Meet the ‘FAST’ women who lost over 2.5 stone in lockdown and are here to inspire you to do the same

Alarming statistics have revealed that Northern Ireland tops the UK’s obesity charts, with over 63 per cent of people now classed as overweight or obese. 

This is a genuine health crisis as excess weight increases the risk of several diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, cancer and reduced life expectancy. These shocking figures reveal that traditional methods of managing diet for health clearly prove a challenge for many and put the NHS under further strain. 

Compounded by the enforced sedentary lifestyle of lockdown, increasing obesity is not unique to Northern Ireland. Globally,health professionals are urgently seeking alternative answers to help those struggling to maintain a healthy weight.

A recent study by expert researchers at Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California concluded people who are trying to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle should pay more attention to when they eat as well as what they eat.

The award-winning Cinch Clinic in Holywood is ahead of the game to bring this new approach to Northern Ireland. The fat loss and aesthetics specialist is celebrating the six-month milestone of its hugely successful Cinch FAST 30 program this week. This easy to manage and fully supported online plan introduces the concept of intermittent fasting for weight loss and overall improvements in health.

Since its launch, the FAST 30 program has helped over 300 women in Northern Ireland, Ireland, UK, and even the US take back control of their lifestyle, helping them lose weight, boost confidence and improve their overall health. 

The simple 30-day eating management program was launched earlier this year by local entrepreneurs Angela Hunter and Nicola McIlhagger. Like so many of us, the Belfast businesswomen struggled with weight gained during lockdown last year and searched for effective and practical solutions that fit with their busy lifestyles.

Following extensive personal research exploring clinically-researched methods that are seeing real results, the determined duo developed their own unique plan based on intermittent fasting. This is when you move between eating and voluntary fasting in a specific time frame. 

The results speak for themselves: they lost a combined two and a half stone using the new approach. They are now enthusiastic about sharing their program with others struggling to reach or maintain a healthy weight.

Angela explained: “We experienced first-hand the repercussions of lockdown not only on our mental health but on our waistlines. Nicola and I were frustrated as we were both exercising regularly, but the scales never moved or improved.”

“When forced into lockdown, there were constant snacks, BBQs, party and comfort food. Then I saw a photo of myself that Autumn and I knew I needed to control my weight. In truth, I had been struggling to reach a healthy weight over the last decade since I had my children. Heart disease and stroke are big in my family, so I knew that it was crucial to reduce my weight and my risk as I turned 40.”

Of course, recognising the problem and knowing the risks associated with excess weight is one thing, but finding the motivation and a solution to it is more difficult. Angela’s moment of inspiration came when she met a friend who was glowing with health.

“Last October, I met a friend I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic. She looked completely different, younger, fitter, leaner and revealed she had lost almost three stones through intermittent fasting,” Angela continued.

“I was a little sceptical as I love my food but intrigued to find out more, so I set about doing my own research. I immersed myself in every book, article, medical study, testimonial and claim I could find. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Study after study convinced me intermittent fasting can actually help improve health and help drop the excess pounds.”

IF is based on the theory that during fasting periods, the body has a chance to heal. Insulin production is reduced, encouraging the body to use energy in stored fat cells. Short periods of fasting also help promote autophagy, which is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells to regenerate newer, healthier cells.

Angela said: “I started my IF journey on November 1, 2020, and steadily lost weight week-after-week. I still enjoyed my food; I just ate it within a specific time frame every day and mixed the timings up daily to suit my diary.

She continued: “We all know that the foods we eat daily drastically affect our physical, mental, and emotional health. What is less known is that the amount of time we spend eating them affects our health. Intermittent fasting gives us back control. It teaches us that there is no need to reach for a snack out of habit or boredom. It is a highly effective lifestyle choice for weight management and to reduce our risk of serious diseases.

Angela lost a total of 26lbs and dropped from a size 12 to a size 8. 

“Because it’s a whole new way of thinking about diet management, it is so important to have informed support but this was the first program I’d been able to stick to in ten years. Now, 11 months on, despite reaching my goal weight, I am at the maintenance stage. I still do intermittent fasting daily. For me, it provides clarity, it provides a brain and energy boost and reduces inflammation in my stomach, ” she added.

Having seen the results, in early December 2020 Nicola also began to practice IF. She began to lose weight and shed 8lbs in the first month. However, she found even more significant benefit in the ease of her Endometriosis symptoms.

Once Angela and Nicola realised the incredible benefits of IF and the fantastic results they had achieved, they were compelled to spread the word as many friends and relatives were worried about weight gain and asking how they could get involved.  

This resulted in the creation of the Cinch FAST 30 – a 30 Day Fat Loss program. This online course offers a series of five E-books, video tutorials, recipe ideas, meal plans and workout videos. Following the first-hand experiences of both founders, it’s an education in how and why to consider eating in a time-restricted window.

Nicola said: “We compiled our learning and personal experiences into an online program to help others to take control of their lifestyle, lose weight and boost their overall health, and the results have been absolutely staggering.

“When we launched this in early May 2020, we had no idea the huge positive impact this would make on people’s lives and health. We trialled our program with 30 participants and were blown away by the feedback and results. Not only did they benefit from significant weight loss, but they also reported they felt better than they had done in years.

“The program works for both men and women, and the average weight loss is 9lbs in the first month. Amazingly, the participants report feeling better than they have in years. It’s very gradual and managed. There’s no strict or extended fasting and no-calorie reduction or counting. Instead, all of our Challengers choose their own daily eating window based on mood, feeling, cycle, stress levels, how they slept the night before, their diary, etc. It is highly flexible and not prescriptive or restrictive. It puts the Challenger in complete control. I believe this is why we have had such a tremendous success rate.

Nicola added: “This is not a quick-fix diet. The 30-day challenge is just the beginning of a lifestyle change. We give people these tools for life, with many people reporting that this has changed their life.”

Results for Cinch FAST 30 participants are tangible, measurable and based on recognised scientific principles. However, Angela and Nicola feel it’s important to say they are not health professionals, dieticians or nutritionists.

 “The Cinch FAST 30 is a first-hand account of our experience with intermittent fasting. We stress that we are not doctors and don’t claim to be,” Angela added.

“But this is an excellent introduction to IF. Our course carefully explains who should try it and how and why to do it safely. Most importantly, it provides support and accountability in the closed Facebook and WhatsApp Group and from us as coaches and mentors. 

“We have designed our program to inform and educate. We support and guide through friendship and provide inspiration with delicious recipes and exercise workouts. Most importantly, we offer accountability and peer-to-peer support.

“However, we recognise this program is not for everyone – especially anyone with underlying health conditions. It’s also not suitable for anyone underweight or who has a current or previous history of an eating disorder. Nor is it suitable if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to get pregnant. It’s also not for over 70s or under 18s. As with all diet or lifestyle changes, we advise all participants to check with their doctor before embarking on our program. 

“However, our course has worked for our current Challengers and us. We know it’s a fantastic option for many people who are struggling with their weight. We are excited to be welcoming new Challengers daily. We want to spread the word and help as many people as we can learn and understand how intermittent fasting works and how it can potentially help change their life. 

“Our March Challenge is now underway, and we have been inundated with enquiries and new sign-ups. As it’s an online course, people can start anytime they want and don’t have to wait until the start of the month to begin. We are there to support Challengers every step of the way!”


You can sign up for the Cinch FAST 30 program at www.cinchfast30.com – prices start at £49.99.


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