Debbie Dyson-Fussey was a size 26 at her heaviest and flew into a rage after revisiting her 2009 wedding snaps.
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As I turned the sausages and crisped up the bacon under the grill I called up to my husband, Paul, 37, to make sure he was ready for our fun-filled day out.
‘What better way to start the day than with a full English,’ I said, beaming over the feast before us.
‘When don’t we start the day like that?’ Paul replied – only half joking.
I laughed off the joke, as I always did when it came to comments about our ‘lifestyle choices’.
I wasn’t opening that can of worms – not today anyway – we were off to Cleethorpes seaside for a romantic day out.
I wasn’t a skinny girl, but I was happy. A husband who loved me and a job that I loved. Who cares if there was a bit more cushion for the pushing?
I threw on my coat, Paul in hand, and made my way to the bus stop.
It wasn’t exactly far away, but by the time we made it there I was light headed and short of breath.
‘Are you alright, love?’ Paul asked.
‘Of course I am, you know I’m not the fittest of the bunch!’ I replied, trying to mask my fear.
Tipping the scales at a whopping 26 stone and struggling to squeeze into a size 28 meant this wasn’t exactly a rare occurrence. At least I had Paul though, he loved me no matter what.
He put his hand out for the bus and before long we were on our way for the seaside.
Something wasn’t right though. I should have caught my breath back by now, but if anything it was really worse.
‘Paul, pass me that carrier bag… NOW,’ I said.
Before being able to ask why I was head first in the bag, chucking up this morning’s breakfast.
It’s safe to say it wasn’t the most romantic of journeys, and it didn’t get much better.
Paul knew something wasn’t right when I couldn’t even keep down a bite of my bacon and egg sandwich.
‘Let’s call it a day. You’re clearly not in any fit state for a trip to the beach,’ he said.
I didn’t bother trying to persuade him otherwise. He was right – something wasn’t right.
We got home and Paul went to put on the kettle.
‘A brew will sort you out,’ He said.
As the kettle whistled panic started to wash over me.
It suddenly felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest.
‘Paul! Paul, I can’t breathe!’ I said, the fear showing on my face. It felt like someone was strangling me.
Paul called an ambulance and within minutes it had arrived.
The last thing I remember is the paramedic standing over me. ‘It’s all going to be okay, Mrs Fussey,’ He said.
The next five weeks were spent in hospital: two in ICU, three in the outpatient ward.
Doctors diagnosed me with pneumonia and told me if I’d been admitted even a day later I would most likely be dead.
It was a tough five weeks and when I was discharged I could barely contain my excitement.
‘Home at last,’ I said, breathing a sigh of relief as I walked towards the front door.
You would have thought being admitted to hospital with pneumonia would be enough to convince me that something needed to change, but secretly I couldn’t wait to order a celebratory curry.
As I walked through the door that all changed.
The first thing to catch my eye as I entered the living room was the photo of Paul and I, on the day we renewed our vows.
The photo was not flattering to say the least, I was at my biggest then – I’m surprised I could even fit down the aisle.
It was so humiliating picking out the dress, I had to go to specialist who made custom dresses for ‘bigger brides’.
The dressmaker did her best to make me feel special, and I did, but as I waddled down the aisle all I could think about was I’d never be the beautiful bride I once dreamt of.
It should have been one of the happiest days of my life, instead I couldn’t help but feel fat and frumpy.
There and then the penny dropped: I couldn’t live like this anymore.
‘Something’s got to change,’ I told Paul. The realisation that my weight had nearly killed me sinking in.
‘I know…’ Paul said. ‘What are we going to do?’
Paul wasn’t as big as me, but he wasn’t exactly slim himself.
We’d met over 20 years ago and after years of being on-and-off we got together when I was 26, in 2007.
I’d always been a big girl but when I settled down with Paul my weight slowly started to spiral out of control.
We were having takeaways at least four times a week. Our favourite without a doubt was the local kebab shop.
They do a pizza and cheese burger deal that is out of this world: any 10in pizza of your choice and a cheeseburger with fries.
We’d have a deal each to ourselves at least once a week – I wasn’t sharing with Paul, I don’t do pineapple on pizza.
Soon the pounds piled on.
But as I looked at myself in the photograph, I knew that I couldn’t go on like this anymore.
I’d spent over a month in hospital!
The next day I enrolled in our local Slimming World.
‘Hang on,’ Paul said, as I walked out the door. ‘I’m coming too.’
The first weigh in was definitely the most daunting and frustrating.
‘Six pounds. Great start – well done Debbie!’ the consultant told me.
Before long we were swapping chippy dinner for homemade wedges and grilled fish.
We still enjoyed eating just as much as we did before – we just stopped being lazy when it comes tocooking – preparing healthy meals from scratch with fresh ingredients.
It’s not just our diet that changed, I even started exercising again.
‘Where are you off then?’ asked Paul.
‘To the leisure centre!’ I said, proudly putting the towel in my newly bought gym bag.
‘The leisure centre?’ Paul asked, shocked. ‘You’ve not been to a leisure centre since high school!’
‘I know,’ I said smugly, closing the door behind me.
I would never have dared to go swimming before shedding the weight, but now I was size 16 I felt I could do anything.
I was celebrating a whole six months of being at Slimming World and I’d lost ten stone. I felt and looked better than I had in two decades!
Shifting those pounds really has saved my life – and in more ways than one.
I know Paul will love me no matter what size I am, but we can finally go out and do things that proper couples should be doing.
‘I’m so proud of you,’ Paul said, over a healthy home-cooked bacon, squash and sweet potato stew. ‘I was thinking, let’s renew our vows.’
‘Again?’ I asked.
As the words came out of his mouth I knew it was a brilliant idea though.
I couldn’t wait to glide down the aisle towards him in a figure-hugging gown after the humiliation of almost getting stuck last time.
Sometimes when I’m tempted by a whopping cheeseburger with a pizza on the side all I have to do is look at the photo of me, renewing my vows to Paul, and it’s enough to put me off takeaways for life.
I didn’t want to remember marrying Paul that way.
‘Let’s do it!’ I replied.
I’ve lost ten stone and I’ve gone down from a size 28 to a size 14. I want to keep pushing on and get down to the perfect size 12 before our third big day. It’ll be the ultimate wedding diet!
Paul and I have our heart set on renewing our vows in 2019, our ten year wedding anniversary.
I can’t wait to walk down the aisle – and actually fit this time.
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