Denise Welch is the ambassador for LighterLife Fast, so we caught up with her to talk about how she’s managed to keep off the two stone she lost a whopping four years ago.

Denise Welch

Denise Welch

For those who have only heard of either the 5:2 diet or LighterLife- how do these work when they are combined into LighterLife Fast.

I think most people have heard of the 5:2 diet, which is; two days of the week- people call it a fast- you’re not completely fasting- you’re eating 600 calories a day on your two days out of seven days.

LighterLife is how I originally lost 2 stone- I went to the groups which we essential not just in my weight loss but my weight maintenance. It’s four years now since I maintained my weight. I had a cognitive behavioural therapist combined with food packs to reach my goal weight. A good way of maintaining the weight is LighterLife Fast, which is taking a range of LighterLife Fast products and using those on your fast days. You can eat up to 800 calories on a fast day with LighterLife Fast

If you are someone like me who is very busy and all over the country- I am back and forth from London to Chester all the time- I don’t have the time or the inclination to calorie count or prepare salads in the morning then take them on the train and all that boring malarkey. For me, to have four LighterLife Fast products in the day which could be porridge in the morning a bar for lunch then shake in the afternoon. They also do they these gorgeous noodle pots for your evening meal and they have a range of snacks called Light Bites, which you can have up to two of on a fast day if you’re feeling hungry. That is an ideal way to help me maintain my weight. So that’s that what LighterLife Fast is- it’s a 5:2 diet using the LighterLife Fast products.

When did you first hear about the diet and why did it grab your interest?

I heard about it four years ago. Five years ago, my husband and I took alcohol out of our lives, which was the best thing that we ever did. What often happens with people who have addictive personalities is they replace one addiction with another. That is exactly what happened to me, so I started to put on weight and eat more. I very gradually put on two stone, which I know is not a massive amount of weight but it is if you are quite small like me.

I was doing Loose Women every day and I was looking at the monitors every day. I was aware that I was not looking how I wanted to look and I was feeling sluggish and my osteoporosis in my knee was playing up. I was also getting married and I wanted to be a slim bride and feel as good as I could.

I made it quite public that I wanted to lose weight and several diet companies approached me. The reason I chose LighterLife was because I realised I was eating in the way that I used to drink. I wasn’t just eating normally; I wasn’t eating a meal and then feeling reasonably full and stopping. I was binge eating and I was secret eating when I had no-one to keep it a secret from. I was eating secretly in the kitchen alone and eating till I was full to burst.

I thought ‘hang on a minute here- this is not right.’ realised that I was eating like I was drinking- to feed a hunger that wasn’t really there. It was weird- it was emotional eating. I thought ‘if I don’t get to the bottom of this- its going to become a problem’- like alcohol was.

I was very taken by the fact that LighterLife said it was about changing your relationship with food and the attitude to the way you eat. Although I was a little bit nervous about the group side of things- that’s what’s changed my life. I had the tools to be able to change my relationship with food and that’s what I’ve done and why I have been able to maintain for four years.

You often post pictures of yourself in a bikini on social media so what’s your reason for doing this?

I have been on holiday this week and I have posted several pictures of myself in a bikini to give people body confidence. Every single newspaper has picked it up this week and amazingly and luckily have been really kind about me!

The reason I do this is not to go ‘hey look at me!’, it’s because I don’t have a perfect figure. I have lumps and bumps; I’ve got cellulite and a tummy. I’m proud of the fact that I am in charge of my body and I do it to give people body confidence. No magazine will tell me that I can’t wear a bikini over 50 because I can wear a bikini over 50- so if I can- you can. I don’t think I look bad for an old bird! That is my basic motto about posting bikini pictures. The press have been really kind about me this week and that is down to LighterLife and willpower- there is no magic solution- but it helps.

How did you used to feel about yourself compared to now?

There is a whole combination of reasons why I feel better about myself now. It’s partly thanks for LighterLife; it’s partly thanks to no alcohol. I was on a slippery slope. I was self-medicating myself for depression for many years. Giving up alcohol was the best thing I ever did. I needed to give up alcohol to focus on the other things I needed to do.

I have a tendency to put on weight quite quickly- I’m a Geordie so I love pies and chips- I’m a Geordie girl! The whole thing with this diet is that I can have those things occasionally. I make informed choices to have fish and chips and an informed choice to have a pie. I don’t just reach for one at the end of a bad day like I used to for comfort.

It doesn’t make you feel feel better- it makes you feel ten times worse when you've had it. LighterLife enabled me to make informed choices and I don’t have to cut all the naughty things out. I am just more informed about when I have them.

