I’ve always struggled with my weight, whether too skinny or too fat, but for the last 10 years it’s been the latter. I tried everything, Weight Watchers, Slimming World, not eating… They worked short term, but I ended up putting back what I lost and even more. Then I got my wake-up call. Actually it was a number of signs that just added up over time until I reached my breaking point!
When I was pregnant with my second daughter, I was as big as a house! Everyone kept telling me, “You’re going to have a BIG baby!” It made sense. Being my second child, I’d been through pregnancy before with my gorgeous daughter Evie, so when I was this big this time around, it seemed the likely explanation, and I’d gotten used to the fact. Right up until the birth that is.
I was handed my beautiful little girl, Darcie, and she was tiny! She weighed only 5lbs!
To say I was surprised would be an understatement.
Following the birth, we were in and out of hospital with her until one visit when we got the words every parent dreads. Words that in any other setting would be welcomed with open arms, but when coming from the mouth of a medical professional, always spell bad news.
“Sit down, would you like a cup of tea?”
We were told that Darcie had Achondroplasia, a rare dwarfism. A disability so rare in fact she’s the only person in West Sussex with the condition. Like any mother, that kind of news was very difficult to deal with at the time, and sat in the surgery, my partner asked me what I wanted to do, and I replied, “I just want to get drunk!”
As it happens, she’s three now, she’s a very happy, healthy little girl, and I couldn’t imagine her any other way! But at that moment, it was life changing news. To hear any words other than, “Everything looks great” from a Doctor is every parent’s worst nightmare.
In 2010, I was finding it difficult to walk up the stairs, particularly carrying Darcie, and as we’ve previously established, she’s tiny! So something wasn’t right. Nine times out of ten, I’d end up doubled up in pain and Darcie would scream out for Daddy. What I later found out to be a hernia would be sticking out of my stomach, and I had to push it back in and breathe through it until I could get up again.
I went to see the Doctor, and after giving the official diagnosis, he gave me Codeine for the pain. But that wasn’t strong enough, so he pulled out the big guns and prescribed Morphine. I was supposed to take the Morphine to keep pain away, but as it turns out, they really knocked me out so I couldn’t take them because it meant I couldn’t look after the children.
I was put on the waiting list for an operation, but in the meantime, because of my hernia I couldn’t play with the girls, and I couldn’t lie down. For months I had to sleep in a chair!
Then my breaking point came. My kids would keep asking me if I had a baby in my tummy, which you brush off. They’re kids. I knew I was overweight, but surely it wasn’t that bad. Then I went on holiday in 2011 with my two girls and my partner Simon. He took a picture of me on the beach, and oh my God, I looked nine months pregnant!
OK, maybe they were that bad. With everything else going on, I’d been burying my head in the sand. I never had my photo taken unless I was bending down behind my girls, or just from the neck up, and just wrote of my daughters’ comments as child chatter!
This very rare picture, and my girls, was my inspiration. I’d had enough. I needed to take control of my weight.
Like I said. I’d tried diets. I knew they didn’t work. The hernia also threw a massive barrier up. If I could hardly walk up the stairs, how was I supposed to exercise? I was on the waiting list for an operation, but with no set date, that could take months, possibly years.
I couldn’t wait. Something needed to be done now.
My saviour was Anthony from PW Physique and Fitness. He never judged me, when I first got on the scales and his reaction was, “We can do this.” I’d watched my friend shrink before my eyes under Anthony’s tutelage, so I took the plunge.
I was so determined, I needed to be fit. I couldn’t buy any nice clothes, and I had been lugging my fat carcass around long enough!
I immediately went shopping with Anthony’s healthy eating plan and decided that my family liked chocolate, etc. so I would still buy them some and discipline myself. Anthony had explained everything can be worked into a healthy diet, but I knew I had a long way to go and it wasn’t going to happen overnight. So I focused only on things that would push me forward. Cheese was my big vice, and you can eat very low fat cheese with this plan, but I decided that if I was going to do this I was going to do it properly! So no cheese at all.
