I was thrilled when I lost nine stone. But I wasn’t expecting to lose something else too…
By Hannah Bilcock, 28, from Royston, Hertfordshire
I looked in the mirror and sighed as I pulled on yet another size 22 baggy top. At 17st 6lbs, I was used to wearing shapeless, dark coloured clothes to hide my flabby frame.
But the worse I felt about my figure, the more I ate. I could easily eat a packet of biscuits without pausing for breath, and it wasn’t unusual for me to scoff an entire trifle. Food was my escape, and there was nothing I loved more that settling down in front of the TV with a takeaway, and my fiance Greg.
I met Greg, 31, in August 2006, and we were like two peas in a pod – the best thing was, I knew Greg loved me exactly the way I was. Our relationship progressed quickly and he proposed in January 2007, I was head over heels in love. We planned the wedding for September 2009.
“I’ll lose some weight before then,” I declared. But the following December I fell pregnant with our daughter, Daisymay, and my weight loss plan was soon set to one side.
Our little girl was born in August 2008, and I loved being a mum. But as Daisymay grew older, I struggled to keep up with her, just running across the room after her made me feel breathless, and I couldn’t jump around and have fun with her in the same way Greg could.
Even little things, like the 15 minute walk to work, took me at least half hour, and I would huff and puff my way around as I carried all the extra weight around with me.
So in May 2009, a friend suggested I try Weight Watchers, and I leapt at the chance. My wedding was now less than four months away, and I couldn’t face the idea of being a bulging bride.
The support I received at the meetings was amazing, and I threw myself into healthy eating. I swapped the cheese and onion pasties for salad and fruit, and cut out the fatty takeaways.
When I lost 3lbs in my first week – I was thrilled. By the time our big day arrived, I had lost a stone. But in my size 18 wedding dress, I still didn’t feel happy with myself – so I kept on going.
Soon enough, the weight was falling off me. I took up Zumba and pilates classes, and swapped my late-night takeaways for healthy meals instead.
I worked hard, determined to shift the pounds, and I was overjoyed as the numbers started rolling down on the scales.
My family and friends were also keen to congratulate me on my weight loss, and I started going out with friends more rather than slobbing out in front of the television.
Three years later, by the end of 2012, I’d shed a staggering nine stone and was a slinky size 8. I was ecstatic, for once in my life, I felt comfortable in my own skin. I was able to run around with Daisymay a whole lot more, too.
My confidence soared and I loved flaunting my new figure in fashionable clothes, but when I brought them home to try on, Greg responded with a blank expression. “You look too skinny,” he grunted, and he hated it when I went out with the girls to show off my new shape.
“Do you have to go out?” he would moan as I carefully applied my lipstick. “That’s the second night this week, I’ve hardly seen you,” he complained.
“I’ve promised the girls that I would be there. Don’t worry, I won’t be out too late,” I would promise, pecking him quickly on the cheek as I walked out through the door.
I didn’t feel bad – I was rewarding myself for losing so much weight and besides, it wasn’t like I was cheating. What was the problem?
I hardly ever went out when I was bigger, as far as I saw it, I was making up for lost time.
But Greg started to get grumpier and grumpier about me enjoying nights out on the town with the girls, and he refused to eat the same, healthy meals as me.
“I’m not eating any of that rabbit food,” he would snort, and always went off to make his own dinner.
Mealtimes soon became an awkward time, and worse yet, his remarks about me looking too ‘skinny’ were getting worse.
“You look like a skeleton,” he said one day when I tried on a brand new dress. “You need to put a little bit of weight back on, it’s unhealthy.”
My heart sank – I thought the dress had looked great on me. I was puzzled – my weight was perfectly healthy according to my body mass index and my friends kept telling me I looked fantastic. I wanted Greg to think so, too.
I thought he would be pleased with a slinkier, sexier wife on his arm – but in fact he seemed to think the complete opposite.
I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t happy for me – I was more active with our daughter, more happier in myself, and more confident when I went out. So why wasn’t Greg supporting me?
One day, I came home from work to find a massive burger and chips waiting for me on the table. As I eyed up the greasy takeaway, just the smell of it made me feel sick – that’s what the old Hannah would have eaten, I thought.
“I thought you deserved a treat,” Greg smiled as he walked into the kitchen. But I was furious.
“I don’t eat stuff like that anymore and you know that,” I snapped. “I don’t want it, I’m going to bed.”
I slammed the door behind me and burst into tears as I stomped upstairs. I felt that he was trying to sabotage my efforts to look good – why couldn’t he just get behind my health kick?
I knew Greg thought I was being ungrateful, but he didn’t understand just how far I had come, and how difficult it was to lose the weight.
I could feel distance growing between us, and eventually, after a string of heated rows, our marriage broke down and in July 2013, Greg left.
“I’m sorry, I can’t do this anymore,” he told me. “You’ve changed, you’re a different person to the woman I married.”
I couldn’t disagree with him – I had changed. I was a lively, confident person compared to the timid fat girl Greg had married.
I was more outgoing and secure in myself. I didn’t need anyone else to make me feel good about myself, because I could do that. It was sad, but I realised that I didn’t need Greg at all any more.
He moved back in with his mum, and I didn’t try to talk him around. It was upsetting, but I agreed that we should go our separate ways. We kept things civil for the sake of Daisymay, who is now five, but that’s as far as it goes.
From then on, it was out with the old, and in with the new. A month or so after Greg left, I started chatting to Kevin, 29, on Facebook. We had a few friends in common and we just hit it off. He treats me like a princess – I’ve never been happier.
Kevin loves my figure and is forever complimenting me on my weight loss – I’ve shown him pictures of what I looked like before and he says he can’t believe how far I’ve come.
And instead of moaning about me going out, he comes out with me! Our days are filled with laughter, instead of stony silences.
Losing nine stone has been amazing in so many ways, even if my love-life didn’t turn out the way I had planned. I never expected my diet to lead to divorce but I don’t regret it for one minute.
Hannah Bilcock, 28
Greg says: “Hannah just changed totally. She was going out more, and I would be left at home with our daughter. I didn’t have much time to myself. Her whole personality changed from someone who went out occasionally to someone who was going out all the time. But since her weight loss she became someone who was ‘independent but married’. She was always outgoing but I didn’t like it when she was going out and not even telling me where she was. She would come home from work and just go straight out. Her weight loss has been amazing, but if she hadn’t lost the weight then our relationship may have lasted.”
Hannah didn’t expect to lose her husband when she lost weight but doesn’t regret her decision to shape up and get healthy. We helped her share her slimming success with a huge audience when we sold her story to That’s Life! and Best magazines as well as ITV’s This Morning. If you want to share your weight loss story, read our ‘how to guide’ which will explain the process.