As a serial snacker I ballooned to 19 stone, slumped in front of the computer gorging on bread and cheese. But, I wasn’t expecting that the secret to my ten stone weight loss was waiting online…
By Bethany Grace, 24, from Northampton
I was a competitive dancer in primary school but I gave it up when I moved to secondary school so I could spend more time with my friends.
When I got home from class, I’d slump in front of the computer and resume our chat on messenger until bedtime.
The only exercise I got was sneaking downstairs to the fridge! I was addicted to snacking and one of my favourite treats was a microwaved block of cheese.
I’d devour it in one, greasy sitting and have to answer to my unimpressed mum Julie, 45, the following day. I also adored freshly-baked bread and could polish off two loaves for my dinner.
Unsurprisingly, my weight soared to 19 stone and although I squeezed my curves into stretchy size 18 leggings, my work uniform told the truth – I was a hulking size 24.
I tried not to let my super-size frame get to me. I told myself that my colossal curves were part of who I was.
But in truth, you’d never catch me strutting my stuff on the dancefloor with my slim friends. I couldn’t cope with the disapproving looks.
After a night out, I dreaded waking up in the morning to an endless stream of unflattering pictures on Facebook. I lived in fear of the camera phone.
I carried on with my habits regardless. I liked my sedentary lifestyle and there was no way that I was prepared to give up my food. Snacking was my favourite hobbie.
Then one day, I bumped into the boy I’d secretly fancied for ages. “I feel a bit bigger,” I said, running my hand over my belly.
“Yeah, I noticed you’d put on more weight,” he replied nonchalantly.
My cheeks burned red with shame. He hadn’t meant to be cruel but his words stung – because they were true. That night, I cried my heart out for hours.
I spent the following week contemplating my next move. If I was going to alter my ways radically, there was no going back.
I didn’t want to try the latest fad diet – I wanted to commit to change. By the end of the seven days, my mind was made up. My lifestyle needed a complete overhaul.
I wanted a novel way of keeping me on track so I created an Instagram account and decided to monitor my weight loss over the web.
Once all my friends started following me, I knew there was no going back. I couldn’t afford to fail now. The shame wouldn’t be worth it.
I cut out stodgy bread and potatoes and took up exercise again. As a student, I couldn’t afford an expensive gym membership, so instead I took advantage of the free bike hire in a nearby park, or I’d take an exercise class on YouTube.
I’d vary the sessions between cardio and yoga. I was a big girl and I knew that if I didn’t tone up – I was going to have a serious excess skin problem.
To my delight, the pounds started to fall away. Every time I uploaded a new picture on Instagram, I felt more determined to stick to my plan, each encouraging comment, propelling me towards my target weight. The support from my online friends was invaluable.
The more I filled up on fresh vegetables and litres of water, the less I missed feasting on doughy bread and melted cheese. For the first time in my life, I actually felt full.
Every time I stepped on the scales I felt a sense of relief as the needle gradually moved anti-clockwise over the numbers. I was putting in the work and I wanted badly to see the results.
Now, 18 months on, I’m 8st 9lbs and a slinky size eight. I’ve been very strict with myself to get here but the journey has been more than worth it.
I’ve even joined a slimming club recently to help teach me how to enjoy a treat, without my weight spiralling out of control again. I’ve come too far to let all my hard work unravel.
I feel great. I’m not shy in front of the camera anymore and I love sharing pictures of me in cute outfits that I would never in a million years have attempted to wear before.
I’ve always been interested in fashion and there is nothing like being able to try on anything I like.
As for social media, I no longer live in fear of timeline updates. I love the way I look. The transformation has been incredible.
My confidence has rocketed and although I don’t fancy the guy that spurred me on to diet any more, I’m looking for love.
It takes time for an overweight person to come to terms with their weight loss and it took me a while to accept my new self. I can actually say it now – I am thin.
Slumping behind a computer screen was what made me pile on the pounds – but going online helped me lose them. Instagram has made me picture perfect!
As told to Helen O’Brien Google