A caregiver who battled anorexia in her teens but rose to 20 stones as an adult was so determined to be “fit at 40” that she shed six stones, overcame her food demons, and got a job as a weight loss coach.
Amy Rowlands, now 41, of Grimsby, Lincolnshire, gurgling on pizza, cookies, and a bottle of wine a night, rose to size 24, after struggling with weight problems for years.
As a caregiver for her partner Neil Armstrong, 44, who has a long-term illness, she was approaching 40 when she decided things had to change and joined a weight loss group in WW – she dropped five clothing sizes in seven months and got a job in helping other dieters lose weight.
Now at 5ft 9in, weighing 13st 4lb and wearing size 14, Amy, who has four stepchildren, shares her story while singer Adele posted a photo of her own stunning transformation as she celebrated her 32nd birthday in lockdown, said she: “When I reached 19 and a half stone, I stopped giving and didn’t take care of myself.
“I would never look in the mirror and my confidence was on the bottom.
“I put my life on hold. I said to myself, “Well, I go for a new job when I lose weight.” ”
Amy continued, “I sang in a band and quit, but told myself I would do it again after I lost weight.
“I’d put my head in the sand. People around me would gently say I should lose weight, but I would just rub it off. ‘
Amy’s unhealthy relationship with food started when she was just 12 and gained some ‘puppy fat’ – which prompted her to lose weight and sparked a two-year battle with anorexia nervosa, starting when she was 13.
“My weight problems got out of hand and I was going to go from one extreme to another,” she recalled.
“I weighed five stones and after being admitted to a special teen section, that helped me get sorted.
“After having anorexia, I went the other way and I was gaining weight.”
She said, “When I was in my twenties, I managed to lose seven stones by dieting.
“But I put it back on, and in my 30s it went up to more than 20 stones – lost nine more stones by dieting before putting it all back on.
“It would never stay out. Life would get in the way and I would put on the pounds again. I would deny how big I got and my weight got out of hand. ”
Eating calorie-laden foods like pizza, as well as snacking on chocolate and chips, with little focus on portion control, didn’t help.
Amy said, “I ate six cookies in the morning and after dinner a bag of kettle chips for the whole family.
“I also drank a bottle of wine in the evening. ‘
With a body mass index (BMI) – used to measure a healthy weight – of 40.4, compared to the NHS recommended range between 18.5 and 24.9, Amy was classified as obese.
But when her 30s came to an end, weighing 19 and a half stones and wearing a size 24 dress, she was determined not to be “fat at 40”.
And when her partner was hospitalized for a month with a breast infection, it served as a real wake-up call, forcing Amy to take a close look at her own health.
“As soon as he got fired, I thought,” I’m not putting it off anymore. I have to sort myself out. “It was a wake-up call for me,” she said.
“I joined WW and started cutting my calories using the point system. It was about changing my lifestyle. I am an all or nothing person so took it very seriously.
“I started losing weight pretty quickly – about five or six pounds in the first week, which spurred me on.”
She added, “I was in control of something because I could see the results of the changes I had made.
“Within seven or eight months I saw and felt a different person. It was amazing.
“By January this year I had lost 6lb 3lb, now I weigh 13lb 4lb and wear size 14. I hope to reach my 10lb 7lb target by the end of the summer.”
As an added incentive, Amy put a pound in a jar for every pound she lost, meaning she could soon treat herself to a brand new wardrobe.
“If you’re taller, dress for your size instead of your taste or style, but if you’re smaller, dress for yourself,” she said.
“My confidence has really grown. I can look proudly in the mirror. ‘
“I like to get dressed and go out before I make up an excuse not to go out before I lose weight,” Amy explained.
Best of all, losing weight has given Amy a great new job opportunity.
She said, “I had taken care of my partner full time, but I think I used that as an excuse because I didn’t have the confidence to go to work.”
Amy added, “In the new year, my WW coach asked if I’d ever thought of becoming a coach myself, so I did – because I really wanted to share my story and encourage others.
“I think it’s really worth it and I know it makes so much difference when you are coached by someone who has experienced the same thing.”
Now Amy sticks to healthy meals, eats porridge for breakfast and chicken or fish for dinner, and trains three times a week.
“I have a fitness machine at home,” she said. “I also have a fitness hula hoop and do house training three times a week and go for a walk with our Golden Labrador dog Whammo.
“Now I want other people to know that whatever happened, they can change too.
“Today I have a jump in my step. Before I lost weight I felt so slow, but now I have a lot of energy. “
She said, “I don’t think you realize how much that extra weight affects your life until you lose it.
“I wore a jacket 12 months a year, just to cover my body, but not anymore.
“I can’t wait to wear shorts in the summer – if only to go in the garden.”
- Breakfast – toast, butter and jam, sweet tea
- Lunch – Fried egg on toast or toastie with cheese and ham
- Dinner – Pizza or curry, or fish and chips and a bottle of wine
- Snacks – Six cookies, large bag of kettle chips, chocolate, candy,
- Breakfast – porridge, fruit and yogurt
- Lunch – Sandwich thinner, ham salad
- Dinner – Chicken and new potatoes, vegetables or steamed fish
- Snacks – WW bar or bag of chips