Live the life you imagined

7 September 2016
Maureen and Nikki

Maureen and Nikki

Inspirational words on a poster are something we see all the time but for Maureen Ejimofor, they have a special meaning.

A year-and-a-half ago Maureen was an unhappy, size 22/24 and weighed 18 stones (114 kilos).

“I had tried so many diets over the years; juice diets, milkshakes, fasting diets, even diet pills,” said Maureen. “They all worked for a while but then the weight would come back again – and more. My family were nagging me to do something about it but I didn’t know where to turn.”

In September 2014, Maureen decided that she would try an exercise DVD that her sister had given to her. She exercised every day and managed to lose four stones (96 kilos) in four months, but reached a stage where she couldn’t lose any more. “I was exercising constantly and starving myself at the same time,” she explains. “I thought there was nothing else I could do and I was still overweight”.

Luckily a chance meeting at her local co-op in Swanscombe led her to a 12-week programme Why Weight, run by the council. “I started the programme in January 2015. Kash, the programme co-ordinator, explained that I didn’t need
to starve myself to lose weight and that I was damaging my own health in an attempt to slim down. I started keeping a food diary and eating a more balanced and healthy diet. We had a weekly group tutorial session about nutrition, followed by a 30 minute exercise session with a fitness trainer, who motivated us to try various physical activities. At the end of 12 weeks I had managed to lose more weight and was now 84 kilos, smashing my goal target and I had also made new friends. I wanted to carry on seeing someone for motivation and to be weighed, so Kash referred me into the Health Trainer Service, which is where I met Nikki. I saw Nikki every week for a weigh-in, and she really helped me with other aspects of my lifestyle. She kept me motivated and I lost even more weight. I felt like I had a new lease of life.”

But Maureen’s journey was only just beginning. By now an enthusiastic user of the gym, she found that she was helping to motivate others to try new classes and get active. Then she saw a job advert for a trainee health trainer. “I thought ‘wow, this is the job I want to do, I want to do what Nikki is doing’. In the past I have worked for the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, for domestic abuse programmes, and with housing associations. I knew that my experience could help me to empathise and relate to others.

“Nikki encouraged me to apply and I was successful. On the first of September – exactly one year since I began my
weight loss journey – I started in my new role, with Nikki as my mentor.

“I’m finally living the life I wanted to lead and doing a job that I love, helping others. I am able to use all of my own personal experience and it’s giving me so much joy and satisfaction. My son Joseph and daughter Jessica-May say to me ‘mum, you’re like a new person’. I feel like a new person.”