Ken Davies was almost as round as he was tall and couldn’t get through his mother’s front door. The former solider weighed nearly 31 stone at the time.
“My mother looked at me and started crying. She said to me: ‘What have you done to yourself?’. It flicked a switch in my head, it really upset me. I had to go through the patio doors instead,” said Ken.
Nearly half of people have admitted to piling on the pounds during the coronavirus lockdown which has seen many of us stuck at home and out of our normal routines.
But some, like Ken, have been determined to buck the trend and are now half the size they were after turning their back on comfort eating and bad habits. Rather than exercising less, they have built a new routine into their day so they have more svelte figures with which to greet the world as restrictions ease.
But it hasn’t been easy – some have had plenty to cope with on their journeys, including fighting coronavirus, and the death of loved ones.
Here are some of the best lockdown weightloss stories…
Scott Fletcher would binge on junk food in work and would devour whatever was put in front of him at home. He tipped the scales at 26 stone and the 40-year-old dad, from New Tredegar, would “pig out” at any opportunity. He would do little exercise. But he had a complete change of heart back in March and he is now 10st lighter.
He said: “I would eat whatever was put in front of me and I would go to work and pig out. There was a burger van around the corner from work which I would get food from. If it was there, I would eat it. I could eat as much as the next person if not more.”
Two years ago, the multi-skilled operative railway worker managed to lose seven stone before piling it all back on. But with the country put on lockdown and splitting from his partner, he took the opportunity to get outside and start walking.
He added: ”The weather was lovely so I kept walking. I could walk for miles. I joined a Facebook group that does Slimming World recipes and started cooking some of those and then someone mentioned the Couch to 5k app. I did week one and thought ‘this is too easy’ so I skipped to week five and I was doing it five times a week instead of three. I would finish work and go for a run. That was my life for about two or three months until I got to the point where I thought I could do it.”
Between March and November, he managed to shed six stone just by taking up running and switching his focus to healthy meals.
The downside? He’s had to buy a whole new wardrobe.
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Nia Gore has battled with her weight since she was just 12, but she has managed to shed an incredible six stone during lockdown and since the end of 2019. The mobile hairdresser, 43, from the Aberystwyth area, weighed 20st 4lbs by 2019, and admitted she couldn’t resist fish and chips.
Nia said: “I’ve always battled with my weight since I was about 12, I’ve always been somewhat overweight and over the years I’ve tried everything and anything, and then I’d get to a stage when I’d think I can’t be bothered and it fades out.”
She said she struggled with her weight during the time when her husband Neville, who was also known as Dusty, fell seriously ill in 2016. Healthy eating became less of a priority as she ensured Dusty could enjoy his food as he battled against throat cancer.
Nia said: “My weight has always been up and down but it’s from that time that it went up, and up and up, with no down. I know it’s an excuse but there wasn’t enough time because I was balancing trying to see him and trying to give the other half of myself to my daughter and it was just so hard to think about eating healthily.
“We’d always go out for food, I’d try and encourage him to eat but it was not doing me any good at all, I was eating large amounts with him.”
Nia said: “I never really felt judged because people would say, rather than that I was overweight, they’d say ‘you always look so smart’ and ‘you’ve always got a smile on your face’.
“I’m a happy-go-lucky person, whatever my weight, I’m still the same jolly person I was even after losing this weight. The main thing that used to frustrate me was when I was going out, that I never had clothes or looked as tidy as I wanted to. I didn’t have the trendy clothes that a slimmer person could have.”
She added: “The first lockdown came and having all this time on my hands I thought, ‘you can either sit and watch TV and start eating or you can stay outside and enjoy the freedom’ and that’s what I did.”
Tracking her progress, including weight loss, amount of exercise and food eaten via an app, has been one of the methods Nia has found that’s helped her, coupled with the support from the Weight Watchers Facebook group, and her new found love of walking.
Amber Lewis has defied lockdown to lose an incredible five stone and six dress sizes to get into shape. The Senedd worker, 26, from Port Talbot, got her eating under control and stopped indulging in midnight snacks.
She would suffer breathlessness when she walked as she tipped the scales at 15st 3lbs in January of last year but now she weighs just 10st 5lbs.
She would tuck into takeaways and pizzas three times a week but now she preps and cooks her own food.
