HOOP member Alice’s inspirational fundraising by competing in first ever triathlon

HOOP UK would like to thank member Alice for raising an amazing £225 by competing in her first ever triathlon. Well done on your truly amazing achievement Alice. 

I realised my weightAlice 1  had no bearing on my ability to do things that made me feel good when I read an article that my personal trainer, Chris, gave me to read about a man who had weighed about the same as me and who had done a triathlon. We chatted about what was involved in undertaking a triathlon during my fitness session and the more I thought about it the more I realised I wanted to have a go at taking part in one. I suggested people who would probably join me in a team effort. If I could get a team together it would mean that one person would do the swim part, another the cycle part and yet another the running part. I thought I could do the swimming, my cousin (Helen) is a brilliant cyclist who has done triathlons before and my friend James runs to keep himself fit. Before the end of my session I had my team planned, Chris had found me a date for a triathlon that was taking place in 3 months time and I was full of enthusiasm to ask Helen and James if they were up for taking part with me. They were and Helen entered us into the event! Heck, I was a size 30 and I was going to swim 800 meters in a real triathlon event. I was very nervous about taking part being the size I was but then again, why should my size stop me from doing something that I wanted to? I had read so many stories about people who were going to achieve their ambition as soon as they had lost so many pounds or stones. I didn’t want to be added to that list. I wanted to show that I am about more than my size.

I knew that I would be the weakest link in our team and so I set about a tough training regime, swimming 5 or 6
times a week and having my weekly session with Chris. I was aware that people would look at me when I went swimming but I decided that their opinions would not stop me achieving my ambition. The amount of support I received from people in and out of the pool was unbelievable and I never felt any negativity towards what I was trying to do. I did have moments where I doubted my ability, particularly the thought of standing among committed athletes at my size in a swimming costume. That was a very intimidating thought. I did not know how they would react. Chris assured me I would not be ridiculed by my fellow competitors and alice 3he was right.

On the day of the event I felt sick. I looked out of the car window and saw fit people with expensive bicycles and other athletes warming up. I the biggest entrant by far and for two pins I would have got back in the car but I had my 2-year old twins with me and I was not going to let them see me quit!

I went to sign for the timing chip. As the swimmer of the team I would be taking part first. It was too small to go around my ankle but it would go around my wrist. I thought, ‘there’s something else to make me stand out’ but at least it meant I could take part. It sounds a simple enough challenge to swim 800 meters then run 100 meters as fast as I could in front of spectators (with no water to hide under – eek!) then hand the timing chip over to the next team member.

In the changing room it was scary – it was the first time I had worn my costume among athletes and I felt terrified. I wanted to take a towel to wrap around me when I went to stand by the poolside but that was not allowed because all the swimmershad to be ‘pool ready’. While I was waiting for my turn to start my swim a lady next to me wished me luck, told me it would soon be over and reassured me that I would be ok. Also, as I looked at the people gathered to watch I saw that nobody was laughing or staring at me.

I got in the water and all my nerves turned into determination to do well. I remember looking up as I was swimming and hearing my children shouting, “Swim like a fish mummy!” By the time I had swum my 800 meters I didn’t care less about talice 2he spectators – I had to get the timing chimp to Helen and that was all that was on my mind. I ran as fast as I could and I could hear her shouting to me that I was doing great. I was so focussed that it wasn’t until after she left on her bike that I realised I was stood in the middle of a field in my swimming costumes with no towel to wrap around me and I had to walk through car parks to get back to the changing room! And still nobody was laughing at me; I was accepted as a triathlete who had given her all. My trainer, Chris, came running up to me and told me how proud he was of me. I felt on top of the world! Helen and James both did marvelously in their sections and we finished 8th out of 22 teams. We were all very happy with the result and I didn’t stop smiling for about a week. I had achieved a dream and I am a triathlete.

As a member of the HOOP community I am aware that lots of people don’t have the courage to follow their dreams and ambitions due to their size. I hope my story shows that if you believe in yourself and put in the work that is needed everyone can try to make their dreams come true. My foray into the world of triathlons has led to a love of open water swimming and since then I have taken part in The Big Swim which is a 1.5 kilometre open water swim and next year I intend to swim the length of Lake Windermere. I’ll let you know when that’s done!

HOOP member Cathy’s fantastic fundraising by completing Greenwich Park 5k run

A huge thank you from HOOP UK to member Cathy for fundraising by running her first 5k at Greenwich Park. A great personal achievement and inspirational story. Keep it up. 

