As the fire alarm rattled through the building, I squashed myself into the toilet cubicle and held my breath. It would stop in a minute and then I could make my way back to the production floor before anyone
noticed I was missing.
I was sure it was a false alarm, but what if…? It was crazy hiding in the loos. Still, what other choice did I have? In the event of a fire alarm we weren’t allowed to use the lift and there was no way I could
haul my 25 stone bulk all the way down the eight flights of stairs into the car
The last time I attempted it my legs went wobbly, I had to stop halfway and was doubled over gasping for breath. I was so embarrassed I wanted to die. So rather than face the
humiliation of my colleagues again I decided I’d stay here and hedge my bets.
Luckily, seconds later the ringing stopped and, squishing myself against the wall, I managed to squeeze through the narrow doorand back onto the factory floor.
‘Close call, eh?’ Dan laughed as I told him all about that evening as I tucked into a huge omelette oozing with melted cheese and checked my Twitter feed on my phone.
I followed a teenage girl called Alice Pyne. She was battling terminal cancer and was a real inspiration to me. She’d made a bucket list of things she wanted to achieve before she lost her fight. Number
one was to get more people to join the bone marrow register. I decided I would look into it. After all, it was the least I could do.
Only later that week when I tried to join I was told I had to have a BMI of under 40 and at a size 32 stone and clinically obese, mine was way, way above that. Devastated, I hung up the phone and burst
into tears. All Alice was going through and I couldn’t even do that one simple thing…what sort of a person was I?
I’d struggled with my weight ever since I was a child. At school I’d do anything to avoid PE and gradually piled on the pounds as Mum served up super-sized portions for dinner. By the time I was 17 I was
already a dress size 18. My confidence hit rock bottom as all my friends started getting attention from boys but no one spoke to me unless it was to make a nasty comment.
So when, finally someone did take an interest, I was over the moon. In my heart I knew he wasn’t Mr Right but I worried I was so fat no one else would ever want me. ‘It’s now or never’, I told myself as I waddled down the aisle.
Unsurprisingly it didn’t work out. We separated andafter some time alone, I met Dan. We hit it off straight away. But as our happiness
grew so did my waistline.
A vegetarian, I kidded myself I was eating healthily. But in reality, the truth was very different. My love of cheese
meant I could eat up to a block a day sliced into huge hunks of French bread or melted over pasta.
I’d been a curvaceous 17 stone when Dan I first met but now I was much, much bigger. And I wasn’t the only one. Since meeting me, cosy nights in sharing takeway pizzas and family bags of crisps and chocolate meant Dan’s
waistline had rapidly expanded, too. In the four years we’d been together I’d gained seven stone and he, four.
‘It doesn’t matter,’ Dan would tell me. ‘I think youlook beautiful just he way you are.’
But it mattered to me. By the time I was bursting out of the 52 inch waist work trousers I wore as part of my uniform at the fizzy drink factory I knew I needed to do something about it. I was even
getting chest pains because of my size. Only, well…it just seemed like such hard work.
But being rejected from the bone marrow register, well it really took the wind out of me. I resolved to do something about it. If Alice could do all the things she could was whilst living with cancer,
losing weight should be a walk in the park. Buoyed with inspiration, later that week I waddled into my local church hall and joined Slimming World.
Seeing the scales flash up 25 stone my heart sank. How could I have let myself get so big? No wonder my body ached. But I was determined. I had two years until my 40th birthday and I was damn
sure I’d be 11 stone by then.
The next day I went shopping. Bypassing my usual family blocks of cheddar, I headed straight for the fruit and vegetables and piled my trolley high. Next came yogurts, fresh milk and healthy pasta, rice
and brown bread; after adding a few carefully chosen ‘treats’ on top, I was done.
I’d already tried and failed every crash diet under the sun. But I was determined this time would be different. But how…?
Then it came to me. I’d copy Alice and make a bucket list of my own; of all the reasons why I needed – and wanted – to lose weight.
Only as I sat down in front of my laptop I was stumped. Where to begin? But then I thought about all the times that my size had made me miserable. And soon, I was tapping away.
My face grew hot as I remembered the last time I’d gone to Mum and Dad’s for Sunday lunch and as I’d satdown to a plate piled high with meat, gravy and roast potatoes, the chair had
buckled beneath me. I’d ended up on the floor, legs flailing, and it had taken both Dad and Daniel to lift me up. I was mortified.
‘Don’t worry, those chairs probably needed replacing anyway,’ Dad blustered as tears rolled down my pudgy cheeks. But I knew they were just a few months old.
After that I made an effort to join Mum at her aqua-aerobics class. But even moderate physical activity left me red-faced and dripping with sweat – not a good look. Even worse, I had to bring my own super-sized bath sheet for afterwards. The normal ones the leisure centre provided were like flannels on me, reduced to thigh-high split towelling dress.