Amber said: “When the first lockdown happened, I made a choice – I could sit at home working behind my desk eating myself silly and pretending I hadn’t just demolished a pack of custard creams with my tea, or I could use the time and for once in my life do something for me.
“It gave me more time to focus on myself and time to think. I had time to prep my food and think about what I was eating. I realised I was never going to get this time back and I was determined to come out of lockdown lighter than I went into it and I did – since joining Slimming World I’ve lost nearly 5st.”
She added: “Living on my own, I would get up in the middle of the night and raid the cupboards for mini-midnight feasts of bowls of cereal, cookies and lots of bread. There was only the dog to see what I was doing, and he wasn’t going to say anything! My BMI was in the obese range and my weight had a big impact on my asthma, which I’ve had since birth. If I ever tried to go for a long walk, I would have to stop numerous times to get my breath back.”
She revealed how she tested positive for coronavirus at Christmas, but still managed to keep on track.
“Everyone focuses on how you look when you lose weight but for me the biggest difference is how I feel. My BMI is back in the ‘green zone’ and I am classed as ‘healthy’ for my height and weight.”
Liz Murphy revealed she was determined to use lockdown to turn her life around. The mum-of-two, 39, from Tumble in Carmarthenshire, would spend nearly every day in bed, unable to get up, but was on a mission to shed a third of her body weight.
She said that after getting married as a teenager and starting to work at her husband’s chippy it led her to develop a passion for deep frying everything and she ended up tipping the scales at 18 stone.
She revealed she felt trapped in her own body and was dogged by migraines and was lacking in energy. She also struggled to get out of the car when she dropped her daughters off to school.
“I was trapped,” said Liz, who now works as a full time slimming consultant. “I felt there was no way out, I was alone with my children. I couldn’t walk anywhere because everything ached. But I wanted to be a healthy mum to my two daughters who were younger then, and I wanted to know I was going to be around a bit longer as they grew up.”
Slowly but surely, with the support of her group at Slimming World, Liz lost the weight and even signed up to Couch to 5K and started running. She also fell in love and eventually got engaged to be married.
Ironically, it was while spending more and more time in the car as a Slimming World consultant, that she found herself living off meal deals from petrol garages as she went back to her old ways.
Her world also unravelled at the start of 2020 when her mum suddenly died and before she knew it she had put all her weight back on.
“When my mum died, that was when I struggled. Food was my emotional crutch.” The migraines were back and she was struggling with her health. It was at that point a doctor told her she was at risk of diabetes and should consider weight loss surgery, which came as a real shock. I was 39, with two young children and I just knew I had to change something,” she said.
“Surgery was a quick fix solution because the doctors could see how poorly I was. It was very tempting to take it but it’s such a drastic thing, so wasn’t an option in my mind. I was also engaged to Alastair and there was no way I was going to be a fat bride.”
“At the start of lockdown, I thought to myself I can come out of this nine stone heavier or I can lose weight,” Liz said.
She is now a much healthier weight of 13 stone but said she still had a few more pounds to shift.
Emily Parker decided she wanted to change her life and by the start of lockdown had shed almost half her body weight.
The mum, 22, from Glanaman, near Ammanford, took the decision to shed the pounds on New Year’s Eve, just hours before the clock struck midnight for the start of 2019. Earlier, her online order of tights had failed to arrive and when she realised she wouldn’t fit into her pal’s outfit she had to find something else to wear.
“I remember being so uncomfortable that night. I sat down in the corner most of the night, I was barely speaking and wouldn’t get up from the table because I didn’t like the way I looked and couldn’t fit between the tables. After that night, I got really sick of being ‘the fat friend,’ and decided to really go for it,” she said.
She was at her heaviest in 2018 and a size 28 and had been overweight since her teenage years, but put on more weight after the birth of her son, two-year-old Jaxson, eventually weighing 20 stone and four pounds.
“I put on weight after going to comprehensive school and having lunch money, going to the shop and buying things full of sugar. I had a real sweet tooth and loved chocolates, sweets and takeaways,” she said.
She added: “My breakfast could look like three bowls of sugary cereals like Coco Pops or something, or toast but instead of having two slices, I would have five,” she said.
“My lunch was usually a cheese toastie, grilled with butter and then in the evening we’d probably have a takeaway which could be a Chinese or kebab.”
