Out of breath, I struggled down the walkway of the soft play area. ‘Freddie wait for mummy!’ I called out to my 18-month-old son. He looked back giggling, ‘Hurry mummy!’
I turned to my cousin Charlotte as she also tried to catch her toddler Lola. ‘I don’t know how I’m ever going to keep up with him,’ I said. Charlotte laughed, ‘Tell me about it!’ We were both chasing our children through the Crazy Knights soft play centre near my home in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.
Standing between some netted walls, I spotted two rollers ahead of me. Trying to squeeze my size 24 body through, I was stunned when I suddenly couldn’t move. ‘Oh my God I’m stuck!’ I shouted. Charlotte looked at me and burst out laughing.
I was secretly panicking, but trying to hide my embarrassment with a smile and a joke. ‘Woman down!’ I chuckled. ‘Carry on Charlotte.’ ‘I can help,’ Charlotte offered as she walked toward me.
Mortified, I refused to let her try to set me lose and after a few minutes I was starting to worry. Luckily I managed to wedge myself free. I couldn’t believe I had been trapped by two rollers. Despite my size I never really focused on my weight. Growing up I was a slim size 10 until I left school.
I started college and cooking for myself led to an unhealthy habit of McDonalds, takeaways and easy ready meals. Most weeks I would gorge on a large Big Mac meal four times a week. I loved pizza, crisps, chips and full fat fizzy drinks. Within twelve months of leaving college and starting work as a travel agent I had swelled to a size 18. But because I could still buy clothes at the shops alarm bells didn’t really ring.
I wouldn’t say I was happy with my weight, but I wasn’t trying every diet I could find either. I met my partner Mark, 30, in 2006 and my size was never an issue for him. He loved me no matter my weight, which helped me feel content in my bigger body.
But in 2010 I fell pregnant and suffered complications from gestational diabetes. I was put on a very strict diet and actually lost weight during my pregnancy. Freddie was born in July 2011 weighing, 8lb 8oz and I weighed less than 15 stone.
Instead of carrying on with my weight loss, I went right back to my old ways. Being on maternity leave with a newborn and staying home all day were factors too. I was eating rubbish and my weight started to rise. Within a year I had grown to a size 24 and weighed eighteen-and-a-half stone!
I remember it was Freddie’s christening in May 2012 when I went shopping for a new dress. Nothing fit.
When I got home I moaned to Mark, ‘I have no clothes! And nothing fits me anyways. I’m going to look like a cow!’ Mark said, ‘Don’t be silly you are beautiful Emma no matter what you are wearing.’ ‘But I wanted a new dress for Freddie’s christening. It’s a special day.’ ‘Why don’t you wear that red dress you have?’ he asked. ‘Because I’ve worn it to the last three parties we’ve gone to,’ I cried. ‘It’s the only thing that fits now that I’m so fat!’ In the end I had to wear the red dress…again.
My turning point was in December 2012 when Charlotte and I took the kids to the soft play centre. We planned to spend the whole day chasing Freddie and Lola around. But I was constantly out of breath. When I got stuck between the two rollers I realised I couldn’t even carry on through indoor play zone.
I had to watch as Charlotte took Freddie down the slide and tumbled through the tunnels because I was too fat to fit. ‘I feel like such a bad mum,’ I mumbled to Charlotte. ‘No Emma, don’t think that,’ she tried to soothe. ‘You’re a great mum!
‘Those slides are flimsy anyways. I’m surprised my bum didn’t break it.’ But I still felt terrible when I got home. Enough was enough and I decided to do something about my weight. I joined Slimming World in January 2013.
At my first meeting I was so nervous, but there were loads of new joiners so I wasn’t the only fresh face. When I stepped on the scale I was shocked speechless. I weighed almost 19 stone! Maybe I had been in denial. I hadn’t thought it would be that high.
I figured if I was going to diet I was going to do it properly. I portioned everything and ate healthy meals and snacks. Throwing out all the ready meals piling up in my fridge, I started cooking from scratch. Staying very strict with myself, I followed the food plans.
For exercise I started walking everywhere. I can’t drive and before I would book taxies for everything. Now, if the distance is manageable, I walk it. I also started swimming.
The weight just melted off. Within a month I lost a stone, which encouraged me to keep going. By the end of the year I had shed a massive seven-and-a-half stone and a slinky size 12! The first time I went out shopping and could fit in normal clothes again I nearly cried. And Mark loves the sexy new me. He is a chef and even though he cooks some yummy food, he is so supportive of my new lifestyle.
And my energy levels are incredible. I can run after Freddie for hours and even go outside to kick the football around with him – something I never thought I would do. A few months ago I actually met up with my close friend Rebecca who moved away. I had not seen her since I started Slimming World so she had no clue I was half the woman I used to be. When we sat having a coffee she had tears in her eyes as she said, ‘Oh Emma we were all so worried about you. ‘You had gained so much weight. But you look amazing now! I just can’t believe it.’ I asked, ‘Why didn’t anyone ever say anything?’ Rebecca replied, ‘Well it’s not easy to find a way to tell your friend she’s gotten fat and you are scared for her health is it?’
I laughed, ‘You have a point.’ And she truly did. As embarrassing as getting stuck in a kiddie play area was for me, I’m so grateful it happened.
To find your nearest Slimming World group call 0844 897 8000 or log on to www.slimmingworld.com
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