A mother who had undergone two surgical emergencies lost five stones in a year after her ordeal inspired her to become super fit.
Pregnant math teacher Mari Wyn, 33, from Bangor, was rushed to hospital on January 6, 2018 with excruciating pain, with a ruptured caecum.
Then, after removing the damaged organ, hospital surgeons delivered the baby Gwion five weeks early, via caesarean section, because they felt it was the safest option to protect the lives of both mother and child.
“I was petrified on my way to the hospital and was in a lot of pain,” recalls Mari, whose husband, Gerallt, 33, is a construction engineer.
“I knew myself and my baby could be in serious danger.
“Everything was so vague. When I came to, I had no idea if I had a baby or not. ‘
Fortunately, little Gwion had arrived safely, weighing 5 pounds 12 oz, and shortly afterwards both mother and baby were allowed to go home.
Mari was given three months to fully recover, which she usually spent ‘stuck on the couch’ because she couldn’t take good care of her newborn son, but trusted Gerallt to take care of both.
But her recovery marked the beginning of a new dawn for Mari, who swore in April 2018, when an unsuitable size 18, got the best shape of her life, so she never missed a moment of her son’s life again.
Mari explained, “It was heartbreaking not to take care of Gwion for the first few months after surgery.
“I have always been a yo-yo dieter and have never been a person who trained a lot. But those 12 weeks were a real wake-up call. I was so weak that I could hardly bend over to pick up my son.
“It made me realize that in order to be Gwion’s best mom when I recovered, I had to be as fit and healthy as possible, so I never missed moments with him again.”
But losing weight meant changing the habits of a lifetime for Mari, a ‘serial yo-yo dieter,’ whose weight had risen to nearly 15 stone.
She said, “All my life I’ve struggled with my weight and yo-yo diet and I’ve never been able to stick to a weight loss plan for long.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had enough motivation or willpower.”
At 5ft 3 and weighing 14 stone 12lbs, Mari had a body mass index (BMI) – used to measure a healthy weight – of 36.8, compared to the NHS recommended figure between 18.5 and 25, which means she was classified as obese.
But finally, her baby had given her the motivation to lose weight successfully.
“Having little Gwion was all the motivation I needed to make myself as fit and healthy as possible,” she said.
And by April 2019, Mari had shrunk from 14 stone 12 pounds to 10 stone, reaching her target weight.
But not satisfied with keeping her slim size 10 frame, Mari had shed another half stone in April this year – and even ran her first half marathon in Cardiff in September.
“This is the thinnest I’ve ever been in my life,” she said. “I reached my target weight a year ago and I lost half a stone last year.”
She added, “I completely changed my life. I never thought I could run a few miles, let alone a half marathon. I feel incredible and in the best shape to be the best mom . ”
Mari’s dramatic transformation is thanks to following a WW eating plan and adding exercise to her routine.
But most of the time, she credits a change in mentality to maintain her weight loss a year later.
“My way of thinking has changed forever. I will never go back the way I was,” she said. “I still enjoy food and the occasional treat, but now it’s all about balance and making healthy choices.”
Mari had struggled with her weight throughout her adult life, even though she was the hardest in April 2018.
She recalled, “When I wasn’t trying to diet, I didn’t have the healthiest eating habits. Before I started WW, breakfast was usually a bowl filled with sugary grain – I’d eat as many as I could fit into it. “
She continued, “Lunch was usually a meal deal where I would buy a sandwich, chocolate, and a packet of chips.
“And dinner was something carby – like pasta with a lot of sauce and a slice of bread. And my portion sizes were too big because I had the same dinner as my husband. “
“For pudding, I could polish a whole bag of Maltesers or Minstrels at once.”
Stressful situations would also prompt her to eat comfortably.
“If I had a stressful day at work I’d come home to order a takeaway and rinse it off with a bottle of wine and chocolates,” she said. “If I was stressed I’d eat snacks too – I’d eat chips and chocolate and never think how many calories I actually ate.
“I felt better at the time, but it was really only a short-term solution.”
And although she was very happy to be able to get Gwion home, she was still struggling as she recovered herself.
“It was very hard, I was a new mother, but I could hardly do anything for my son,” she continued.
“Because I couldn’t do anything, my husband took over all the cooking, and it was a lot of quick, easy meals like toast, pasta or microwave meals. And because I couldn’t move a lot, my weight started to creep up.”
Her turning point came when she had Gwion and, for three months in motherhood, joined her local WW class.
“I wanted to get back into shape to be the best mom possible and as a kickstart I gave myself a month to lose a stone,” she explained.
“I joined WW and I followed the plan to perfection and I lost 9 pounds within the first week.”
Substituting sugary grains and snacks for three balanced meals a day, Mari says the weight fell quickly.
She explained, “It was very easy to follow because all meals were very tasty – breakfast was usually eggs on toast, lunch was chicken salad or chicken wrap, and dinner was usually fish or meat with some healthy carbohydrates and plenty of vegetables.”
When she forgave one stone in one month, when Mari went on vacation to an all-inclusive hotel in Cyprus with her husband Gerallt and Gwion in May, she still adhered to the healthy eating plan.
She said, “Usually when I went to an all-inclusive, I liked to eat everything I saw. I would have the attitude,” I’ve already paid for this, so I’m going to eat it. “
“But at the time I had changed my mind and I didn’t think about grabbing the fruit and yogurt for breakfast.
“For lunch I would have fruits and salads, and for dinner I would eat what I wanted, but I make sure I have smaller portions.”
And since she lost weight, Mari hasn’t looked back – not even adding movement to her routine, something she had never done before.
She said, “I started jogging, something I had never done before in my life, and I started walking the baby two or three miles every day, so the weight just seemed to come off.”
And in March 2019, just a month before she reached her target weight, Mari ran her very first 10 km.
“Exercise is not only good for weight loss, it is also good for your mind,” she said. “Jogging has kept me on track and has helped me stay positive and motivated throughout my weight loss journey.”
Then, in September, she ran the Cardiff Half Marathon.
“I never thought I could ever run a half marathon,” she said. “It was a great experience to run past the crowd and Gwion and Gerallt were also there to cheer me up.”
Being an accomplished marathoner has also helped when it comes to running around behind her son.
“Gwion is not sitting still, he is constantly running around doing things,” she said. “If I had not lost the weight, there is no way to keep up with him.
“Now I am fitter than ever before and can be the best mom for my son. When I couldn’t take care of Gwion in those few weeks, I really had to think about taking care of myself and my own health.”
She continued, “Even though I had tried to lose weight before I never had the right attitude or motivation to do it. But my motivation son put me on the right track because I wanted nothing to be the best mom anymore.
“Now I’m in the best shape of my life and all it took was a change in mentality, a healthy eating plan and some exercise. I prove that the WW plan really works.”
Ray Kaur, a nutritionist at WW, said that staying motivated can be challenging because our brains can hold on to the idea that we will get our hard work back immediately.
She explained, “While it’s normal for our levels of motivation to drop, which can mean falling into old habits or falling into temptations, it’s important to remember that it’s not a permanent state.
“If you remember” why “- the goal that drives you – and take small, measurable steps, you can achieve your overall goal.
“Studies have shown the effect that a few small changes can have on our overall well-being.
“This can be reflected in changes to our routines, such as experimenting with new recipes, trying an online exercise class to shake up workouts or even going to bed a little earlier, which means you feel more refreshed the next day.”