I blamed anyone and everything for my weight gain, until a cruel note from a stranger changed my mind and my ways…
By Louise Hanner, 34, from Norfolk
By the time I’d had my two children Jordan, 15 and Kasey, 11, I’d piled on six stone and was unrecognisable to the slim bride that beamed at me from my wedding pictures.
When my marriage eventually broke down, food became my only source of comfort.
An emotional eater, I devoured a loaf of white bread, slathered in butter each day and gorged on frozen chips and chicken kievs for dinner. In between meals, I would graze on chocolate biscuits and crisps throughout the day. Nothing seemed to satisfy my endless hunger.
The bigger I got the more ashamed I felt, then I’d binge to cheer myself up again. I was caught in a vicious cycle and by the time I’d swelled to 24 stone and a hulking size 28, I was a mess.
‘I need my inhaler,’ I would splutter to my son, as I struggled to pull myself up the stairs, while frantically gasping for air.
Unable to see or reach my feet, my daughter had to tie my shoelaces for me before I left the house.
When I forced myself to look in the mirror, I felt nothing but despair.
Not only was I embarrassed by my hulking size, strangers were offended by me too.
‘Fatty!’ Passers-by would yell as I passed them in the street. On one occasion, one person spat in my face. I was constantly and publicly humiliated.
Desperate, I tried every diet under the sun but I’d lose a few pounds and gain double back.
I finally approached my GP for a gastric bypass. ‘You have to do something,’ I pleaded. ‘Nothing else works.’
But despite being huge, I didn’t fit the criteria. ‘You’re not diabetic and you’re at low risk of developing breast cancer,’ my GP explained.
I blamed anyone and everything but myself. It seemed that no one wanted to help me.
Then in December 2012, I drove to the supermarket one day to do the weekly shop. Although I didn’t have the kids with me, I nonchalantly pulled into a parent/child space.
There was no way I was waddling all the way across the car park, so I stationed my motor right outside the front door, without a second thought.
I’d piled my trolley high with junk food and was returning to my car when I stopped in my tracks.
Propped up on my windscreen was a sign: Lazy fat cow, this is for people with children, it read.
I felt my cheeks burn crimson with shame as I stuffed the note in my handbag and sped off, tears tumbling down my cheeks.
I continued to weep as I packed away the frozen chips into the freezer.
But I wasn’t just hurt, I was mortified. The worst thing about the note was that the angry stranger was right.
That’s when the realisation dawned. I’d been too fat and lazy to park in the correct space. I was at fault.
It was the wake-up call I needed. I had to shape up and no one was going to do it for me.
I immediately joined a Slimming World group and with the guidance of a consultant managed to start changing my relationship with food.
I began cooking healthy meals from scratch and started swapping chocolate bars for fruit.
Rather than starve myself silly through some fad diet, I was still eating plenty but making healthy choices. For the first time in years, I was getting the right nutrition.
The pounds soon melted away and increasingly I found myself reaching for the next size down when I went out clothes shopping.
One day, I grabbed Jordan for a big hug before he headed out the door. ‘I can get my arms all the way around you now,’ he grinned, squeezing me tight.
It was a special moment. The moment I knew that I’d come so far that I couldn’t turn back.
His cute comment kept me on track until eventually I had slimmed to 12 stone and a trim size 12. I was literally half the size of the woman I used to be and infinitely happier for it.
Not only did I have a bags of energy, for the first time in years I’d started turning heads for the right reasons.
When I was introduced to a gorgeous guy called Andrew, 29, last summer through a family friend, I didn’t think I stood a chance.
So I had to stop myself from turning around to check he was definitely talking to me, when he asked me out on a date. ‘Of course,’ I blushed, accepting his invitation.
We got on like a house on fire and we’ve been glued to each other’s side ever since. We even plan to start a family together. I’m happier than ever.
When I think back to how I used to be, I can barely believe it was me. So much has changed.
I still have the horrible note that was left on my windscreen. It may have delivered a suckerpunch but I want to thank whoever wrote it – it was the sign I needed to change!