A woman has shared her incredible weight loss journey which saw her shed almost 12st (76kg), after being left feeling embarrassed about getting stuck in a chair due to her size.
At her heaviest, in 2018, Joanne Taylor, 47, from North Allerton, North Yorkshire, weighed 21st 9lbs (137kg) and had a body mass index (BMI), used to gauge a healthy weight, of 53.6 – compared to the NHS healthy range from 18.5 to 24.9.
While she says she was “never big” growing up, Taylor said her weight slowly crept up after the birth of her elder son Luke, now 29, and her size continued to increase after welcoming her three other sons, Mason, 27, Liam, 23, and Ross, 21.
“I got bigger after I had my first son,” she explains. “I was 18, and everything just dive-bombed from there. It was all up and down.”
Suffering from anxiety and depression, the mum-of-four and grandmother-of-four, turned to comfort eating, admitting that she loved “anything fried or fatty”, with battered sausages and kebab takeaways being her favorite meals.
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“I just kept eating and eating and never knew when to stop,” she adds. “I had three meals, and whatever in between.
“I only felt good when I was eating.”
Her weight also contributed to her not wanting to leave home as she received some negative comments about her size.
“I was very withdrawn and I didn’t like going out,” she says.
“People used to insult me, call me ‘fatty’ and much worse, so I just avoided going out.”
The turning point came in the summer of 2018 when she was left feeling humiliated after she got stuck in a fold-up patio chair, which served as the wake-up call she needed to get fit.
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Taylor realized she had to make a change in her life or she wouldn’t be able to see her grandchildren grow up.
“I was really determined to become healthier and lose the weight – I needed to do it for me and for my grandkids,” she explains.
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After nearly 20 years of unsuccessful dieting, Taylor joined Weight Watchers (WW), threw herself into meal prepping and counting calories and, within a year, had lost 10st.
“I tracked everything I was eating,” she explains. “I weighed my food. I got the lower fat bread and crisps and pulled away from chocolates.
“It was tough at first to cut down on the food, but I told myself I had to carry on.”
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Being part of a community of people encouraging each other to lose weight each week and stick to it, was also a major factor in her weight loss.
Now, having lost 11st 13lb (76kg) and dropped from a size 22 to a size 8, Taylor weighs 9st 10lb (62kg) and has a healthy BMI of 24.1, which has really boosted her body confidence.
“I am so proud and over the moon about how far I have come,” she says.
“I am in shock when I walk by windows in a shop, see my reflection, and wonder who is that. I have to look back again, and it’s me.
“I can sit in chairs now and I’ve got gaps on either side.
“I feel healthy and I feel good.”
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Taylor’s transformation meant she had to throw out all of her baggy tops and elasticated leggings, which she had relied on for two decades.
“I had to buy loads of new clothes to fit my new body,” she says.
“I lived in massive t-shirts and elasticated bottoms. If I tried to wear one of those tops now, it would be like a tent.
“I bought dresses, smaller jeans, and I am wearing mini skirts again which I can’t remember when I last wore.”
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Most importantly, her newfound energy also allows her to play with her grandchildren, which is something she felt she couldn’t do before.
“I can take my grandkids out for walks, sit on the floor and play and run about,” she adds.
“I can watch them grow up.
“That’s what has pushed me to keep going, because I want to watch them grow up.”
Additional reporting PA Real Life.