My 8 stone rollercoaster weight loss
It was the most embarrassing moment of her life, but it took being turned away from a theme-park ride for Amy Beveridge to start dieting.
Every woman who is trying to lose weight or maintain her figure has something to motivate her.
Whether it’s a picture of the ‘old you’ on the fridge, children you want to stay fit for, or a gorgeous dress in the wardrobe.
But, for me, whenever I think about reaching for another slice of cake, I remember the feeling of utter humiliation as I walked away from the theme-park ride I was too fat to get on.
Every step of my walk of shame is etched on my memory, and I know I’ll never let myself feel that way again.
Growing up, I was always slim. My mum cooked healthy meals, snacks were scarce, and while my younger brother played rugby, I enjoyed cycling.
Then, when I was 17, I met my husband Douglas. Caught up in the exciting stages of a new romance, it didn’t take long before I’d traded in the healthy lifestyle I’d been so used to for lunches and dinners out.
Relaxed and content, I didn’t think about the calories in the creamy pastas or stodgy puddings, and I certainly didn’t notice the pounds creeping on.
A year later and a stone heavier, Douglas and I moved in together and my lifestyle went through yet another overhaul.
Working in the army meant he was often stationed away from home for months at a time, so when he did return we’d stay in and watch films – more often than not with a takeaway sitting on our laps.
Of course my clothes got tighter, but with no scales in the house I avoided the truth of my weight gain and came up with all the excuses I could. If I needed bigger jeans I blamed new store sizing.
Then, just weeks after our son Callum was born in September 2004, Douglas went on a six-month tour of Iraq. I comfort ate my way through the worry about his safety.
By the time Euan was born, three years later, I was a size 24 – huge for my 5ft 1in frame.
But still I couldn’t see it – or I chose not to. Until July 2009 when everything changed.
That Saturday had started off full of promise. We’d woken early for a family outing to a theme park.
The kids couldn’t wait to get there, and I was just as excited – I’d loved theme parks since I was little.
We spent the day with the kids on the teacup ride and carousel, until, worn out, I decided it was time to head home.
But I couldn’t resist stopping at a ride called Eagle’s Claw.
“Go on then,” Douglas laughed. “We’ll watch you from the sides.”
The seats were balanced 2ft off the ground, but after I managed to hoist myself in, I waited for the automatic system to secure the harness over my shoulders.
Only there was no click to signal it was fastened.
“What’s the hold up?” I wondered. “The ride’s full, they can’t possibly be trying to fit anyone else on.”
Only, they were trying to get someone off – me!
“I’m sorry,” the ride operator said, stumbling over his words. “Yours won’t close.”
Feeling my face flush with humiliation, I realised what he was saying – I was too fat.
As people around me started to turn and stare, all I wanted was to disappear.
But fighting back tears, I clambered out of the seat and made my way to the exit as quickly as I could.
Each step I took past the other people was torture, as I felt their eyes boring into me and judging my body. I’d never felt so ashamed.
Douglas had been too far away to hear what happened, and as I stormed straight past him for the car park he ran after me.
“What on earth’s wrong?” he asked.
But I couldn’t speak – not until I got in the safety of our car.
As soon as I shut the door I recounted what I’d just endured.
“Why didn’t you tell me I was so big?” I demanded, my body shaking with sobs.
“You always look beautiful,” was all Douglas could reply.
His words did little to reassure me. All I could think about was those people on the ride telling the story to their friends and laughing.
It didn’t matter they were strangers, they would be laughing at me.
Back home, I went straight online and after researching on the internet I found a local Weight Watchers club and booked in for their next session.
Two days later, I found myself at the meeting, standing on the scales and watching the dial creep up.
As it stopped, a gasp caught in my throat. I was 17st 4lb.
Seeing my face twisted in shock, the consultant gave my arm a squeeze.
“Don’t worry,” she said with a warm smile. “This time next week you’ll weigh less.”
Thankfully she was right. I cut out all processed and fatty foods and began to make home-cooked meals from scratch. After seven days I’d lost 7lb.
“You can already see a difference,” Douglas encouraged me.
After a few more weeks I took up swimming and the weight dropped off steadily at 5lbs a month.
Two years later I was 11st 12lb, a size 14, and I felt great.
And there was even better news when I found out I was pregnant again.
After our son Ross was born, I managed to lose the 2st I’d gained and finally by July 2013 I’d reached my goal weight of 9st 10lb.
But despite being a size 8 to 10, it’s taken a while for me to realise I really am slimmer.
Of course the memory of that day at the theme park will never leave me, but I think that’s a good thing.
Yes, it was mortifying but in a way it’s the reason I’m so happy today.
If you’re wondering if I’ve been back to that theme park, the answer’s yes.
In fact I went on the very same ride, and when the harness clicked into place I felt like the proudest woman in the world.