A woman who went from a size 30 to a size eight says she has finally found the love of her life – and now her mum doesn’t even recognise her.
Elizabeth Watkins, 38, struggled to walk or stand when she weighed 26st 9lb at her heaviest and cut herself off from the outside world to avoid strangers’ stares and pity.
The internal recruitment consultant, from Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, has since lost an incredible 15st.
She had struggled with her weight since she was a child, growing up in a mixed Turkish and Armenian family which meant that many traditions and celebrations were marked with food.
Elizabeth realised she couldn’t carry on as she was and knew she had to change her habits to lose weight to become healthier, so in May 2017 she decided to have a gastric bypass.
After surgery, with determination she ate just 700 calories every single day for an entire year to bring down her weight.
This helped her to lose an impressive one stone a month and after a year she continued at just 1,200 calories to lose the rest of the weight.
Within just 18 months she lost an incredible 15st and Elizabeth now weighs a much healthier 11st 8lb and wears a slim UK size 8.
She also found the love of her life and the two love birds have just got engaged.
Elizabeth said: “I’ve been large all my life including throughout my childhood. A lot of factors for this were due to eating food for comfort during both bad times and in celebration at good times.
“Also, food was very important culturally. When my parents divorced, I was indulged in even more foods.
“I used to hide away from others, and I built myself a safe world where I interacted only with people who knew me. I abstained from anything that would put me in new surroundings.
“As I grew, I found it hard to work, stand or sit unsupported for anything more than an hour.
“I found it hard to get out of bed or off sofas without an effort on my part. As I grew, I just stayed in denial telling myself that I didn’t want to do any of those things anyway.
“I never really had a meaningful relationship. I didn’t have enough confidence in myself to find someone and I believed no one would find me attractive.
“Although I was lucky to not hear negative remarks from people, I did receive stares and it felt awful when strangers gave me looks of pity.”
She added: “I was skipping breakfast and then eating two sandwiches, a big bag of crisps and chocolate bar for lunch. In the afternoon I ate cake and biscuits with a cup of tea with three sugars.
“Then for dinner I had two large adult portions of home cooked food, ready meals or takeaway. I would fill in lots of gaps with more sweets, chocolates or ice cream.
“I knew I couldn’t keep going on as I had before. I’d seen a friend who successfully lost weight following a gastric bypass.
“I weighed 26st 9lb and I decided to have the same operation myself on 20th May 2017.
“I didn’t rely on the surgery to be a magic cure. I overhauled my entire relationship with food.
“In my first year I religiously stuck to only 700 calories a day with 70g of protein. I managed to lose one stone every month with this approach. I relaxed a bit to 1,200 calories a day to lose the last three stone.”
Elizabeth said: “I’m a UK dress size 8/10 and I’m happy to also say that I’ve since fallen in love and we just got engaged.
“Now I stick to eating at the same times each day.
“At 8.30am I’ll have coffee without sugar, Activia yoghurt, a plum, a clementine and handful of grapes.
“At 11 I have a bowl of M&S Golden Syrup Porridge with semi-skimmed milk, a handful of blueberries and a cup of tea with sweetener.
“At 1.30pm I’ll have a mixed salad with lemon dressing, a pack of quavers, a pear and a diet Coke.
“At 4.30 I have a cup of tea with sweetener with one light digestive biscuit. At 6.30 I have an apple.
“Then at 8pm I have a normal dinner with very little oil and a smaller bowl. At 9.30 I have a small bag of Haribo or one Lindt chocolate ball.”
She added: “This might not seem the healthiest diet to have but denying myself of the things I craved meant I only lasted a week then binged. My way, I don’t deny myself anything but everything is in moderation.”
Elizabeth said that since she lost the weight she is totally unrecognisable and she has also managed to reconnect with two lost friends.
She adds that losing weight has completely transformed her life to being healthier and more mobile, to finally having the confidence to make new friends that will last a life time.
She said: “People just don’t recognise me anymore. Even my own mother doesn’t, she walked right past me.
“Also, it’s been really great to reconnect with two old lost friends. It took me a long time to realise that the breakdown in our friendship was due to me.
“I watched them move forward in their own lives, they got married, had children and I wasn’t the supportive friend they deserved.
“Losing weight has transformed every aspect of my life.
“I’ve been able to go out in the world, travel, walk 100,000 steps in a week like it’s nothing. I’ve made lifelong friendships with previous strangers going through the same journey.
“I feel alive, like I can do anything. I don’t look at it as though I’ve lost 15st, I see it as I’ve gained a life and I intend to live it to the full.
“Nobody can make this decision for you, you need to make it for yourself, but there is a world of support out there for you when you are ready.
“What works for one person is not necessarily the same for others. When I included exercise, seeing the weight increase on the scales put me down.
“I know it might have been muscle gain, but I really needed to see the scale to move down not up. I changed to just having more of an ‘active lifestyle’ and this really worked for me.”