Carol Tinker, 59, from Lincolnshire, started a fad diet when she was 18 and still found herself regaining the weight she had lost – but after recovering from cancer, she started a new plan that helped her lose weight for good
Image: Second nature)
A mum-of-two who has tried 30 diets over the past four decades and always regained the weight has finally lost it for good.
Carol Tinker, 59, from Lincolnshire, started counting calories when she was 18. At the time, she was a size 12-14 and felt like she was gaining weight.
At first she lost 10 pounds and was happy with her progress, but soon she was trapped in a cycle of losing and gaining weight every year for the next 40 years.
She said: “I used to do all the fad diets, the soup diet, the Atkins diet, the shake diets. I would tell my mom, she would bring the food and we would try to lose weight together.
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“I was doing it for two weeks, losing 10 pounds, then putting it all back on again and a few. I wasn’t eating right, so as soon as you stop the diet, the weight comes back.
“I always felt bad on the diet. I never felt healthy and my brain didn’t work as well.”
In 2019, Carol received the devastating news that she had breast cancer that had spread to a lymph node – and she says she turned to food for comfort.
While undergoing grueling chemotherapy, she was too exhausted to cook meals from scratch and relied on ready meals. In two years, she had gained five stones.
“The way my mum coped was to feed me and I was on steroids which didn’t help,” she said.
Carol was feeling down due to her cancer treatment, weight gain and work stress. In addition, his medication was making his joint pain unbearable.
After being given the green light from cancer in 2020, Carol was introduced to NHS-backed Second Nature, which uses behavioral science to change bad eating habits into good ones.
The plan doesn’t ban any food groups, which means you’re allowed to eat chocolate, cream, butter, and nuts.
After signing up, Carol received a cookbook and a trained health coach through an app.
She added: “I was so ashamed of my weight and not convinced of it that it took me a long time to sign up. But when I received my package in the mail, it was quite exciting.
“I received a scale, a watch and was put in touch with six other ladies from the Lincolnshire area. I also received the recipe book and was afraid to cook from scratch.
“There was no way I would have time to do it and I thought it would be boring but I enjoyed it!
“I was so used to taking something out of the freezer and popping it in the microwave that I forgot what cooking was really like.”
Carol started eating oats and yogurt with berries for breakfast, a sweet potato, beet or halloumi wrap for lunch, and a Second Nature home meal for dinner.
“We love the massaman curry with avocado chocolate mousse for dessert or the bang bang prawns, barbecued pulled pork and cottage pie with mashed cauliflower,” she said.
Carol’s husband and sons, aged 13 and 16, also enjoy the meals, which she says gives her the freedom to eat as she wishes.
She said, “I like cheese, I like cream and butter. A friend of mine couldn’t believe I could eat all of these things during Second Nature. And if we’re going out to dinner and I want a glass of wine, I’ll take it!
Two years into the plan, Carol has lost more than four stones and says her eating habits have changed.
She has also started walking her dog for two hours most days – and incorporates walking into her daily life.
Carol said her habits had totally changed since the start of the plan and learning to cook for herself again had changed her life.
She said she slept better and prioritized her forty winks – and as the weight went down she got more comfortable too.
Carol also doesn’t put too much pressure on herself to stick to a healthy diet all the time and only weighed herself 10 days after Christmas.
She said: “I don’t call Second Nature a diet and I don’t see it as a diet at all, I just see it as making healthy choices.
“I am not limited by anything at all. I just feel like I’m living a healthy life! I just look at my little zigzag line for the year and it keeps going down.
“I’m eating more than before. I’m not hungry and I’m definitely losing weight. I feel like I’m not going to do that again and I’m just going to keep losing!”
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