Once I ditched my delicious doughnuts for dancing, even I couldn’t believe the results…
By Clare Doyle, 30, from Llanelli, Wales
Pulling my work uniform on, I tried to ignore my reflection in the mirror. I loved working in a bakery but I hated the unflattering, high-waisted trousers I had to wear.
As I strained the zip up over my size 22 belly, I left for work – but not before I caught sight of myself in the mirror out of the corner of my eye.
There was no ignoring my hulking reflection, no matter how hard I tried. I sighed as I ran my hands over my flabby frame, tugging at my uniform.
At 19 I’d had the dream figure. I’d been a slinky size 10 and had even tried a bit of modelling. Back then, I was the life and soul of the party and had loved flaunting my fab figure on nights out with my friends.
‘Those days are long gone now though,’ I whispered at the mirror. Over the years, my waistband had expanded.
After falling pregnant with my son, Aiden now seven, my body had changed and working in a bakery meant I could continuously snack on calorific treats.
I just couldn’t resist the sugary pastries and doughnuts I served our customers each day and as a result, I gained a huge seven stone in just over a year.
At a massive 17 stone, I felt terrible about my bulging body. My confidence hit rock bottom and as I became withdrawn I sought comfort in food. It was a vicious circle.
Ashamed of my body, I avoided mirrors and shied away from the camera and instead, I threw myself into being the best mum I could be to Aiden.
Then in 2010, I was relieved when I went on holiday to France. A break was just what I needed and as I boarded the plane, I felt my worries melt away.
But a few days later, my phone rang. ‘Clare, it’s Jodie,’ came my cousin’s voice at the other end of the line. ‘Sorry to ring while you’re on holiday but it’s Nan – she’s died,’ she told me.
I was stunned. ‘Thanks for letting me know,’ I managed to whisper before hanging up in shock. I hadn’t been prepared for Nan’s death and suddenly I realised just how short life is.
I knew then I needed to make some serious changes and on the return journey home, I vowed to overhaul my life.
I couldn’t avoid all the tempting treats at work, but I also couldn’t leave my job at the bakery, I needed the money. Instead, I decided to exercise more and burn those cake calories off.
Confiding my plan in my cousin Jodie she instantly invited me to her Zumba class.
She explained it was a great way to get fit and have fun. I leapt at the chance to get out and make some new friends – and to lose weight too.
I knew I had to make a change and this seemed like the perfect way to do it. I loved shaking away the calories, and once I’d got into the swing of things, the Zumba class didn’t even feel like exercise.
I made a new group of fit friends and when one suggested I try her kettlebell class, I decided to give that a go too.
The class was tough and at points I didn’t think I’d get through it, but at the end of the session I felt elated that I’d finished.
‘When’s the next one?’ I puffed. ‘Sign me up!’
Feeling positive and more like myself than I had done in years, I was determined not to lose this feeling. Soon, I was hooked and after averaging six to eight Zumba and kettlebell classes a week, I began to see results.
I shimmied and shook away the dress sizes and after a year, I’d dropped from a size 22 to a size 18.
I felt fantastic but there was still work to be done. After finding the photos from my holiday to France the year before, I couldn’t believe the person staring back at me.
As I flicked through the album, it was only then I realised just how big I had been and I promised I’d never let it happen again.
So, I joined another gym and as well as Zumba, I started running and lifting weights too. It was difficult balancing my job at the bakery, as well as being a mum alongside my five-times-a-week gym sessions, but I knew I could do it.
I couldn’t believe it when I gradually began to enjoy exercise. And no one was more surprised than me when I even entered marathons!
Finally, after a year of early morning runs and night-time gym classes, I’d shed an incredible seven stone.
At a slinky size 10, I looked – and felt – fabulous. And I was so proud of losing the weight naturally and doing it the hard way.
I’ve scaled back my Zumba and gym classes from eight classes a week to five, but I love my active lifestyle and have even taken up surfing too.
I still love my job at the bakery and allow myself the odd cake as a treat, knowing that my gym sessions will keep my 10 stone frame in trim.
Since slimming down, I love flaunting my new figure. I feel like I can be the person I always was on the inside. Life is short and I no longer have to live it in the shadows.
Now I’ve swapped doughnuts for dancing, I’ve never been happier!
Bakery worker Clare shaped up and lost seven stone when she swapped cream cakes for gym classes. She was really proud of her achievement so we help her sell her story to Bella magazine. If you’d like to share your slimming success too, our team will make sure you get paid the best price.