting around 100 members.  Full details on these and other Slimming World classes around the UK can be found by visiting: www.slimmingworld.co.uk

About The Heath

The Heath Business and Technical Park is a phenomenal regeneration success story. Formed in 2000, its owner and operator, SOG Ltd, transformed a once single-occupancy corporate facility into a thriving independent business park. The Heath has provided employment for thousands of people – many of them highly-skilled scientists and technicians. It has also generated business for countless numbers of suppliers – regionally, nationally and internationally – who support the companies located at the Park including highly-specialised scientific and technology operations.

The Heath provides office and laboratory accommodation for more than 120 individual organisations across 20 different sectors, ranging from business services and IT specialists to those at the cutting edge of science, research and advanced manufacturing.   For further information, telephone 01928 515988 or visit www.theheath.com 

Issued on behalf of The Heath Business and Technical Park,

Runcorn, Cheshire, WA7 4QX – Part of the SOG Group

Media contact: Paul Smith Associates (PSA) 01420 22532

E-mail: paul@paulsmithassociates.co.uk