By Becca Husselbee
A priest who was addicted to snacking has shed four and a half stone after she became too big to fit into her clerical robes.
Janet Lyssejko, from Bury, Greater Manchester, became a priest in 2011 but unhealthy habits lead to her piling on the pounds until she tipped the scales at 14st 10lbs and a dress size 18.
The 54-year-old, based at St Thomas’ Church in Bury, would snack chocolate, crisps and biscuits throughout the day and made no effort to get active but finally joined a slimming club after her clerical robes became too tight for her to carry out Eucharist, baptism, weddings and funerals.
She was also inspired to lose weight after she posed with daughter Tash, 27, at her baby shower in June 2017 and said the photos looked like they were both pregnant.
Having now shed 4st, Janet weighs a slender 10st 10lbs and fits into a svelte dress size 12 – and said her new slimline robes feel better than ever.
Mum-of-two Janet, who also works in an office as a civil servant, said: “I had some really bad habits and in my head still thought I was young and it wouldn’t affect me.
“I am now at the sort of age where it just creeps up on you and my weight just ballooned without me realising.
“I was eating lots of snacks, unhealthy meals cooked in fat, full-fat milk and would drive everywhere, and at work I was sat at a desk most of the day.
“I had had my robes for a few years and when I originally bought them I had plenty of room to move about. As time went on I noticed they were getting quite tight and I would struggle when carrying out services, especially the Eucharist and baptism, but anything where I would need to lift my arms.
“The buttons would pull, almost to breaking point, at the front, like how a shirt does when it is too tight. I knew I had to do something before I couldn’t get in them at all.
“It really hit me when my daughter was having her baby shower when she was around thirty-eight weeks pregnant. Someone had taken a picture and you couldn’t tell which one of us was expecting. “I was mortified.”
Janet signed to WW, previously known as Weight Watchers, in August 2017 and was determined to change her ways after she had always turned away from trying healthier options.
With the help of her husband, John, 56, she stuck to the meal plans and ditched the car to walk to church and before long her congregation started to see the difference.
Janet said: “I had always turned my nose up at healthy meals and I’m not much of a cook, so always ran out of ideas of what to eat. Takeaways were always a good and regular option.
“John has been my rock throughout the whole process and loves cooking meals from the WW cook books. He even hid all my favourite treats from me so I wouldn’t be tempted. Believe me; I did search high and low to try to find them.”
“Everyone started to notice the change but you never really notice it yourself on a day to day basis. You still just see the bigger sized you.”
“It wasn’t about cutting everything out, it was moderation, changing habits and making the right choices. It is about knowing when to rein it back in when I had a bad food day.”
“Being in my WW Workshop has been a blessing. I have always had such great support and I don’t think I could have done it without them. The support and encouragement that I get from my coach, Debra Yorke and the group, is so encouraging.”
“I know people may feel like if they attend a WW workshop, they might be shamed etc, but it is really is not like that these days. There is so much encouragement even when you are not doing so well. I have made so many new friends and we all support each other.
“John and I even started walking the dog together, rather than me just leaving it to him. I now walk to WW with a friend. And I either cycle or walk to church on a Sunday morning.”
Janet reached her target weight of 10st 10lbs in May 2018, just two days before her summer holidays.
She said sticking to the WW plan has enabled her to maintain her weight ever since, fitting back in to her robes and is now able to carry out her services and church duties in comfort.
She said: “I feel so much better in myself and have been able to make some great friends after becoming part of the group.
“I’m not perfect but I now have more will power that I had before. I have definitely changed my mindset and habits for the better”
DAILY DIET: BEFORE
BREAKFAST: CEREAL WITH FULL FAT MILK
LUNCH: TAKEAWAY FOOD OR BACON SANDWICHES
DINNER: FOOD COOKED IN FAT OFTEN WITH CHIPS
SNACKS: CRISPS OR CHOCOLATE
DAILY DIET: NOW
BREAKFAST: YOGURT WITH MIXED FRUIT
LUNCH: TUNA OR CHICKEN SALAD
DINNER: MEALS FROM WEIGHT WATCHER EDIT PLAN
SNACKS: FRUIT OR CARROT STICKS