I found out about HOOP (UK) agreenparkbout 18 months ago after watching Fat, The Fight of my life (the first episode I saw featured our lovely Beth Clegg). This series left me feeling so inspired, todiscover that there is hope, if others have overcome obstacles then so can I! Since then I’ve been trying to challenge myself because if nothing changes – nothing changes!

Last October I completed my first 5k at Greenwich Park. I almost backed out at the last minute due to nerves as I thought I was going to look silly in front of all those professional runners. I’m so glad that Sharon Pritchard talked me out of it! Her words of wisdom of aiming to complete, not compete is something that I’ve held onto ever since. I did complete it and I also raised £285 for HOOP (UK).

About six months ago, my friend suggested that I might like to take part with her in The Thames Bridges Challenge, a 20km trek from Putney Bridge to Tower Bridge crossing 16 bridges along the way. This little voice within me came from out from nowhere and said ‘Yes!’

Over the summer months I started walking, just short walks at first and each time I tried to walk that little bit further. I’d have a walk around the local park, into town, in the countryside – sometimes with friends as it’s nice to walk and talk, and sometimes alone where I could think about things. I took part in a couple of 5k Race for Life events at Epsom and Hyde Park and had a couple of longer training walks
The challenge day arrived – again I didn’t feel prepared! The day started with a rain shower, my journey to the start was a challenge in itself due road closures and missed train connections – but I didn’t give up which put me in good stead for the actual event itself. The clouds disappeared, the sun came out and after our Zumba warm up off we walked. It was tough and I had to grit my teeth at times to get through it – I had to stretch out a calf cramp I got up a flight of stairs at Waterloo Bridge, dodge the busy crowds at the Southbank and the shoulder ache from my rucksack on that final stretch. The strange thing is that even during these uncomfortable moments I did enjoy the experience and would do it all again! Walking with others made it a pleasure and they really helped me focus on the good things going on when I needed it.

The best thing about accomplishing something outside of your comfort zone is not just the happiness and buzz you get, but also knowing that at the same time a great charity like HOOP (UK) is also benefiting. At the moment I’ve raised £300 for this challenge.

HOOP member Jo’s inspirational story

Jo has been a member of HOOP since March 2012. Below is her story. Well done Jo you are a true inspiration.

My story is… I mjo ensor 1arried my first love at almost 17, he was Indian. His family was religious and believed in arranged marriage so were not happy about us marrying. We then had a daughter. Both myself and my daughter were kept secret from all his family, even his brothers. We only visited if just his mum was in and if people knocked on the door me and my daughter were hidden in another room. My husband would go and stay at his mum’s for weekends or even weeks at a time if family visited so they would all think he was a good Hindu boy waiting for an arranged marriage. He would never be seen out in public with me in case he was seen by extended family which made me feel “not good enough” and I took comfort in food.

I was completely controlled. I worked and my wages were paid into his bank, he did the food shopping, sorted the bills etc. I had to go to college in secret while he was at work. He found out 2 weeks before my exams and destroyed the books. Life continued like that for 10 years until one night he told me he no longer loved me and left. No explanajo ensortion, no warning, just went. I was devastated. I found out 2 weeks later that he was having an affair with my best friend who he is now married to and has a child with. All of his family know about his new wife and child which made me feel even more that I wasn’t good enough.

I continued to eat and get bigger while my husband had his happy new life with a size 6 ex best friend.

Now I look back and see that they both did me the biggest favour as I deserved far, far better. I am now with the real love of my life who married me at nearly 35 stone and loves me for me. My weight loss is for him as well as me so I can live as long as possible with him. I truly believe things happen for a reason. For me I’m getting healthier, happier and am meeting some amazing people along the way.

Sharon’s great fundraising efforts

Sharon has been a member of HOOP since 2013. Below is Sharon’s story. We would like to thank you for your great fundraising efforts. 

IMG_1806Two years ago, at the start of my weight loss journey, I had a crazy idea that, one day I wanted to complete Tough Mudder. On Sunday 13th September 2015 that idea became a reality and I waded through 12 miles of mud and 26 incredibly challenging obstacles in the Cheshire sunshine to raise money for HOOP and to prove to myself that I could do it.

It took every ounce of grit and determination but, with the support of my team mates and fellow FullSizeRender (5)mudders, I made it through ice baths, electric shocks, high fences, enclosed spaces, tear gas, falling backwards into the unknown and mud, lots and lots of mud!

It’s a challenge that tests you to your limits mentally as well as physically, living up to its name, but that feeling as I crossed the finish line was amazing, such a great sense of achievement and pride in myself and my team mates.

I’ve raised about £150-£200 for HOOP.