A YO-YO dieter whose obesity almost resulted in her death during the birth of her son has turned her life around to lose more than 10 stone.
Mandy Coles, from Tavistock, weighed 22st 6lbs at her heaviest and, despite trying numerous weight loss fads, was unable to lose the weight and keep it off. It wasn’t until she joined a slimming group, making new friends and being supported by people in similar situations that her mindset changed and she saw the weight come off and stay off.
‘I was a chubby child and on the larger side as a teenager,’ she said. ‘As an emotional eater food has literally been my crutch and one that I have relied on heavily. As a teenager, I was subjected to bullying because of my weight and this only served to fuel my emotional eating and the weight slowly kept creeping on.’
Mandy said as an adult she embarked on the classic yo-yo dieting in desperation, trying everything from hypnotherapy, diet pills and milkshakes to very restrictive eating plans — all of which failed.
‘As a diabetes research nurse I know only too well the risks I was putting myself at by continuing my lifestyle in this way, yet I felt powerless to change it. The enormity of the risks I was putting myself at became a reality when I went into labour with my son and experienced a large haemorrhage which resulted in me being seriously unwell.
‘The fact was that I could have died there and then and it was clear to me that this was a direct result of my obesity. This should have spurred me on to make a change but suffering with post natal depression and dealing with recovering from major surgery and a new baby, I felt unable to deal with it. I then continued not to deal with it and buried my head in the sand.’
Mandy started 2016 feeling very low, with no confidence. In January of that year her colleagues persuaded her to join a work weight loss competition. She stepped on the scales for the first time in years and was shocked to weigh in at 22st 6lbs. She said the reality of her weight was ‘painful’ and spurred her on to start making some changes, including joining some local exercise classes. An advert for a ‘gravity bounce’ class caught her eye but she was told she was three stone over the maximum weight limit so was unable to take part.
‘That was the final kick I needed. I was determined that I would get to take part in that class, so I needed to lose the weight. Despite knowing that something had to change, knowing how to change it was the most daunting part.
‘As a busy 33-year-old mum of a very active toddler and a nurse, finding a way to lose weight and change my lifestyle that fitted in with my family and work seemed impossible. I discussed my dilemma with my good friend Louisa Williams and she suggested I attend a weight loss group with her.’
Mandy said she was worried that as a size 26-28 she would be judged and patronised going into the group but she felt the opposite.
She was told she could eat all the things she loved, with decent portions and she thought it as too good to be true. She began to make small changes to her diet and slowly added in more physical activity. Fifteen weeks later and she was three stone lighter and able to take part in the gravity bounce class she had been keen to join.
‘Slowly I kept swapping my food choices and increasing my physical activity and before I knew it I had easily embraced a whole new lifestyle.
‘My confidence was slowly building and I went from wanting to hide behind baggy clothes and false smiles to genuine happiness and clothes that showed off my new forming figure.
‘I had also formed the most beautiful friendships with the lovely members I met at the group. We share laughter and tears and the room is just full of love and encouragement.’
Mandy has had her ups and downs during her weight loss journey but has managed to stay on track rather than slipping back into old habits. Last summer her husband was diagnosed with incurable kidney cancer and had to have surgery to have his kidney removed, along with a separate surgery for a hernia repair. He has however recovered from his surgery and is doing well.
‘The old me would have face planted a box of chocolates and probably drunk a bottle of wine seeking to comfort the sheer feeling of despair. However, I remembered I now had a whole new extended family to lean on and prevent that happening so I reached out to the new friends that I made. They were simply amazing.
‘I was given a lot of love, support and encouragement to be kind to myself during a very tricky time.They helped me to see that in order to look after my little boy and support my husband I needed to be at my best and that meant continuing this journey, making positive changes to my life.’
Mandy has now exceeded her original weight loss target of 10 stone and is pleased with the positive impact it has had on her life.
‘Despite all the trials and tribulations that the last 16 months has thrown at me, here I am now 10st 12.5lbs lighter and I have reached my weight loss target. I have dropped from a size 26 to a size 10-12. I am wearing smaller clothes now than I was as a teenager! The journey has given me a whole new lease of life and a wish to never go back to being unhappy.
‘It has also had a positive impact on my role as a nurse, as it has given me new confidence to advise my patients and I have inspired many of them to lose weight themselves and take a massive step to improving their health.
‘My weight loss has opened many doors of opportunity with the new found confidence I have gained. I am finally achieving my dreams and most importantly enjoying being able to run around with my little boy.’
See Slimming World advert on page 7 of this week’s Times for more information.