I shed seven stone – and my Mandy Dingle body!

I shed seven stone – and my Mandy Dingle body!

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Julie Butler headshot


When she was compared to a famously larger-than-life soap star, Julie knew she needed to shrink her size 24 figure… 

By Helen O’Brien Google

A woman lost nearly EIGHT stone after she was compared to the famously dumpy Emmerdale actress Lisa Riley.

Julie Butler, 38, liked nothing better than a takeaway and a cosy night in with her husband Andy Butler, 38,, causing the mother-of-three to eat her way to a whopping 18 stone.

At size 24, a stranger remarked that she looked similar to Emmerdale’s larger-than-life character Mandy Dingle, played by actress Lisa Riley.

Mortified, Mrs Butler made a vow to diet. She has now lost 7st 7lbs – and any resemblance to the curvy soap star.

Her husband, who weighed 20 stone, has shed six stone as well.

Mrs Butler, of Southampton, said: “The Mandy Dingle comparisons are long gone. I feel so much happier and more confident in myself.”

Julie, before losing 7.5 stone

Mrs Butler was slim until she went to college where she swapped healthy eating and athletics for pub lunches and boozy nights.

Mrs Butler, a stay-at-home mum, met her husband Andy, 38, shortly after she turned 18. The pair married in 1998, when Mrs Butler weighed 13 stone.

With three children, Lewis, 14, Mitchell, 12 and Sophie, 9, she soon piled on extra weight throughout her three pregnancies.

She said: “We fell into the habit of snuggling up on the sofa, eating takeaways and treating ourselves to chocolate and crisps.

“I put on weight with each of my pregnancies – it was partly natural baby weight, but a lot of it was because I was eating unhealthily.”

Mrs Butler says realised she was overweight when she overheard a man in a pub compared her to Mandy Dingle.

Mandy Dingle was played by Lisa Riley in the popular Yorkshire-set soap Emmerdale from 1995 to 2001.

She said: “The comparison upset me because she is known for being big.

“I’m sure she is a lovely woman and she is a great lovely bubbly character – but I didn’t like being compared to her size.

“At the time I wasn’t bothered about my weight. I thought it was a part of who I am. But that comment bothered me. I started to worry about my weight.”

While celebrating her 15th wedding anniversary in May 2013 with a burger and chips at TGI Friday’s, she put down her knife and fork and vowed to change her lifestyle.

She said: “We realised we were not happy with our weight – both of us were the biggest we had ever been.

“Our health was suffering, I had irritable bowel syndrome and Andy had acid reflux. We decided then and there that when we got home we would sort our lives out.

“We both loved each other whether we were fat or thin, big or small, but both of us were unhappy with ourselves.”

Mrs Butler signed up to her local Slimming World group and started attending weekly meetings. The couple swapped fast food for lean meat and fresh fruit and vegetables.

Julie after losing 7.5 stone

Before beginning her weight loss Mrs Butler typically ate three slices of white toast with butter and marmalade followed by a cup of tea with biscuits for breakfast. For lunch she would have a ham and cheese sandwich, crisps and a chocolate bar.  For dinner she ate a Domino’s pizza with all the toppings, garlic bread, chicken strippers and wedges with dips. During the evening she would snack on Maltesers.

Today, Mrs Butler eats fruit and yoghurt with an omelette for breakfast, a jacket potato with ham and cottage cheese and a salad for lunch and a salmon stir fry for dinner. Throughout the day she snacks on fresh fruit.

They also started taking part in weekly five kilometre runs in their local park.

Soon Mrs Butler had shrunk down to the 10st 7lb she is today, allowing her to squeeze into size 12 dresses. Mr Butler, the manager of an electrical store, dropped from 20 stone to just 14 stone.

Mrs Butler said: “I feel so much healthier and more confident and I look great.

“I loved losing weight with Andy, he looks and feel amazing as well. I loved having the support of someone at home going through the same thing as me – I could not have done it without him.

“I love going into shops and pickling fashionable dresses straight off the rail rather than having to dig through the size XXL end of the rail.”

Mr Butler said: “I feel like a different person, my life have completely changed in a good way.

“Before I lost weight I was at work all day and falling asleep after a couple of ciders at home. I didn’t have enough energy to do anything with my kids.

“Now I come home and spend time with my children because I am full of energy – I feel like I can do anything. Me and Julie had to make a lot of sacrifices, and I’m glad we were there for each other.”

Mrs Butler is now a Slimming World consultant and runs her own class in the Coxford area of Southampton.

Julie, before and after losing seven and a half stone with Slimming World

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