If I was slim- back in the day- it was because I wasn't eating properly, I was drinking too much and not looking after myself. I never felt any pride in being slim. Now I do feel a pride in being slim because it’s down to me.

What exercise do you do now to support the LighterLife Fast plan?

I’m not a gym bunny, which I have been quite public about. I have never been the type of person who finds a buzz with fitness- I’ve never really found that. I do know that I have to do some exercise.

To be honest, my weight maintenance happens in the kitchen. Doing exercise is for my fitness. I am 59 this year so I walk a lot and I do moderate weights- just on my arms. Lincoln and I are massive walkers. I am going to be doing the Great Manchester Run on the 28th May. I do that every year for Teenage Cancer Trust so I do have to build up my walking into a slow jog. I don’t break my back doing it and I’m quite active but I don’t spend hours in the gym. I do keep myself reasonably fit and it also helps my knees as I have osteoporosis. Keeping the weight off and moderate exercise really helps with that as well.  

Now you are beach body ready and you don’t have to worry about that side of things- how else do you prepare for your summer holidays?

I don’t really prepare for my holidays! My only preparation for my holidays is having a spray tan. The way we go on holiday- we never know what are going to be doing- our lives are very unpredictable, therefore so are our holidays.

I am a terrible packer; I pack at the 11th hour and end up wearing two of the 407 outfits that I have squashed into a case. I always manage to fit my spray tan in the night before. So that’s me being holiday ready!

So many woman fall into the yo-yo dieting trap so how do you keep on track and stop that from happening?

I was just like everyone else. I was a constant yo-yo dieter- my mantra was ‘it’s all or nothing’. I was either stuffing my face or starving myself. People say things like ‘diets don’t work’- they do work- if you don’t eat the food- if you don’t eat the pies- you will lose weight. It’s keeping the weight off that doesn’t work with a lot of people. That’s where the CBT that I learned at Lighter Life helps. There is a massive obesity crisis- not just in our country but across the world. It is all very well for people to say ‘eat less, move more’- we know that! It’s not rocket science! A lot of people are eating too much because it’s emotional eating. A lot of people have problems that aren’t being addressed by their doctor and I know they haven’t got the time. This isn’t a dig at GPs. They can give their patients a diet sheet- but we can all go online and find a diet sheet. We need little tools to help us change our attitude to food. It’s about changing your attitude and I couldn't have done it without the support.

Cognitive behavioural therapy sounds really grand and frightening. Actually it’s not- a lot of it is just common sense. In a nutshell, it’s about thinking before you do something.

If you come home after a really rubbish day at work and you come in and you think I’m so fed up. You know that you are overweight and you know that you are trying to lose weight. But you are so fed up, you just want to ring the pizza company and order a massive pizza- you do that on a whim and you eat it.

Then you think that makes me feel better- but it doesn’t- it makes you feel worse. It makes you feel sluggish, tired and really angry with yourself. You go to bed feeling ten times worse than you did.

One example of CBT is – after you’ve had a really bad day at work, ask yourself- ‘if I order this pizza that I am really tempted to do, how is it going to make me feel?’ I know it’s going to make myself feel terrible so I am just going to take five minutes. I will go the fridge and I will have something to eat but I will make and informed choice about what will make me feel better before I go to bed. When you have done that, you feel so much better than you did.

I did that with cigarettes as well. I gave up cigarettes using the techniques I used at LighterLife. I kept thinking ‘I am so desperate for a cigarette- but if I have that cigarette now after I have bene doing so well am I going to feel better and more relaxed? Am I going to feel happy about myself?’ No. I am going to feel really disappointed, I am going to stink of cigarettes- so no I’m not going to have it.

It’s about leaning the tools that you almost start doing subconsciously. I think if that National Health Service was spending more time on why people are thinking in this way in the first place- we would really reduce the obesity crisis. That is my little political thought for the day!

What is next for you? 

I come back and I start rehearsals for Wind in the Willows Musical at the London Palladium. I am over the moon with excitement; I haven’t been in a musical for years. I am playing Mrs Otter, Rufus Hound is Mr Toad- it’s got an amazing cast. I can’t wait- I am really nervous but I am thrilled to bits to be back in the West End. That is me for the next few months- I am London based- I have got myself a flat in Soho and I am all set to be a London girl or a few months. 

Denise is an ambassador for LighterLife®. Having lost weight on the LighterLife Total programme, she now uses the LighterLife Fast® plan to keep her weight in check. LighterLife Fast is available from £2.49 exclusively at Superdrug and