The exercise was a different matter. I couldn’t do push-ups or dips at all, I mean, I struggled up the stairs! So how was I supposed to do this?
We took it slow, but Anthony knew exactly how to work with my limitations, pushed me a little bit harder each time, and before I knew it I was bashing out push-ups and dips like it was second nature. So through the shouting and moaning (which was me I might add!) I lost my first stone quickly, and then through consistency it has just steadily come off, amounting now to four stone, 13 inches off my waist, and 5 dress sizes!
I was feeling so good about my shape now, I’d even agreed to join Anthony and a team of his other clients to run an army assault course, called the Nuts challenge, to help them raise money for charity!
The funny thing is though, apart from my friend, I didn’t tell anyone I’d hired Anthony. For a long time in fact. I even kept it from my mum, until Evie blurted out, “Nanny, mummy’s got a Personal Trainer!”
I’d failed so many times up until now. I’d lose 4lbs and put on 10! So I wanted to keep it to myself, not jinx it!
When I went out, I hid in a big long quilted coat which was a size 20. Before I started losing weight, I could even wear it without a thick jumper underneath! I wore old clothes, big jumpers, and just tightened my belt as I went along which worked well for a while.
Throughout my weight loss, I was also driving up and down to London with Darcie to see a specialist for her condition, and these appointments became more and more frequent. Then about three months ago, I got a call out of the blue from the hospital saying they had a cancellation for the hernia operation, and did I want it. It was in two weeks, and, of course I jumped at it! I then went in for my pre-op, and was told they’d had another cancelation for the actual surgery the very next day! After waiting on the list for two years, suddenly two cancellations came at once!
The funny thing is, and it’s something I would never have believed if you’d told me two years ago, but the hardest thing about my operation was the fact I wasn’t allowed to exercise for two months, and I also couldn’t eat solid food for several weeks so I couldn’t stick to my eating plan that had become second nature. I was gutted!
Also, the surgery left me bloated for weeks. After losing over 10 inches from my waist, this was really difficult to deal with.
Anthony wrote out a new eating plan for me though, based around soups and shakes, so I could stick to my nutritional needs while following Doctor’s orders to stay off the solids.
Six weeks passed and I was given the OK to work out again, but the Nuts challenge was only a couple of weeks away, and I was told in no uncertain terms not to attempt it at this stage, which was disappointing.
I got back to working out though, and Anthony weighed me in for the first time since before my operation.
Tentatively I stepped on the scales. He assured me it would be OK, but with my post-op bloating, and the fact I’d effectively spent the last six weeks on my (much smaller, I’ll admit!) backside, I was convinced I’d have piled on the pounds.
As it turned out, by sticking to Anthony’s instructions while I recovered, I’d actually lost 6lbs! I thought it might be temporary weight loss, but to this day, I’ve kept it off, and under Anthony’s guidance, continued to lose weight!
I’ve come a long way from that person who’s own daughters thought was pregnant, and who couldn’t carry her young daughter up the stairs. I exercise 3-4 times per week now, and healthy eating comes naturally.
I ate loads over Christmas, and still managed to lose weight! I have lost the equivalent to my six year old daughter, and trying to carry her around for five minutes is heavy, and that’s what I would have carried around on my body. It’s mind blowing!
I’m fully in tune with my body now, and it’s OK if I go to a party, or have a bad day, my body can handle it and just start a new day.
I’m so converted to my new way of life, I even helped Anthony create a healthy valentines meal for his girlfriend which he even posted up on his blog. A year ago I would have told him to go get a kebab!
(Originally published in Power Living Magazine – Photos by Laura Brennan at Cherry Red Photography, Make-up by Sonia Martin at La Belle the Beauty Boutique, and styling by Gay Richardson at Style Me Confident)