A mum and daughter duo will be celebrating Mothers Day on Sunday by showing-off their fabulous new figures, after losing nearly nine stone between them and slimming down to sylph-like size eights.
Winning their very own battle of the bulge strengthened the bond between fine art student Elsie Spalding, 21, and her mother, childminder Tracey Spalding, 50, of Hertford, Hertfordshire, who were both a large size 16 at their heaviest.
Inspired by her mum, who was the first to fight her flab, Elsie recalled feeling beach fit for the first time ever this summer, saying: I was on holiday in Spain and wore a bikini for the first time in my life.
For Mum, losing weight has been a massive confidence boost, too, she added.
Gorging on pizzas, bacon sandwiches and biscuits had taken its toll on both womens waistlines when they finally realised they needed to take drastic action with 5ft 5in Tracey dropping from 12st 11lb to 9st 7lb and 5ft 3in Elsie going from 13st 13lb to 9st 2lb.
At her heaviest, Elsie had a body mass index (BMI) used to gauge a healthy weight of 34.5, compared to the NHS recommended range of 18.5 to 24.9, making her obese.
She said: I had an unhealthy relationship with food. If anything went wrong I would eat, or if I was happy I would eat.
I didnt think I could break this cycle and thought it would be like this for the rest of my life. But my mum made me feel differently and now we are closer than ever.
Hitting puberty at 14, Elsie said that from then onwards she just got fatter and fatter.
At 14, I was a size 12, so I wasnt really big, but compared to my friends who were a lot smaller, my size was noticeable. Still, I wasnt really bothered. I always felt quite confident and was never picked on.
When I got home from school Id just go in the cupboards and get biscuits or crisps and keep snacking.
At 16 and 17 I got worse. I was a size 16, sometimes wearing a size 18, and my friends were all a size eight.
Elsie continued: Then, when I went to university, I was doing my own food shopping, so it would be cheap pizzas and oven chips, packets of Supernoodles, or 99p burgers from McDonalds.
I was conscious of it, but I didnt really want to do anything about it. I did attempt diets, but it would die off and Id just carry on like before.
I used to be confident around my friends, but I started going into myself in front of other people, because Id worry about what I looked like. That was quite difficult.
A few months after she started at Bournemouth University in September 2018, Elsie was surprised when her mum visited and looked really slim, as she had joined WW.
She looked really good, Elsie recalled.
We did a bit of shopping, she tried this top on and looked incredible.
Elsie recalled: I was really impressed by what shed achieved, but I didnt think Id be able to do the same.
But a trip to a caf over the Christmas holidays was the turning point for Elsie, who joined WW a month later in January 2019.
She said: Mum and I were in a cafe together.
Elsie continued: I was having a cheese toastie and a teacake, which was just a snack for me, while Mum had a WW bar.
She told me what I was eating would have been the whole of her daily allowance in points, adding that if I wanted to join WW she would pay for it and help me.
Still, I did not think I would do it, because I thought Id get bored very quickly.
Heading back to university after joining the slimming club online, the pair agreed that Tracey would go to the classes and pass the advice she gleaned on to her daughter, who would then attend them when she finished university in May.
Elsie said: I had to change my whole lifestyle, so I gave everything up.
At the beginning, I would not have a cooked breakfast or a McDonalds because I worried that if I allowed myself to, Id fall back into bad habits.
Elsie said: I did struggle in the first couple of days, but after the first week and a half, Id lost seven pounds, which changed my mindset and made me really determined.
The change has been incredible.
I now eat lots of veg, chicken breasts, WW snacks and sugar free jelly. Ive got a really sweet tooth, so that helps to ease my cravings. I cook a lot of meals from scratch and prep meals for lunch.
A typical student, before her diet, Elsie normally got out of bed at 11am.
But, as the weight started to drop off, she began to get up early to go for a walk or a run.
When she went home, she would join her mum on a park run, a free weekly 5k running event held at parks up and down the country.
I used to get the lift everywhere and Id never exercised, but I started taking the stairs and walking everywhere, Elsie said.
My mum was doing the coach to 5k running app, so I did it too, then when I came home for Easter, we started running together, she added.
It took me about seven months to reach my goal weight of 9st 13lb in July.
I did it really quickly and was really strict. Since then, Ive lost more and now weigh 9st 2lb.
Elsie explained: I feel really great now. Sometimes I still feel a bit self-conscious, but when I go to the shop and buy a size eight instead of a size 16 it feels so good.
My whole fashion sense has changed. I buy things I never thought I would. I was wearing skirts all through the summer and little crop tops.
Shaping up together has made the mum and daughter team closer than ever.
We love finding recipes and cooking together, said Elsie. Well still eat something like fish and chips, but well make our own hand cut potato or sweet potato chips, and then well have chicken nuggets using chickpea breadcrumbs.
We also do the park run together on a Saturday morning.
We were always close, but were even closer now.
Tracey, whose husband, Dan, 52, is an alarm fitter and who also has a son, Alfie, 23 who works with his dad, said her motivation to lose weight was the approach of her 50th birthday.
With a BMI of 29.8 before she slimmed down making her overweight, according to the NHS, she said: I was coming up to a big birthday and I wanted to be fit at 50.
I realised I was unhappy and started thinking about my health and fitness. Id always been between nine and 10 stone, but after I had children the pounds started going on slowly.
Tracey continued: I work as a childminder, so am at home picking all day. I would then enjoy a few glasses of wine in the evening and liked a good night out in the pub.
Id eat a lot of unhealthy food like sweets, chocolate, crisps, bacon rolls and pasta and went up to 12st 11lb.
I could not fit in any of my clothes anymore and I wasnt doing any exercise. I just didnt feel good.
With Elsie leaving for university in September 2018, Tracey thought it would be a good time to join WW, and by March 2019, she had lost almost three stone, taking her down to 10 stone.
Reaching her goal weight of 9st 7lb in March 2019, she has stopped boozing in the week, watches what she eats and runs 5k three or four times a week to keep the weight off.
And she is delighted that her own successful diet inspired Elsie to address her weight, too.
I didnt want to tell Elsie that she should lose weight, I knew it had to be her decision and she had to do it when she was ready, Tracey explained.
But I think it sparked something in her when she saw how Id done it.
She did really well then we both started running, we did the Race for Life and were doing the park runs together.
Tracey said: Its so important, because as well as increasing our health, its something that we can do together. I go and visit her at university in Bournemouth, then we get up and do the park run.
Im so proud of her for doing it. Its not just for health but for our mindsets as well.
Weve always been close, but its brought us closer together.
And Tracey is really feeling the benefits.
I feel brilliant now, I sleep better at night. I feel good going out to buy clothes and summer is great as I dont feel like I have to cover everything up, and I can wear shorts.
Before I would hit the snooze button but now Ill jump out of bed and get a run in before the day starts.
Tracey added: I eat lots of homemade soups, fish and veg and have stopped drinking in the week. I dont miss any of it.
Looking forward to spending Mothers Day together, Tracey and Elsie will be spending it at home this year, with activities restricted due to the coronavirus.
I think it will be a quiet celebration this year. Well probably just cook something nice together, Elsie said. She really is the best mum. I couldnt have done this without her.
For more information about myWW, visit WW.com or download the WW app and to follow Elsies journey on Instagram visit @es_progess
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