Success Story: Claire Sponneck

Updated: Aug 1, 2019

Claire Sponneck turns the tide on an unhealthy lifestyle to lose 39.4kg!

Facts & Figures

Height: 1.64m

Weight then: 100.4kg

Goal Weight: 61kg

Weight lost: 39.4kg

Time Taken: 11 months

After losing 51kg, and winning the 2003 Weigh-Less Women of the Year title, Claire Sponneck felt elated about her transformation. Little did she know however, her dedication towards living a healthy lifestyle would waver one last time. Two pregnancies set her off on an emotional journey, alternating between periods of delight and despair, as her sense of self-confidence and happiness followed her fluctuating weight. With the help of Weigh-Less, and the will to be a healthy role model for her young daughters, she once again reached Goal Weight. Claire has now embraced a healthy lifestyle with open arms, to ensure that her door to a happy future never closes again.

“It was as if something had psychologically clicked within me. I would no longer be held captive to my weight, nor would my family suffer the burden of my self-inflicted misery. It was time for a change.” – Claire Sponneck

Early beginnings

My weight has plagued me for as long as I can remember. In fact, my first Weigh-Less experience was at the tender age of nine, when my father took me to my first meeting after expressing concern at my hefty physique. At the time however, I couldn’t understand the implications of the harmful relationship with food I was creating. Instead of fully embracing healthy habits, I embarked on a rocky journey which would see the numbers on the scale, along with my emotions, endure a long pattern of steep ups and downs.

My unhealthy weight was a case of complete over-indulgence. I ate compulsively and obsessively, and my cravings for chocolates and sweets went unchecked. Before I knew it, my weight had expanded up to triple digits! I weighed 113kg, and my size 20 pants fit snuggly.

My healthy habits negatively affected me during university. Despite being an outgoing person, I withdrew from all social occasions. Being overweight at such a vulnerable and impressionable time in my life was extremely lonely and isolating. My embarrassment at being overweight only increased when I entered into the corporate world. I wore the evidence of my addiction on my body, and I felt judged and embarrassed to project the image of an individual with little ability to exert self-control. My weight was also hampering my career progression, simply because I didn’t have the confidence to embrace opportunities.

This revelation, and my impeding wedding to my husband, Craig, at long last sparked a successful Weigh-Less experience. I slimmed down to 60kg and I was awarded the 2003 Weigh-Less Women of the Year title. I was so happy and incredibly proud, but little did I know, this accomplishment did not mean the end of my struggles with the scale.

The return of unhealthy habits

I fell pregnant with my first daughter, Vanilla, in 2008, and gained about 11kg during that time. Although her birth was an amazing blessing, I was not prepared for the huge life transition that this event represented. During this time the healthy habits I had incorporated into my life melted away under the pressure of my new responsibilities. I was also in the throes of completing my master’s degree, and I turned to unhealthy food options to ease some of the stress I was experiencing. During my second pregnancy in 2012, with my daughter, Arabella, I put on even more weight, and settled back on the triple-digit-kilogram mark. The dive back into unhealthy habits was devastating for me, and I lost a great amount of my dignity and self-respect in the process.

My weight gain affected my relationship with my husband. Although he was always so kind and supportive and never hounded me about my weight, I was miserable at the way I felt and looked, and felt terribly insecure within our relationship. I was also missing out on enjoying precious moments with my children. I desperately wanted to be able to run around on the beach and play in the waves with them, feeling uninhibited. I wanted to be able to listen to their giggles as I threw them high up in the air. More importantly, I wanted to teach them how to eat healthily, how to have respect for one’s body and I wanted to ensure that I would be around for every moment in their lives.

Turning the tide

In August 2013, I made a pivotal decision. I chose to confront my demons, and walk back through the doors of my local Weigh-Less Group. It was as if something had psychologically clicked within me. I would no longer be held captive to my weight, nor would my family suffer the burden of my self-inflicted misery. It was time for a change.

I joined Vanessa Stander’s Group in Port Elizabeth. I stepped on the scale to find that I had eaten my way back up to 100.4kg. After sticking to my Eating Plan that first week, I hopped on the scale and was thrilled to notice that I had already lost 2.4kg. From then onwards I carried on taking baby steps, each day my resolve to reach Goal Weight growing a little bit more.

Finding my sea legs

I did allow for the odd cheat along my journey. I knew that as soon as I felt like I was depriving myself, it may spark a major cheat, and I might be tempted to ditch my healthy habits altogether, as I had done before. If there was a special occasion approaching, I would allow myself some leeway when it came to my eating habits, and I would have a fillet and a glass of wine, whilst avoiding the burgers, pizza or deserts. It was very important for me to acknowledge the fact that my Weigh-Less journey represented a change in lifestyle, and not simply a diet. I therefore did not expect perfection from myself, and I certainly would not chastise myself for a moment of weakness. When I did cheat however, I made sure that I returned to following the healthy principles outlined by my Eating Plan the very next day.

I also knew that my weight loss journey was a matter of choice and consequence. If I made consistent, poor food choices, I would take responsibility for my actions and prepare myself for a gain at my next weigh-in. For the most part however, I concentrated on making responsible and healthy food choices that reflected the healthy lifestyle I was moving towards. My typical meals whilst trying to reach Goal Weight were cereal, yoghurt and fruit for breakfast; crackers, cottage cheese and fruit for lunch, and a delicious Weigh-Less serving of a protein and vegetables of my choosing for dinner.

There were times when I wanted to quit, but my positive self-talk saw me through these moments when it would have been easier to give up. I have a strict Type A personality, and we don’t like to fail. I would allow for plenty of reflection on my goals as soon as I found my resolve slipping. I also kept very active, running around after two little girls who never stop running!

The support I received from my Group Leader, Vanessa, and the rest of my Weigh-Less Group was also amazing and really kept me on track. Vanessa never took responsibility for my weight loss, maintaining that my success was all up to me, but she was my rock as I walked along the path. My mother, who had always told me I was beautiful, my husband and my colleagues also proved to be invaluable to me during this time, with their kind and supportive words of encouragement.

Change on the horizon

After a 39.4kg weight loss, I reached Goal Weight, for what I know will be the final time. Since reaching Goal Weight once again, my life has changed dramatically. Professionally I am much more confident and am prepared to grab any opportunity that presents itself. My husband loves the new me, and every day my daughter tells me I am beautiful. The knowledge that she recognises the healthy changes I have made is so rewarding and I finally feel like the self-assured, healthy, uninhibited and confident mother that both Vanilla and Arabella deserve. They are learning, through my example, the importance of healthy habits so that they will never have to experience the hardships I endured whilst within my prison of weight.

Maintaining my weight loss and not slipping back into the unhealthy cycle of yester-years will of course require work on my part, however I am confident that I will never waver again. I feel as if I have finally learnt to balance my healthy lifestyle with the pressures of motherhood and work, and I have learnt how to fully embrace the lifestyle that is Weigh-Less. I have learnt not to expect perfection from myself, and not to wave the white flag after one moment of weakness. Most importantly, I now have two little angels who’s presence will ensure that I model healthy habits, and keep the doors to a slimmer and happier future, permanently open.

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