I made a promise to my fiance, Paul, to lose weight. Then when he died, I was determined to keep that promise…
By Tracie Reid, 49, from Darlington, County Durham
As I grabbed the TV remote and settled in for another night on the sofa, my fiance Paul slipped his arm around me.
“Shall we get a takeaway love?” he asked, and I nodded enthusiastically.
Paul and I would spend most evenings like this, slumped together on the couch, watching a film. Usually we would order in a large pizza or a takeaway curry. We were so in love, we didn’t need anyone else – we were always in our own little bubble.
We met in November 1997, and it was love at first sight. Paul was charming, warm and loyal – everything I wanted in a partner. We quickly moved in together and got engaged in April 1998, and I excitedly looked forward to our future.
But while I was head over heels in love with Paul, I had a completely different relationship with myself.
My confidence was at an all time low, due to my unhealthy lifestyle. I’ve always had issues with food, but after my mum died when I was 20, I really began to pile on the pounds.
I was a typical comfort eater and by the time I hit my 30s I weighed 21st 9lbs and was a hulking size 32.
I knew Paul, loved me for me, but my confidence was at rock bottom and I kept putting off our wedding because I couldn’t bear the thought of me waddling up the aisle as a bulging bride.
When my GP put me forward for gastric surgery on the NHS, I thought it was the answer to my problems. I spent two years on the waiting list before Paul begged me not to go ahead with the operation, insisting it would limit me for life.
“You’ll never be able to eat proper-sized meals again,” he moaned. “You can do it naturally, I know you can – without surgery.”
So when a Slimming World leaflet dropped through the letterbox in February 2011, it felt like a sign. I joined my local group and was thrilled when I started losing weight. Maybe I could do it by myself after all.
By May 2012, I’d lost an incredible 12 stone. I’d never been happier and Paul was delighted for me too. He’d take me shopping for new clothes, and clapped with delight as I stepped out of the changing rooms to show him a new outfit.
“You look amazing my love,” he would beam at me. But as happy as Paul was for me, he was struggling with health problems of his own.
Complications from diabetes led to charcot foot syndrome and cellulitis, and soon Paul needed a wheelchair to get around.
When he had a stroke in April 2013, I struggled to adapt to my new role as his full-time carer. I ordered takeaways four times a week to cheer myself up and, soon enough, I’d gained back a whopping eight stone.
I’d undone all my good work. Feeling fat and frumpy again, I hated leaving the house and I struggled with simple tasks like helping Paul out of bed.
Despite his own suffering, Paul desperately wanted me to be happy and healthy again.
“Go back to Slimming World, I’ll be ok,” he suggested.
So in April 2015, I re-joined my local group. Paul loved hearing how well I was doing at my weekly weigh-ins but a couple of months later, he turned to me with a serious look on his face.
“Whatever happens, I want you to stick at it, no matter what,” he urged. “Promise me you’ll never give up again. I just want you to be happy.”
I smiled at him.
“Of course I will,” I said. “I’m not giving up again, I promise.”
As I made my vow to Paul, I didn’t realise how poignant his words would become.
Just two months later, in September 2015, I had just put the kettle on and we were watching television when Paul looked at me strangely.
“I don’t feel very well my love,” he said quietly.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, rushing over to him..
“I don’t know,” he said, before passing out.
I immediately called for an ambulance, and Paul was whisked to hospital. The doctors did their best but it was too late – Paul had suffered a massive stroke and had died at the age of 53.
I was devastated – but determined to keep my promise. With Paul’s words of encouragement ringing in my ears, I went to my slimming class the next week…and the next, and the next.
Now, I’ve lost a staggering 11 stone and have shrunk to a svelte size 10. The transformation has completely changed my life.
My only regret is that Paul didn’t live long enough to see me flaunting my fab new figure – but I know he’s looking down on me with a proud smile on his face.
Tracie was determined to keep her weight loss promise to her beloved fiance, Paul, even beyond the grave. We helped her share her slimming success with a huge readership, targeting the biggest women’s magazine in the country, Take a Break. If you have a weight loss story you’d like to sell, fill in the form here on the right and we’ll get in touch to explain how it works.