I should have been over the moon when my Anthony proposed, but I had a big fat problem…
By Deborah Goodchild, 43, from Swindon
Slumping on the sofa, I reached for the family-sized packet of crisps next to me. After a hard day at work, I often came home feeling tired, so I ate to make myself feel better.
After the crisps, I then scoffed a whole large bar of chocolate – and that was after having a massive curry for tea.
But snacking only helped me feel better for about half an hour, and then I was back to feeling lethargic and depressed.
My weight became a problem after I gave birth to my daughter, Ashleigh, now 23. Diagnosed with bad postnatal depression, I comfort ate my way through the dark moments.
I’d start the day with a pile of toast dripping with butter, lunch would be a mayonnaise-filled sandwich, then I’d snack on piles of chocolate, biscuits and crisps all day.
I’d then devour a takeaway for dinner followed by even more chocolate and crisps before bed.
It was hardly a surprise when my weight crept up to a staggering 19st 5lbs, and I hid my hulking frame in drab size 28 clothes. And although I tried to convince myself I didn’t care, I felt frumpy and unattractive.
It didn’t help that shopping was such a nightmare – I was limited to plus-sized shops like Evans and specialist stores online.
I didn’t like going out with friends as I could never find anything nice to wear, so I just stopped going out altogether.
I was lucky though – my partner Anthony, 44, loved me for who I was, and was more than happy to snuggle up with me on the sofa with a massive pizza and a tub of ice-cream.
We got together in 1998 and hit if off straight away – I knew he was the right man for me. A year later, on Valentine’s Day, Anthony took me out for a romantic dinner and suddenly proposed.
My heart flipped when I saw the sparkling engagement ring, and I couldn’t stopped myself from beaming.
‘Yes, of course I’ll marry you!’ I squealed and threw my arms around him.
But as he slid the ring onto my finger, I had a horrible thought. My excitement quickly turned to dread when my thoughts turned to our big day.
The vision of being a wide bride, waddling down the aisle, filled my mind with horror. I wasn’t sure I could find a dress to fit me – I would be a total embarrassment.
‘Let’s wait a while before setting the date,’ I told Anthony, as we talked about wedding plans. ‘Let me lose a bit of weight first.’
But a year later, I gave birth to our son Kyle, now 15, and piled on even more weight. I was so busy taking care of my new baby, all thoughts of the wedding were put on hold.
But every now and again, Anthony would bring the subject up.
‘I’d like to set the date soon Deb,’ he said gently. ‘It’ll be wonderful to be a proper family at last. I really want you to be my wife.’
I felt my heart hammering in my chest. I said: ‘What’s the rush?’ feeling under pressure. ‘Everything is fine as it is, plus I want to lose some weight before I go near a wedding dress anyway.’
I could tell my response disappointed Anthony, but I just couldn’t get married while I was this fat. So I vowed to make a change.
The thing was, every time I started a diet I soon gave it up – it just felt too difficult. I always started with the best of intentions, but a week later I would find myself giving in to sugary treats and junk food because I felt low and tired.
I deserve a treat – I’ll just start again on Monday, I always thought to myself, but then it would happen all over again.
More years passed by – an incredible 13 in fact – but still no wedding. While friends made harmless jokes about me putting off the wedding, Anthony started getting more and more impatient.
‘Do you not want to marry me?’ He asked one night in March 2012, obviously hurt at my reluctance.
‘Of course I do!’ I replied. ‘More than anything.’
That night, something snapped. I didn’t want to hurt Anthony and I did want to marry him – just not like this.
I longed to be his wife and realised that the only obstacle standing in my way was me. So I looked for a local Slimming World group in my area and attended a meeting a few days later.
Surprisingly, I found the diet easy to follow and I really enjoyed learning how to cook healthier meals.
I swapped the buttery toast for a bowl of fruit, the sandwich for a healthy salad, the chocolate for fruit and instead of ordering a greasy curry from the local takeaway, I would make my own healthy version.
Soon, the weight was dropping off me – and I was over the moon when I lost a stone in just three weeks!
Even Anthony and Kyle enjoyed the new meals, and as my energy increased we started doing more out and about as a family. I started running, cycling and even bought a treadmill.
As my dress size shrunk, I rediscovered my passion for shopping and fashion and started buying flattering outfits to wear.
People started doing a double take in the street when they saw me and complimented me on my appearance.
I even started asking friends if they fancied going to the pub for a drink or for a night out on the tiles – something I hadn’t done in years.
‘Wow, you look amazing – it’s like I have myself a brand new woman,’ Anthony joked as I was getting ready for a night out. ‘Well done love, I’m proud of you.’
Before my weight loss, the idea of going on holiday abroad filled me with dread – there was no way I’d be seen dead in a swimsuit, but I found myself perusing holiday websites in search of an exotic getaway – my confidence had never been higher.
My weight loss was slow and steady. I was determined to keep it off for good. Whenever I thought about slipping up, I reminded myself about how much I wanted to be a blushing bride – not a bulging bride.
Finally, in August 2014, I felt confident enough to book the wedding.
‘Let’s do it,’ I grinned at Anthony. ‘Let’s pick a date and get everything booked for our big day.’
Anthony beamed – he was over the moon – and so was I! I was confident that I could now walk down the aisle feeling like a glamorous bride – instead of being the size of a house!
We booked the local register office for August 2015, and invited 50 guests to a hotel bar for the evening reception. I even asked Kyle to give me away, and he was thrilled.
‘I’m so chuffed you’re finally doing this, Mum,’ he said, giving me a hug. ‘It’s about time!’
Shopping for wedding dresses was an exciting but daunting experience – and something I never quite believed would happen.
I took my friends for support, and as I didn’t have a clue what sort of style I wanted, I tried on a few before settling on a beautiful gown.
Standing in that gorgeous dress, I beamed as I faced the mirror. I felt attractive – and amazing!
I was thrilled when the store owner told me that I would have to get it taken in before the big day.
To date, I’ve lost a staggering seven stone and at 12st 5lbs I’ll glide down the aisle in a size 14 dress.
I can’t believe that after a 16-year engagement, it’s finally happening. I had my perfect man all along – but now I’ll have the perfect wedding body to match.