Clothes, of course, were a major issue. My wardrobe consisted of baggy black tops, stretchy leggings and a size-32 pair of jeans. I longed to be able to wear pretty underwear and tights and slip my feet into some sexy high heels but high street shops didn’t sell any big enough for my wobbly legs and meaty feet. And then there were the stunning vintage clothes I’d lust over but could never buy. But it wasn’t just going out clothes I craved; even
a snuggly onesie was off-limits – unless I wanted to look like a fleece marquee!
Foreign holidays were out of the question, too.
‘Why don’t we get away for a few days?’ Dan would ask. ‘Get away from it all.’
I shook my head. Not because I wasn’t up for it. No, I’d have loved a week in the sun. But I’d avoided travelling after I’d realised that after squeezing myself into a tiny seat that was so tight it left
welts on my more than ample hips, I also needed a seatbelt extender. Although the flight attendant was discreet, the smirks from the other travellers were too much to bear. I cringed in shame.
But soon I’d be flying to Cyprus for Mum and Dad’s 40th wedding anniversary – a trip I couldn’t get out of even if I’d wanted to. So I really had to lose weight. I wouldn’t put myself, or my family,
through that humiliation.
Ah yes, family… Mum was already so proud of me but I wanted to show her I could do this. I wanted to see my beautiful nieces Jenna and Carys grow up and make their way in the world; and I was fed-up of always
being the ‘fat sister’. And then there was Nan. She’d just celebrated her 95th birthday and I wanted to think that a healthy me would have a fighting chance
of celebrating such an amazing birthday myself…
Soon, I’d been typing for hours and had 18 reasons to lose weight. Yes it was a lot. But my size made me unhappy in so many ways. And the way I saw it, the more incentives there were, the better. Shedding 14 stone
of blubber wasn’t going to be easy.
I started taking pictures of my meals on my phone and posting them on an online blog I created – www.theslimmingworldfiles.com <http://www.theslimmingworldfiles.com/> . As the weight fell off I became more creative with my food choices and
my blog gained more followers. Soon I was getting 4000 views a day.
Knowing there were thousands of people keeping aneye on my meals gave me the extra encouragement to stick to healthy choices and my weight continued to drop. One stone, two stone, three stone, four…
Then, five months after I’d joined Slimming World, Alice died. It was so sad. She’d achieved so much in her short life and been an inspiration to many. I wrote about her on my blog, publicly promised that I
would get on the bone marrow register. And just a few weeks later, to my delight I discovered I was healthy enough to do so. It was a real coup. I began to realise the enormity of how my life was changing for the better, how much
those extra stones had held me back.
Seeing how well I was doing, Dan decided to join me.
I wasn’t surprised. As well as the practical difficulties of being such a big couple, we attracted attention on the street too. If we went out for a walk togethercars would often slow down so the drivers could yell abuse at us out of the
‘You fat buggers,’ teenagers would taunt as they waddled past on their way home from the takeaway.
We acted like it didn’t bother us but of course, itdid. No one should have to go through that.
So I was delighted Dan wanted to change his life too. Us both being in this together meant that we could encourage each otherthrough the difficult times. Not, to be honest, there were many of those.
The weight continued to slip off. Five, six, seven, sight stone down…
Having been big all my life I was used to hiding myself away, doing my best to blend into the background. But as my weight dropped I felt the real me, the me
that’s been hidden under layers of insecurity and fat since my teens, slowly but surely begin to reappear. And I liked how it felt.
‘It’s time I really started living,’ I told Dan. ‘Life’s too short. Alice has taught me that.’
I started buying bright, fun clothes, the 50s –style skirts and nipped-in blouses I’d looked at longingly for years. My Facebook page was filled with messages about how great I looked. Old friends did a
double-take, hardly recognising me.
‘You look amazing! You’re my inspiration!’ people would post on my blog.
I even started jogging – completed a 5km run. I could hardly believe it. This from the girl who couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without needing to sit down…
‘I’m so proud of you,’ Dan said.
I was proud of myself – and him, too. Of course a healthy bit of competition between us both helped keep us on track. We even kept a scoreboard in the kitchen of who had lost the most weight that week. The loser would have to cook dinner.
Now 20 months on, I’m 13 stone 10lb and a size 14 – 12 stone lighter than at my first meeting. Dan has reached his target weight of 13 stone – six stone lighter than when he started. Between us we’ve lost a
whopping 19 stone!
I’m on course to reach my goal of 11 stone by my 40th birthday next February and I’ve already ticked off many of the goals on my list. Sometimes it really is easier to see things written down in black and