After eating my way to nearly 16st, a test revealed I had the body of a 62-year-old. I knew then it was time to act. I lost 7st 7lbs and over a decade from my appearance – now I’m mistaken for my husband’s mistress!
By Niki Dunn, 47, from Liverpool
WHEN Niki Dunn shed an incredible 7st 7lbs in weight she was amazed when she also lost over a decade from her appearance.
And the 47-year-old looked so much younger than her actual years she was even mistaken for her husband’s MISTRESS at a family get together.
Weighing in at 15st 12lbs and wearing a dress size 20, the civil servant from Liverpool was far from happy about her figure and often ate piles of junk food in a bid to make herself feel better.
After looking after both her parents until they passed away, Niki was left comfort eating more than ever to cope with her grief.
“I’ve always struggled with my weight, but when my parents fell ill I comfort ate to get through each day,” she said.
“My mum, Margaret, died 10 years ago from cancer and I’m an only child so I cared for her until she passed away. I was so busy caring for her, I was too tired to cook and ordered in a takeaway for myself each night. Then my dad, Alf, became ill with a lung disorder.
“He lost his appetite so I started buying him tasty treats to try to get him to eat again – like cakes, chocolate and Chinese takeaways. I’d keep him company by eating with him. I was piling on the pounds but I couldn’t bring myself to care when my dad was so ill. He died in February 2012, and I was devastated.
“Realising that I had lost both my parents was hard for me. I hit rock bottom and became lost in the grief. I found myself comfort eating more than ever. Soon enough I weighed in at nearly 16 stone and was a frumpy size 20.
“I’m only 5ft ½in tall so I was massive for my height. I felt lethargic and low and I would be out of breath just walking down the street or climbing the stairs. My belly was so big I even struggled to bend over to tie up my laces.
“One evening in 2011, a friend and I were driving to a concert in Manchester. We got caught in traffic, but when it started moving again, the car in front didn’t shift. I gave the driver a toot and got out of my car. But the driver shot me a spiteful glare and called me a ‘fat cow’ when I asked her why she wasn’t moving on. I was stunned, and incredibly embarrassed.”
As her weight increased, Niki said her confidence started to plummet.
“I began to get wary of people looking at me,” she admitted.
“I felt huge compared to everyone else – and I looked older than my years too. Soon I started staying in more and more, and I felt quite depressed about life.
“I would hide my figure in drab, baggy clothes because clothes shopping was completely horrible for me. I looked awful in everything I tried on. Sometimes I’d catch sight of myself in a shop window or a mirror and I would do a double take – I actually didn’t recognise this balloon I had turned into.
“I knew that my husband Mike, 47, loved me for who I was, he told me all the time. But I became increasingly self conscious and miserable. I just didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin.”
In January 2014, Niki decided enough was enough, and enlisted the help of a Liverpool-based personal trainer, Phil Downing, 26.
She said: “I had a friend who had lost a lot of weight and she had been seeing Phil. She recommended him so I booked an appointment.
“I was so nervous, but Phil was really friendly. He carried out a full health assessment on me to determine my metabolic age – the age my body was functioning at. The results were shocking – according to the results, I had the biological age of a 62-year-old. I was disgusted with myself – I was eating myself into an early grave.
“That was all I needed to take getting into shape seriously. Phil and I got to work straightaway. He put me through my paces with 45 minute workouts. At first, I struggled to even get through the warm-up without collapsing and struggling to breathe, but I kept going and I got a little fitter each time I went. As well as cardiovascular exercise such as running, Phil taught me how to do resistance work by doing fun things like tyre flipping. Soon enough, I actually starting looking forward to my training sessions.
“He also put me on a 30 day cleanse, followed by a healthy eating plan. I followed his advice religiously, horrified by my metabolic age. I cut out all the greasy takeaways and cakes and started eating plenty of vegetables and protein. I taught myself how to cook properly, and I was surprised to find I actually really enjoyed it. Mike liked all the homecooked meals too and would joke about me finally learning how to use the kitchen. Soon enough the weight was falling off me.”
Niki lost 15lbs in her first month of training and eating well, and in just 10 months she had lost a staggering 7st 7lbs. Weighing in at 8st 5lbs, Niki shrank to a tiny size 8 and lost six dress sizes.
But the biggest difference in her appearance was how much younger she looked.
“People started commenting that I was starting to look younger as I lost the weight,” Niki said.
“My face was starting to look a lot fresher and I felt far more energetic than I ever did before. As I regained my figure, I started to enjoy shopping again – something I hadn’t been able to for years without getting upset. I also took the plunge and grew my hair, before dying it blonde. Mike loved the difference in me – both physically and emotionally. I was a lot happier in myself.”
The icing on the cake was when Niki accompanied Mike, who runs his own IT company, to a family member’s birthday party.
“We went to my sister-in-law’s 50th birthday party,” Niki said. “I decided to make an effort because it was a special occasion and also a lot of the family hadn’t seen me since I had lost the weight.
“I put on a cream blazer and a pair of sequin leggings – which was a far cry from the baggy clothes people were used to me wearing – and did my hair and make-up nicely. When we got to the party, I became aware that a few people were eyeing me strangely. I chuckled because I knew it was because they just didn’t recognise me.
“Then Mike’s aunt Brenda began to look at me suspiciously. I hadn’t seen her in ages, so I beamed at her when she came to greet us. But Brenda looked at me coldly. I couldn’t figure out why she was giving me such a disapproving look, and then the penny dropped – she didn’t recognise me. I laughed and just said: ‘Brenda, it’s me.’ and she looked at me in shock.
“She was mortified and said she thought Mike was attending the party with another woman. She couldn’t believe the transformation in me. While Mike and I thought it was hilarious that she’d assumed he had traded me in for a younger, thinner model, Brenda couldn’t stop apologising. I didn’t mind at all – I took it as a massive compliment.
“It’s not just Brenda either – I’ve walked past plenty of people in the street who haven’t recognised me after losing the weight. They always do a double take when I wave and say hello.”
Since losing the weight, Niki kept up her training regime with Phil and recently retook the metabolic exam to check her progress. She was stunned to see her biological age had dropped down to 31 years old.
“I was amazed, “ she said. “I’ve gone from my body being 62 years old biologically to it now being just 31 – which is 16 years younger than my actual age.
“Now it’s a whole new way of life for me. I still train three to four times a week, and I credit Phil with saving my life. Who knows what would have happened to me if I had carried on the way I was. I was depressed, unhealthy and I looked far older than I should have done. I’m happier than I ever was before – and now Mike really does have a new woman!”