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Former cabin crew on her grounded approach to life

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Former cabin crew on her grounded approach to life thumbnail Lindsay Bonner

IF ANYTHING is worth doing, it is worth doing well .

This is the philosophy which Ballymartin woman Lindsay Bonner (nee Annett) applies to all aspects of her life.

An award-winning Slimming World consultant, Lindsay knows only too well the daily weight battles which her group members experience.

Born and reared in Ballymartin along with her three brothers, Lindsay first started having issues with her weight in secondary school: I grew up in the country with my three brothers so my weight was never something I was conscious of until I was in secondary school.

When I was 16, my mum took me along to Weight Watchers to help her lose weight, little did I know this was to benefit me. At the age of 16 I weighed 14 stone, I was a big girl and I hated being different to all the other girls in my class, it was such a massive issue.

Before joining the Slimming World ranks, Lindsay enjoyed an 11-year career with Aer Lingus.

I was only 18 when I applied for the cabin crew position. I totally discounted myself as somebody they would employ, as at this time I weighed 13.5 stone.

The year I applied they had dropped the height and weight restrictions for cabin crew members and I couldn t believe it when I got the call to say I had got the position. I moved to Dublin and was working on transatlantic flights from the age of 19. It was an incredible time for me.

I lived in Dublin for the first five years and then moved home around the time I got engaged to my husband Justin. I never planned on meeting a fella from home but that s just how it happened.

My weight yo-yoed during this time and before I got married I was trying every diet under the sun. I moved from cabin crew to ground duties after finding out that I was expecting my first child a year after our wedding and after Robyn (now nine) came along I was back to cabin crew.

Fifteen months later I was pregnant with Jude (now seven) and after that I made the decision I wouldnt be returning to Aer Lingus.

In the meantime I became a member of Slimming World in 2008 to help lose the baby weight from my first pregnancy. Thankfully I was able to continue being a member while carrying Jude as Slimming World is the only organisation that has a dedicated plan for pregnant women to follow. They work in partnership with the Royal College of Midwives.

Lindsay recalls being totally against the idea of becoming a consultant: My consultant who ran the Kilkeel group told me there was an opening for a consultant position in the area and she felt I should apply. My initial reaction was no, I couldn t even motivate myself to lose weight never mind anybody else. She definitely planted the seed however.

It was January 2011 when I started running my groups. My mum, dad and husband all helped with distributing the flyers on Boxing Day. I held my first group in the Golf Links Hotel Newcastle on 6 January and I remember feeling so nervous worrying that no-one would show up. I was completely overwhelmed when 57 people turned up to that first evening and I m pleased to say a good number of them still attend my meetings today.

Within six months of starting, Lindsay received her Silver award and within her first year her Gold award. Her groups have now accumulated nine Gold awards and Lindsay believes this is all down to the dedication from her members and putting herself in their shoes.

One of the biggest reasons I became a consultant was because when I did Slimming World I saw that it was different and I truly believed that it worked. It is a lifestyle change and not a diet as some people mistakenly think.

In my groups, I focus on each individual, there is no shame or guilt coming as I know myself that it s the hardest thing walking through the doors of your first Slimming World meeting. We create so many barriers in our own heads and I like to encourage my members to break these down.

Lindsay faced her biggest barrier to date in October 2015 when she was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin s Lymphoma: I was diagnosed on the Wednesday and broke the news to my classes the following day. I was advised to start treatment the following week which consisted of aggressive chemotherapy and radiotherapy so I knew that I would be off work for quite some time.

I received so many hugs and well wishes from my members and I was just devastated that I could no longer be there for them.

Fortunately Lindsay s treatment worked and she was able to start back to her groups in August 2016.

I like to be busy, so for me, being away from my work for that length of time was soul destroying. When I returned I felt like I was back were I belonged; I was home again.

I love meeting new people and hearing their stories, my members make a massive impact on my life without even realising it. I get such a sense of satisfaction and all I m doing is giving them the tools to change their life around. I really think that if anything is worth doing, it is worth doing well.

I have always felt incredibly humbled that people choose to come to my groups. In my Newcastle classes I have people who travel from as far away as Belfast and Banbridge, and with my Kilkeel classes people travel from Newry.

Positive body image is something which Lindsay hopes to instil in her children Robyn and Jude.

I would never vocally criticise my image in front of my children. If my children do well in a spelling test or they ve worked hard in school I treat them to a trip to the swing park or buy them a magazine. Doing this, will hopefully have a positive impact on how my children develop.

I think our generation grew up with the idea that if you fell and cut your knee you were given a lolly to make you feel better. I think this is one of the many reasons that we have an obesity epidemic, people eat to make themselves feel better.

As a Christian, Lindsay feels that her strong faith has gotten her through the tough times.

I ve got a very strong Christian faith and it has been important to me to thank God for all the blessings I ve had in my life.

I believe that the future is looking bright and my Slimming World career is only in its infancy. I told myself when I started as a consultant that if I ever stopped loving the job I would have to leave it altogether; I don t see that happening anytime in the future.

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