A mother and daughter have lost nearly 9st between them and shed four dress sizes apiece by cutting out unhealthy snacking and running 5K races together.
Elsie Spalding, 21, and her mother Tracey Spalding, 50, from Hertford, Hertfordshire, say they are ‘closer than ever’ since taking on their weight-loss challenge in January.
In a matter of months Elsie, a fine art student at Bournemouth University, went from 13st 13lbs to just 9st 2lb and a size eight by switching a McDonald’s breakfast to porridge and exercising most days.
Elsie decided to join her mother at Weight Watchers after eating a cheese toastie and a teacake in a cafe while they were out together over the Christmas holidays, and Tracey told exactly how calorific her meal was.
Elsie Spalding (right), 21, and her mother Tracey Spalding (left), 50, from Hertford, Hertfordshire, say they are ‘closer than ever’ since taking on their weight-loss challenge
Elsie recalled: ‘She told me what I was eating would have been the whole of her daily allowance in points, adding that if I wanted to join WW she would pay for it and help me.
‘Still, I did not think I would do it, because I thought I’d get bored very quickly.’
Elsie, who used to have a body mass index (BMI) of 34.5 compared to the NHS’ recommended range of between 18.5 to 24.9, used to eat whenever she felt strong emotions.
She said: ‘I had an unhealthy relationship with food. If anything went wrong I would eat, or if I was happy I would eat.
Childminder Tracey (pictured left after her weightloss with her now svelte daughter Elsie) had a BMI of 29.8 before she slimmed down and was overweight, according to the NHS
‘I didn’t think I could break this cycle and thought it would be like this for the rest of my life. But my mum made me feel differently and now we are closer than ever.’
Tracey encouraged her daughter to join in her weight loss after she started seeing impressive results.
With Elsie leaving for university in September 2018, Tracey thought it would be a good time to join WW, and by March 2019, she had lost almost three stone, taking her down to 10 stone.
She reached her goal weight of 9st 7lb in March 2019 after ending mid-week boozing and running 5K three or four times a week.
Elsie, a fine art student at Bournemouth University, went from 13st 13lbs to just 9st 2lb and a size eight as she started attending park runs (pictured with her mother Tracey after running)
Childminder Tracey, who also shares a son, Alfie, 23, with her husband, Dan, 52, said her motivation to lose weight was the approach of her 50th birthday.
With a BMI of 29.8 before she slimmed down making her overweight, according to the NHS, she said: ‘I was coming up to a big birthday and I wanted to be fit at 50.
‘I realised I was unhappy and started thinking about my health and fitness. I’d always been between nine and 10st, but after I had children the pounds started going on slowly.’
She realised constant snacking, drinking during the week and not doing any exercise wasn’t making her happy.
Elsie, pictured left before her weight loss, said she felt confident despite her size. The student (pictured right since losing four stone) now loves going for 5K runs
She added: ‘I work as a childminder, so I’m at home picking all day. I would then enjoy a few glasses of wine in the evening and liked a good night out in the pub.
‘I’d eat a lot of unhealthy food like sweets, chocolate, crisps, bacon rolls and pasta and went up to 12st 11lbs.
‘I could not fit in any of my clothes anymore and I wasn’t doing any exercise. I just didn’t feel good.’
Now she’s delighted that her own successful diet inspired Elsie to address her weight too.
‘I didn’t want to tell Elsie that she should lose weight, I knew it had to be her decision and she had to do it when she was ready,’ Tracey explained.
‘But I think it sparked something in her when she saw how I’d done it.
Childminder Tracey, who also shares a son, Alfie, 23, with her husband, Dan (pictured together before her diet), 52, said her motivation to lose weight was the approach of her 50th birthday
‘She did really well, then we both started running. We did the Race for Life and were doing the park runs together.
‘It’s so important, because as well as increasing our health, it’s something that we can do together. I go and visit her at university in Bournemouth, then we get up and do the park run.
‘I’m so proud of her for doing it. It’s not just for health but for our mindsets as well.
‘We’ve always been close, but it’s brought us closer together.’
Hitting puberty at 14, Elsie said that from then onwards she just kept gaining weight.
‘At 14, I was a size 12, so I wasn’t really big, but compared to my friends who were a lot smaller, my size was noticeable. Still, I wasn’t really bothered. I always felt quite confident and was never picked on,’ she said.
‘When I got home from school I’d just go in the cupboards and get biscuits or crisps and keep snacking.
Elsie, pictured left on a night out before losing weight, joined Weight Watchers after eating a cheese toastie and a teacake in a cafe with her mother. Tracey wanted to spring Elsie (pictured following her dramatic weightloss) into action
‘At 16 and 17 I got worse. I was a size 16, sometimes wearing a size 18, and my friends were all a size eight.
‘Then, when I went to university, I was doing my own food shopping, so it would be cheap pizzas and oven chips, packets of Supernoodles, or 99p burgers from McDonald’s.’
