I knew I needed to diet but when one of the kids at my school described me as the ‘fat one’, it was the motivation I needed
By Lucy Penneck, 31, from Bournemouth
For obese teaching assistant Lucy Penneck, how to lose weight seemed like an impossible lesson to learn.
But hearing a child at the primary school where she worked innocently refer to her as the “fat one” brought home the reality of her size 24 figure.
So in March 2013, Lucy decided to join a slimming club, determined to shed her 19 stone bulk.
Now she’s no longer “fat Mrs Penneck” – she’s a slim size 8, having transformed her diet to lose over ten stone.
Lucy, 32, from Bournemouth in England, said: “It was hard to be in denial about my size when even the kids in class were noticing.
“Once we were reading a story that had a chubby character in, and one of the children said that they were fat just like me.
“I’d occasionally hear them in the playground too, saying ‘there’s Mrs Penneck, she’s quite fat.’
“They didn’t mean to be cruel, but they were right.”
Lucy, a mum of three married to Andy, 34, a gas engineer, can trace her weight problems back to childhood.
By the time she started college aged 16, she was already a size 18.
Lucy said: “At school I’d eat my packed lunch, then go to the office with a sob story about how I’d forgotten my bus money.
“With the extra cash they lent me, I’d buy chips in the canteen.
“Then at college I loved the freedom of eating whatever I wanted, which was always the unhealthy option.”
But despite her insecurities Lucy fell for Andy, and in 2007 the couple got married.
As well as Lucy’s daughter Emily, 13, they later expanded their family with Ben, eight, and Sophie, four.
“I managed to lose a bit of weight for our wedding, but I was still a size 16,” Lucy said.
“I hid beneath a long veil to disguise my fat arms.
“Then on maternity leave I’d take the opportunity to munch through an entire packet of KitKats in one sitting, followed by a big dinner too.”
As her children got older, Lucy said her obesity was brought into stark reality at the school gates.
“Standing there alongside all the slimmer mums, I felt so inadequate.
“Sometimes I’d even be a little bit late on purpose, so I didn’t have to face such a crowd.
“But, on the two days a week I worked in the school as a teaching assistant, I couldn’t ignore hearing comments from the kids about my weight problem.
“I would tell myself not to get too upset, but those comments still stuck in my mind.”
Then Lucy joined a Slimming World class in March 2013, after hearing colleagues recommend the diet plan.
She learnt about swapping her favourite chocolate treats for healthy snacks, and adding more vegetables at dinner time.
“In my first week I lost 4lbs, by cutting out the KitKats and sticking to healthy meals,” she said.
“I couldn’t believe it. I decided I wanted to lose a stone by my 30th birthday, which was six months away.
“I knew it would be a challenge, but I was determined. In fact I lost four stone by my birthday, and carried on losing from there.”
Lucy is now 10st 3lbs lighter than her all time high of 19 stone.
She’s swapped her size 24 baggy trousers for size eight slim fitting jeans and tops.
But Lucy also credits the plan for helping her to enjoy new experiences.
“With Emily and Ben I missed out on things like taking them swimming and getting involved at toddler groups.
“It was partly the fear of humiliation that held me back, but also the physical effort required to get down into a comfy position to play on the floor.
“As they got older, it was always Andy that had to take them on rollercoasters on family days out. I was terrified of getting stuck.
“I was determined that things would be different for Sophie, my youngest.
“Now I’ve lost ten stone, we love going to the swimming pool. I can run around to play with all three of my children too.”
She said it is her family’s pride in her achievements that helps to keep her on track.
“I made a before and after board, and the kids were only too happy to help,” Lucy said.
“Ben drew a picture of his old fat, unhappy mummy compared to his new slim and smiling mummy.
“Losing the weight has made such a difference at school too. Some of the children don’t even recognise me, and the mums have started commenting on my new slim figure.
“I’ll never go back to being ‘fat Mrs Penneck’ again.”
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