A slimmer who lost 10st 3lbs and avoided all exercise before losing weight is set to achieve her dream of running the London Marathon.

Gail Tennant, 44, from Airdrie joined the Airdre Slimming World group in February 2016 weighing more than 20st. Now she will be representing Slimming World in their national team of 11 slimmers from across the UK and Ireland on April 28th 2019. This year’s team will be the official golden Slimming World marathon team, as the organisation celebrates its 50th birthday year.

Collectively, the team have lost more than 86st and will be running to raise money for Cancer Research UK and the Irish Cancer Society. The team aim to increase awareness of how keeping a healthy weight can reduce the risk of developing some types of cancer.

Supporting the cancer charities is particularly important to Gail as she has seen her dad battle the disease.

When first Gail joined the Airdrie Slimming World she had been running for around nine months, however struggled to get reach a certain distance with her weight and poor diet taking its toll. When she joined Slimming World, however, she found she could eat to fuel her running and lose weight at the same time.

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When Gail began following the Food Optimising healthy eating plan, she discovered a love for cooking. She swapped her diet of chocolate, cakes and shop-bought-sandwiches for cooking healthy, wholesome meals from scratch including her favourite dish of chicken stir fry.

She said: “When my consultant explained the eating plan, I couldn’t quite believe that I could lose weight without going hungry, and still enjoy all my favourite meals just by making changes to the way I prepared and cooked them. I’ve never eaten so well in my life! And I need all the fuel I can get for marathon training – so potatoes, pasta, and rice are all regularly on the menu! I was so nervous before joining but I soon realised I needn’t have been. I got a fantastic warm welcome from the group.”

Gail added: “I can’t believe I’m running the London Marathon after where I was a couple of years ago. I’ve completely transformed my life, really found a love for running and can’t wait to be running the big one this year – especially in Slimming World’s golden birthday year – is a real dream come true!”

Gail said: “There’s no way I’d have lost 10st or be running the marathon without the support of my group. They are the ones who have kept me on track each week – both with my weight loss and with my running milestones. My group inspired me to keep going and have been there to congratulate me whenever I reach a new ‘furthest distance’, ‘fastest run’ and ‘half stone award’, as well as inspiring me with their achievements on their own journeys! They’ve been really generous in sponsoring me and I know they’ll be cheering me on when the day comes too!”

Gail started with the Couch to 5k app, and has now completed more than 14 half marathons. She can’t wait to run her first marathon as part of the golden Slimming World team: “It’s so special to be on the team in Slimming World’s 50th birthday year. I’m so much happier and healthier and by losing weight I know I’ve reduced my chances of developing a range of health problems.”

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“I can’t wait for the atmosphere on race day and to cross that finish line. Achieving this dream would never have been possible before losing weight. I‘m excited to give something back and raise money for Cancer Research UK and the Irish Cancer Society as I have seen first-hand how the incredible research can help with treatment and help people beat cancer. ”

Slimming World Consultant Lynn Johnston, who runs Gail’s weekly group sessions, says: “Gail is a real inspiration to us and we are all so proud of her. When she first came through the door she just wanted to lose weight – she had no idea what a huge life and fitness transformation she was about to begin and certainly no idea that she would one day be running the London Marathon, it’s incredible! She proves that with a little determination and the right support, anyone’s dreams can be achieved.”

Anyone who would like to sponsor Gail and the Slimming World Marathon team can do so by visiting: justgiving.com/slimmingworld2019londonmarathon

Money raised will go towards Cancer Research UK and the Irish Cancer Society’s life-saving research to help bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.

If Gail’s story has inspired you to lose weight, everyone is welcome at the Airdre Slimming World group which is held at Springfield Community Centre, every Monday at 5.30pm or 7.30pm, alternatively the Airdrie group meets at St Columba’s Parish Church, Thrashbush Road every Thursday at 5.30pm or 7.30pm. Lynn also runs the Calderbank group, which is held every Saturday morning at 8am at Calderbank Parish Church Hall. For more information or to find your nearest group visit www.slimmingworld.co.uk, or call 0344 897 8000.