And despite attempting to diet, she always found herself falling back into her old eating habits.
‘I was conscious of it, but I didn’t really want to do anything about it. I did attempt diets, but it would die off and I’d just carry on like before,’ she said.
‘I used to be confident around my friends, but I started going into myself in front of other people, because I’d worry about what I looked like. That was quite difficult.’
A few months after she started university in September 2018, Elsie was surprised when her mum visited and looked really slim, as she had joined WW.
Tracey (pictured with Elsie on holiday before their weightloss) realised constant snacking, drinking during the week and not doing any exercise wasn’t making her happy
‘She looked really good,’ Elsie recalled.
‘We did a bit of shopping, she tried this top on and looked incredible.
‘I was really impressed by what she’d achieved, but I didn’t think I’d be able to do the same.’
After Christmas 2018 Elsie joined the slimming club online and headed back to university.
The pair agreed Tracey would go to the classes and pass the advice she gleaned on to her daughter, who would go herself when she finished university in May.
Elsie said: ‘I had to change my whole lifestyle, so I gave everything up.
‘At the beginning, I would not have a cooked breakfast or a McDonald’s because I worried that if I allowed myself to, I’d fall back into bad habits.
After Christmas 2018 Elsie (pictured on holiday during her weightloss) joined the slimming club online and headed back to university
‘I did struggle in the first couple of days, but after the first week and a half, I’d lost seven pounds, which changed my mindset and made me really determined.
‘The change has been incredible.
‘I now eat lots of veg, chicken breasts, WW snacks and sugar-free jelly. I’ve got a really sweet tooth, so that helps to ease my cravings. I cook a lot of meals from scratch and prep meals for lunch.’
A typical student before her diet, Elsie normally got out of bed at 11am. But, as the weight started to drop off, she started getting up early to go for a walk or a run.
When she went home, she would join her mum on a park run, a free weekly 5k running event held in green spaces around the UK.
Tracey (pictured enjoying a drink while maintaining her svelte figure) says she can sleep better at night now she isn’t carrying any extra weight
‘I used to get a lift everywhere and I’d never exercise, but I started taking the stairs and walking everywhere,’ Elsie said.
‘My mum was doing the coach to 5k running app, so I did it too, then when I came home for Easter, we started running together.
‘It took me about seven months to reach my goal weight of 9st 13lb in July.
‘I did it really quickly and was really strict. Since then, I’ve lost more and now weigh 9st 2lb.
Elsie’s diet before
McDonald’s or Coco Pops
Cheese panini, crisps, chocolate bar, fizzy drink
Pizza and oven chips
Crisps, cookies, chocolate
Elsie’s diet after
Fresh fruit and yoghurt
Chicken and sweet potatoes
Ham salad and a bag of French fries
Salmon and new potatoes
‘I feel really great now. Sometimes I still feel a bit self-conscious, but when I go to the shop and buy a size eight instead of a size 16 it feels so good.
‘My whole fashion sense has changed. I buy things I never thought I would. I was wearing skirts all through the summer and little crop tops.’
Shaping up together has made the mum and daughter team closer than ever.
‘We love finding recipes and cooking together,’ said Elsie. ‘We’ll still eat something like fish and chips, but we’ll make our own hand cut potato or sweet potato chips, and then we’ll have chicken nuggets using chickpea breadcrumbs.
Elsie is pictured enjoying a glass of prosecco in a dress as she makes the most of her new figure following her dramatic weightloss
‘We also do the park run together on a Saturday morning.
‘We were always close, but we’re even closer now.’
And Tracey says she can sleep better at night now she isn’t carrying any extra weight, making it easier to get up and enjoy her mornings.
Tracy’s diet before
Bacon roll or pastry
Sandwich and crisps
Pasta, sausage and chips, or curry, couple of glasses of wine
Chocolate and biscuits
Tracy’s diet after
Boiled eggs on toast
Fish and corn on the cob
‘I feel brilliant now, I sleep better at night. I feel good going out to buy clothes and summer is great as I don’t feel like I have to cover everything up, and I can wear shorts.
‘Before I would hit the snooze button but now I’ll jump out of bed and get a run in before the day starts.
‘I eat lots of homemade soups, fish and veg and have stopped drinking in the week. I don’t miss any of it.’
Elsie recalled feeling ‘beach fit’ for the first time ever this summer, saying: ‘I was on holiday in Spain and wore a bikini for the first time in my life.
‘For Mum, losing weight has been a massive confidence boost, too.’
Looking forward to spending Mother’s Day together, Tracey and Elsie will be spending it at home this year, with activities restricted due to the coronavirus.
‘I think it will be a quiet celebration this year. We’ll probably just cook something nice together,’ Elsie said.
‘She really is the best mum. I couldn’t have done this without her.’
For more information about myWW, visit WW.com or download the WW app and to follow Elsie’s journey on Instagram visit @es_progess