A Kendal woman who works in a mortuary run by University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) says her son has inspired her to lose half her body weight in just two years.
Mikala Barsby, a Senior Anatomical Pathology Technician who is based at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI), has slimmed down from 24 stones to 12 stones.
Mikala, 39, from Kendal, says her son Kian Barsby, 15, a pupil at Kirkbie Kendal School, is the reason she decided to join Slimming World. Kian and Mikala joined Slimming World on June 29, 2017, and they haven’t looked back since.
Mikala said: “Everything I have done is for my son. Kian was a 13-year-old, 6ft, 16 stones rugby player; he was always a big lad as a child.
“He told me he wanted to slim down and get fit. I have always said I will be beside him holding his hand when he needs me the most or behind him cheering him on through life. I knew this was the time to stand beside and hold his hand and help him, so we decided to go to Slimming World in Kendal.
“My sister-in-law, Jenny Barsby, who works as a Ward Clerk at Westmorland General Hospital, also went to the Slimming World group so we all supported each other. The Consultant of the group, Helen ‘Fergie’ McGowan, was amazing and without her I am not sure Kian would have taken to it like he did. In just under a year Kian lost four stones and I lost eight stones. We couldn’t have done it without Fergie. We both attend the Slimming World group every week and are now part of the social team helping out.
“All of Kian’s friends know he goes to Slimming World and he’s proud of it. He’s now maintaining a three stones weight loss because he has grown to 6ft 3ins. He’s about 13 stones and is very fit and healthy. He plays rugby for Kendal Under 16s and I am the team’s manager. He also plays for the county and for his school team.”
Mikala said she had never felt the need to lose weight and didn’t feel ashamed of being overweight.
She explained: “I was bullied at school because I was overweight but my parents showed me unconditional love. I was brought up to love myself and to believe in myself. It was just small-minded people. They probably had issues in their own lives to go on and bully me in that way.
“I have brought Kian up to love himself. I’ve always encouraged him to follow his dreams just like I did myself. His dream is to be a policeman and I will support him every way I can to help him achieve this. He is very proud to be a cadet in the Cumbria police cadets.”
Losing weight has been a positive thing for Mikala: “I always felt healthy enough, I never felt unfit and my blood pressure was normal. I had been overweight since I was seven or eight years old and my parents were overweight. I never knew life any different.
“What I would say is that my dad and mum both had health problems. My dad passed away in 2002 aged 60. He was a double amputee, insulin-dependent diabetic and he had heart problems. My mum is also a diabetic with heart problems. I think as I got older, because I was only a stone away from my dad’s weight, I would probably have developed health problems eventually especially with heart problems and diabetes in both sides of my family. I know have definitely helped myself by losing weight.
“We joined Slimming World on June 29, 2017, which was also the 15th anniversary of my dad’s death so that date is particularly significant to me.”
Mikala says she has changed the way she eats but she and Kian still enjoy some treats: “We still have take-aways, although I do prefer “fakeaways” recommended by Slimming World now and Kian still has sweets or chocolates when he wants. It is a lifestyle change not a diet to us, so nothing is forbidden.
“We’ve changed how we cook and I do almost everything from fresh. I now make time to cook, and we eat a wide variety of healthy foods. I use low fat meat and we eat a lot of vegetables, salad and fruit with our meals. Now we’re maintaining our weight and staying healthy.”
Mikala also goes for four-mile walks with her dog and niece and is a fan of Boogie Bounce trampoline-based fitness routines in Kendal.
Her work at the Mortuary for UHMBT means a lot to her and she has been working in this field for 18 years.
She said: “I love my job. It’s a very responsible job – it’s the last thing you can do for someone and their families. I treat everyone with dignity and respect, no matter what. Everyone deserves dignity and respect.
“We have very high standards and take pride in that. We are a great team who support each other. Working in the Mortuary does open your eyes. I tell my son I love him and hug him every day because you never know what will happen. I tell him to never live on regrets, to do what makes him happy no matter what. So many times I hear the “if only” or “what if”, life is too short, let the ones you love know how you feel!”
Mikala got through to the national semi-final of Slimming World’s Woman of the Year 2019 on October 6 in Alfreton, Derbyshire. She was shortlisted to the final 35 women from winning the North West regional finals in Preston in September along with two other women.
To get there she had been voted by her group as Woman of the Year 2019. She had also been Woman of the Year 2018. She has been Slimmer of the Week 14 times. She has also been Slimmer of the Month six times and was her group’s Miss Slinky 2018, Greatest loser 2018 and 2019.
At the national semi-final Mikala met reality TV show star, Jake Quickenden, who appeared on I’m a Celebrity: Get Me Out of Here, The X Factor and Dancing on Ice.
Mikala said: “I’m not upset that I didn’t get through to the final. I am proud to be one of the final 35 amazing inspirational women.
“There were some very inspirational women in the final who had some very sad stories to tell. I wish the final three women good luck in the final and to enjoy the final’s ball in November.
“I met some lovely women and the Slimming World staff were fantastic. It was such a lovely day and I was proud to be part of it. Huge thanks go to my consultant Fergie for all her support throughout, my family for their continued love and support and all the love and support I receive from my group members, friends and colleagues.
“People often come up to me or message me and say how inspired they feel when they look at what I have done. It’s partly because I’m stubborn. I won’t let something beat me. That’s what keeps me going. People look at me and know that the weight loss is achievable when you try.
“At the end of the day, everything I’ve done is for my son. He makes me so proud. He is and always will be my inspiration.”
Mikala says she would be happy to help any members of UHMBT staff who have questions about losing weight. She can be contacted on her work email.