After years of gorging on quick and easy takeaway meals while trying to look after her son, Emily set out a simple plan in January, 2019, to start counting her calories on app MyFitnessPal, to walk 10,000 steps a day, and to buy a dress that was a size 16 for a friend’s wedding in July.
“I was really surprised at how quickly the weight came off. I cut out bread and alcohol at the start and was just controlling my portion sizes and counting caloriees. I wasn’t doing loads of exercise but just making sure I got 10,000 steps in a day to keep active, and by the April, I had lost around five stone.”
Seven months into her new diet, Emily had lost seven stone and the size 16 dress for her friend’s wedding fitted her.
By March, 2020, Emily weighed 10 stone and eight pounds which meant she had lost nearly 10 stone, around half her body weight, in just over a year. Since then, despite the pressures of lockdown, she’s managed to stay fit and healthy.
She said her weight loss had totally changed her life.
“I was really so lazy before, I had to force myself to get up to the go to the toilet. I’d be out of breath running up the stairs or walking,” she said. I went from that to doing two 45-minute workouts a day and running for five miles.”
A man whose weight spiralled to nearly 31 stone and was so big he couldn’t get through his mother’s front door had a wake-up call when she feared he would die before her.
Veteran Ken Davies started piling on the pounds after the end of his 10-year Army career with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. as he was in and out of hospital due to slipped discs. Between 1991 and 1996 he was left wheelchair-bound as a result of his problems.
Ken’s weight was always around 13 to 14 stone in the Army, between 1981 and 1991, but by 2013 it was up to 30 stone and 8.5lbs. His mother Margaret Holborn, 77, was horrified and he was on a cocktail of tablets just to stay alive. His girth was almost the same as his height.
Ken, 57, of New Quay, said: “I was under the heart surgeon as there was so much fat around my heart, my valves weren’t closing. There was not enough oxygen going to my brain. I had 14 tablets a day to keep me alive, I was type two diabetes as well.”
He added: “When I was at my heaviest, I went to see my mum and I couldn’t get through her front door, she looked at me and started crying. She said to me: ‘What have you done to yourself?’. It flicked a switch in my head, it really upset me. I had to go through the patio doors instead.
“I was living in Birmingham at the time and found a Slimming World class. I remember the consultant saying to me, when I walked through the door, that they did not know whether to get an ambulance or a chair. Every week I was getting slimmer of the week, I was so heavy it was easy to lose an amount of weight. I was losing 5lbs a week by changing what I was eating.”
He also took up swimming again to help him to get back into shape in 2015. In the space of just a year he lost a staggering 14.5 stone.
It appeared he was well on the road to happiness as a year later he married Tracey, but tragically, on her 50th birthday, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. That was on January 3, 2017. Before the year was out he had lost her and it hit him hard.
“When it’s someone you love it’s totally different, I lost the plot. I put six stone back on and was up to 22 stone. I had the problem in the beginning with food, I was comfort eating, it was a really easy option.”
But he decided to take himself back to Slimming World in Llwyncelyn in Ceredigion in 2018. His weight loss journey was such a success that once again he had shed an incredible three stone by July of that year. But then he stopped again and the three stone he had lost was piled back on.
“In 2019, I went back to Slimming World. I was 22.5 stone then, I wanted to get my weight down. I got down to 15 stone that was the target I set. Since January, 2019 I have lost 8.5 stone – my total weight loss journey is 16 stone and five and a half pounds.
“That’s the total loss by the time I got there.”
His Army career took him across the world seeing him serve in the Falklands, Germany, Denmark, Norway and Belgium. And now he is back doing 14 mile or 10 mile hikes in a day along the coastal path. It has helped him to get down to 14 stone 4lbs during lockdown, but he is still keen to shift the remaining pounds to get to 14 stone.
He said: “I feel on top of the world, I am feeling as fit as I was in the Army. I feel absolutely amazing now. It’s nice to feel this way again. I am certainly not falling asleep and can get to the front door without worrying now. I can do at least an hour and a half of swimming.”
He added: “At my biggest I had a 60 inch waist – it was five foot – and I’m 5ft 8inches. I haven’t seen my mother since I lost all the weight again but the last time she saw me she thought I looked absolutely amazing. She’s happy.”