In the final part of our series on Lancashire’s eating habits, AASMA DAY speaks to two super-slimmers.
Hearing childhood taunts for being overweight throughout her school years was a common occurrence for Michelle Wilson but she covered up her hurt by being loud and acting silly.
Michelle always vowed to start a diet tomorrow but tomorrow never came - until she saw an unflattering photograph of herself and decided enough was enough.
Michelle, 37, who lives in Bamber Bridge and is married to Rob and has a 10-year-old daughter, explains: “In my head, I thought I looked okay and was a reasonable size.
“But a friend took a photograph of me and when I saw the picture, I couldn’t believe how horrible it was.
“All I could see was this glowing, shining short round person.
“I weighed 14-and-a-half stones at the time but this was a lot as I am only 5ft and half-an-inch.
“I had always known I was bigger and in school, I used to get called names such as Meatloaf and Fatty.
“But I had never really lost weight for long.
“My daughter was born through IVF and I had to lose weight before I had the treatment and I lost two stones then. However, I put it all back on after she was born.
“I tried various diets over the years and my weight yo-yoed, but I always ended up putting it back on.”
Michelle joined Slimming World and has now lost an amazing four stones and eight-and-a-half pounds and is determined to lose another half stone.
Michelle also joined a pole fitness class.
Michelle explains: “I joined a mum’s cheerleading team at Tracey Rigby Dance and Fitness in Leyland where my daughter dances and gradually as the weight came off, I did more.
“It got easier as I got fitter and I joined the pole fitness class.
“There is a lot of stigma attached to pole dancing and people automatically associate it with seedy bars and skimpy clothes - or no clothes!
“But there is nothing sexy about it - not when I’m doing it anyway! I am now a Slimming World consultant and it is a way of life for me.
“Joining Slimming World and taking up pole dancing has made an amazing difference to my life. I would love to help others feel the same.”
Fellow slimmer Joanne Shaw’s problems started when she was a teenager. Doctors diagnosed her with polycystic ovaries and warned that the condition could lead to her putting on weight.
Joanne, 40, who lives in Bamber Bridge with partner Alan Catterall and is a mum-of-three and step-mum-of-two, recalls: “I just took it as a passport to eat as much as I wanted and the weight kept going on.
“But the bigger I got, the worse the polycystic ovaries got.
“Then when I was 22, I was told I would not be able to have children.
“They told me I would have to start losing weight and then they would try me for fertility treatment.”
Joanne weighed about 17 stones at the age of 22 and was with her ex-husband at the time. They had fertility treatment and it worked and Joanne gave birth to boy and girl twins who are now 17. However, after that, she ballooned to 23 stones.
Joanne suffered three miscarriages which led to her becoming depressed and eating even more and she went up to 25-and-a-half stones.
Joanne then had an appointment at the hospital about her weight but because she was too heavy for the ordinary scales, hospital bosses sent her to the laundry room to get weighed as they scales for the laundry able to take much higher loads.
Joanne remembers: “I remember I felt so humiliated for about three days afterwards that I did not even want to get out of bed.”
Joanne joined Slimming World in 2001 and began losing weight with them . Then in 2002, she became pregnant with another son naturally and gave birth to him.
She then tried lots of different diets and her weight fluctuated dramatically. She lost around 32 stones in total but it was all on and off.
Joanne says: “I did lose about eight stones in one go and I met someone new. But then we split up so the weight went back on.”
However, Joanne then decided she wanted to lose weight for good and joined Slimming World and embarked on a new regime of healthy eating and portion control.
Joanne now weighs 12 stones 6lbs and has lost an amazing 13-and-a-half stones and has dropped from a size 32 to a size 14.
However, she is still aiming for her target of 10 stones 3lb.
Joanne can still remember one of the key moments which led to her realising she needed to lose weight.
She says: “We were on a flight to Benidorm.
“I could not fasten my seatbelt and had squeezed myself into the seat with difficulty.
“The stewardess came and pressed the buzzer and bellowed: ‘A lap belt please for the larger lady’.
“It was so humiliating and it ruined my holiday because I was dreading the flight back.
“Now I have lost weight, I feel so much happier and more confident.
“I was on anti-depressants for seven years.
“Now, I get up in the mornings and want to do things whereas before, I did not have the energy to do anything.”
Joanne is now a team development manager for Slimming World in Preston.