A size 24 carer who battled with weight issues for years was so determined to be fit at 40 that she shed six stone, conquered her food demons and landed a job as a weight loss coach.
Amy Rowlands, now 41, says her confidence "hit rock bottom" and decided things had to change.
Amy, of Grimsby, Lincolnshire, managed to drop five dress sizes in seven months after joining a WW slimming group and even landed a job helping other dieters to lose weight.
A carer for her partner Neil Armstrong, 44, who has a long-term illness, she was unhappy with her weight as she approached her 40th birthday.
Now at 5ft 9in, weighing 13st 4lb and wearing a size 14, Amy, who has four stepchildren said: When I reached 19-and-a-half stone, I stopped caring and didnt look after myself.
I would never look in the mirror and my confidence was at rock bottom.
I put my life on hold. I would say to myself, Well Ill go for a new job when I lose weight.
Amy continued: I used to sing in a band and I stopped that, but told myself Id do it again after Id lost weight.
I would bury my head in the sand. People around me would gently try and tell me I should lose weight, but I would just brush it off.
Amys unhealthy relationship with food started when she was aged just 12 and gained some puppy fat prompting her to try and lose weight and leading to a two year battle with the disease anorexia nervosa, starting when she was 13.
My weight problems spiralled out of control and I would go from one extreme to another, she recalled.
I weighed five stone, and after being admitted into a special unit for teenagers, that helped me get sorted.
After having anorexia, I went the other way and gained more and more weight.
She said: Then, in my 20s, I managed to lose seven stone through dieting.
But I put it back on again, and in my 30s went up to more than 20 stone losing nine stone again through dieting, before putting it all back on.
It would never stay off. Life would get in the way and I would pile the pounds back on. I would be in denial about how big I was getting and my weight just spiralled out of control.
Eating calorie-laden food like pizza, as well as snacking on chocolate and crisps, with scant regard for portion control, did not help.
Amy said: I would eat six biscuits as a mid-morning snack and a family sized bag of kettle chips in the evening after dinner.
I also used to drink a bottle of wine a night.
With a body mass index (BMI) used to gauge a healthy weight of 40.4, compared to the NHS recommended range of between 18.5 and 24.9, Amy was classed as obese.
But as her 30s drew to a close, weighing 19-and-a-half stone and wearing a dress size 24, she was determined not to be fat at 40.
And when her partner spent a month in hospital with a chest infection, it served as a real wake-up call, forcing Amy to look closely at her own health.
As soon as he was discharged, I thought, Im not putting it off anymore. I have to sort myself out. It was a wake-up call for me, she said.
I joined WW and started to reduce my calories using the points-based system. It was about changing my lifestyle. Im an all or nothing person so took it very seriously.
I started to lose weight quite quickly about five or six pounds in the first week, which spurred me on.
She added: I felt in control of something, because I could see the results from the changes Id made.
Within seven or eight months I looked and felt like a different person. It was amazing.
By January this year Id lost 6st 3lb and now weigh 13st 4lb and wear a size 14. Im hoping to get to my goal weight of 10st 7lb by the end of the summer.
As an added incentive, Amy put a pound in a jar for every pound in weight she lost, meaning she could soon treat herself to a brand new wardrobe.
When youre bigger you dress for your size rather than your taste or style, but when youre smaller you dress for yourself, she said.
My confidence has really grown. I can look in the mirror with pride.
I enjoy getting dressed up and going out when, before I lost weight, I would make an excuse not to go out, Amy explained.
Best of all, losing weight has given Amy a marvellous new work opportunity.
She said: Id been caring for my partner full-time, but I think I was also using that as an excuse, because I didnt have the confidence to go out to work.
Amy added: In the New Year, my WW coach asked if Id ever thought about becoming a coach myself, so I did as I really wanted to share my story and encourage others.
I find it really rewarding and I know it makes such a difference when youre being coached by someone who has been through the same thing.
Now Amy sticks to healthy meals, eating porridge for breakfast and chicken or fish for dinner, as well as working out three times a week.
I have an exercise machine at home, she said. I also have a fitness hula hoop and will do home workouts three times a week, as well as taking our Golden Labrador dog Whammo for a walk.
Now I want other people to know that whatever has happened, they can change, too.
Today I have a bounce in my step. Before losing weight, I felt so sluggish, but Ive got loads of energy now.
She said: I dont think you realise how much that extra weight impacts on your life until you lose it.
I used to wear a coat 12 months of the year, just to cover up my body, but not anymore.
I cant wait to wear shorts in the summer even if its just to go in the garden.
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How a carer lost six stone and conquered her demons - Cambridgeshire Live
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