Woman lost huge eight stone but ‘never once felt deprived’

Ashleigh went from a size 18 to a size eight after making healthy adjustments to her lifestyle, such as eating a healthier diet and doing more exercise. She ate smaller portion sizes and joined her local Nuffield Health gym. The 24-year-old lost a whopping eight stone and a half.

At her heaviest, Ashleigh weighed 18 stone. Both her mental and physical health suffered as a result, she told Express.co.uk.

Recalling her weight gain, Ashleigh said: “Lockdown was a trigger for me. I couldn’t go out and I’d just got into a new relationship.

“I was eating so many takeaways. I’d have McDonalds for breakfast, the previous night’s Chinese for lunch, and then maybe a pizza for supper. I was also snacking on multipacks of crisps, chocolate, lots of junk food basically. I was probably consuming 5,000 calories a day.

“I also got even lazier. I didn’t even want to go for a walk. Physically and mentally, I was the worst I had ever been. I was gaining weight rapidly and developing stretch marks that were actually painful.

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“I felt really down, really tired and horribly lethargic. I couldn’t bear to look at my body and asked myself, ‘what are you doing to yourself?’.

“I was starting to dress differently and people around me were saying, ‘why do you wear big T-shirts all the time?’.”

Eventually, Ashleigh’s mum and girlfriend, Katie, encouraged her to join the local Nuffield Health gym.

“Katie had put on weight too and said she’d try and get fitter with me,” Ashleigh said. “I couldn’t have done it without her.”

As well as joining the gym, Ashleigh started to make small changes to her diet, which was challenging at first. She explained: “I tried to start eating better and lost half a stone, but then I’d put it all back on again.

“I got Covid in July 2021 and that’s what started me off. I had it for three weeks and felt so ill, I was eating a lot less.

“I thought I might as well carry on and continue eating smaller portions. I also joined the gym and started going four times a week. I wanted to get down to 13 stone.

“Katie and I went to the gym together. The first two months were really difficult. I felt too embarrassed to do classes, so all I did was work on the cross trainer and the treadmill. I would do it watching my favourite TV series on my phone, such as Dr Foster and Silent Witness.

“Food wise, I knew I wouldn’t be able to lose weight if I could no longer eat the foods I loved, so I made small changes. I ate healthy ready meals, cut down on snacks, and allowed myself a takeaway at weekends.”

Ashleigh lost weight and a half stone over the course of a year. She kick started her weight loss journey in August 2021 and, by August 2022, she weighed nine stone 11 lbs.

“The great thing is, I didn’t do it unhealthily,” she said. “All I did was start moving more and eating food that was good for me. Plus, I carried on having the odd takeaway almost all the way through.”

As well as her physical health, Ashleigh’s mental health has greatly improved since losing weight. She recalled how she felt “really low before I lost the weight”, adding: “I had no confidence and didn’t want to go out. I used to love clothes.

“Instead of wearing jeans and nice tops, I was always in baggy tops and joggers, and there came a point where I couldn’t even be bothered to apply make-up. I remember feeling the worst I’d ever felt on my birthday.

“I feel like a completely different person now. In terms of happiness, it’s like I’m living my dream life. This is a new found level of happiness. It’s only looking back that I realise how miserable I was.”

Ashleigh went on to say that maintaining her ideal weight is now “easy” because her habits and tastes have changed. She continued: “I was in Phuket recently, running around doing sprints, as I love exercising now.

“My whole outlook has changed. I am drawn to healthy food. It’s not about counting calories or anything, I literally get excited about a bowl of sprouts and edamame beans. I’ve gone off junk food. I look at people my age and what they eat and think I don’t want to go back to that.”

Ashleigh’s advice for those wanting to lose weight was to “keep enjoying your food and make allowances for things you really love”.

“I took small steps – I joined the gym, started on the cross trainer, then graduated to classes and weight training,” she reiterated.

“Foodwise, I graduated from healthy ready meals, went onto a Gusto box and then I started eating my mum’s homemade food and got really into cooking. I never once felt deprived – and that’s the secret I think. As time passed, I just started to feel better and better and I never looked back.”

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