Grangemouth gran’s weight loss is also helping her slow down progression of vascular dementia

New look...Margaret Stewart, with the t-shirt she wore to her first class, has lost more than four and a half stone in little more than a year thanks to WW. (Pic: Michael Gillen)
New look...Margaret Stewart, with the t-shirt she wore to her first class, has lost more than four and a half stone in little more than a year thanks to WW. (Pic: Michael Gillen)

The vast majority of us will have struggled with our weight at one point or another.

But Grangemouth gran Margaret Stewart had more reason than most to shed the extra pounds.

For she was diagnosed with vascular dementia in January 2018 and advised that lifestyle changes could make a difference.

With four children and seven grandchildren, and another one on the way, Margaret had a lot of good reasons to stick to her guns.

She had already joined the Weight Watchers (now WW) class at Grangemouth Town Hall with her close friend Shona Davie in November 2017 to help combat the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

But the vascular dementia diagnosis two months later was the final straw.

Motivation...this picture was the one that initially prompted Margaret Stewart to tackle her weight.

Motivation...this picture was the one that initially prompted Margaret Stewart to tackle her weight.

It was a shock to the whole family as Margaret, of Dundas Street, was only in her early 50s when she received the devastating news.

With Shona’s support and that of her family, who all live locally, the determined 55-year-old attended weekly WW classes, even during the Beast from the East, and is now 64lbs lighter.

She said: “Receiving the vascular dementia diganosis was a real wake up call.

“I’d tried every diet plan going over the years but nothing ever stuck so, when I joined WW in November 2017, I was a couple of pounds shy of 17 stone.

“Shona and I really liked the class and our coach Lisa McDonald, who is still trying to reach her own goal weight.

“She’s human and that’s what we liked about her.

“I’ve never set myself a target weight – I think that would put me off.

“I just set small goals all the time, my latest being to lose four pounds I’ve put back on.

“I’ve lost more than four and a half stone so far but, more importantly, it is helping to keep the dementia steady.

“It’s all tied into your BMI, stress and blood pressure – if they’re too high, you end up losing more memories.

“Losing the weight has helped lower them all and at my last two check-ups, my memory function tests have remained exactly the same.

“They’ve not got better but they’re no worse, which is the main thing. I want to be here for as long as I can for my children and grandchildren and that’s all the motivation I need.”

While Margaret wishes she had tackled her weight earlier, she is learning to cope with her diagnosis and believes that laughter is the best medicine.

“I was sent for an MRI as I was trying to get into the wrong house and couldn’t work out why my key wasn’t working,” she said.

“That did upset me and I was diagnosed soon after.

“But I just laugh now when I lose my keys or flood the bathroom because I’ve forgotten to turn off the taps!

“I can’t cook any longer and I have to stick to a routine every week, to try to remember what I’m doing.

“I’ve also told my family to tell me if I’m repeating myself so we don’t have the same conversation over and over.”

It’s clear that Margaret has a good support network, for which she is very grateful.

But telling her eldest granddaughter, Katie (12) who lives across the road with her mum Amanda, wasn’t an easy decision.

Margaret said: “We had to tell her because Katie has always come over to me to stay at nights or weekends.

“We decided she was old enough to understand and she’s been fantastic – we always muddle through.

“I can’t cook any more but Amanda (35) has been great, as have my other children – Pamela (33), Michael (29) and Beccy (25) who all live locally.

“My doctor has told me it’s about quality of life now, not quantity, but is really pleased with my results. He also believes I’m doing so well because I’ve got such a strong support network.

“I’ve got Shona just round the corner too, as well as our friends from the WW class.”

A former manager in her sister’s pub, The Tavern, Margaret had to give up work due to pain in her leg.

But, while she still has good and bad days, she has turned her life around.

She added: “I am loving life and have much more confidence now.

“So we’ll be continuing with the WW classes, even though Shona’s at her goal.

“We’ve made a lot of friends and we’re all on Facebook – we even meet up outwith classes.

“I’m proud that I’ve stuck to the plan and the results are obvious – both Katie and I fitted into my old pyjamas this Christmas!”

Lisa McDonald, who has coached Margaret, has nothing but praise for her.

She said: “Margaret is a truly inspirational member who supports and inspires her fellow members.

“She is a great example of what can be achieved when you put your mind to it.

“She’s always smiling and positive and rarely misses meetings. She’s brilliant.”