Lottie: I’m confident and happy after losing over 7st
Weight loss: 7st 7lb
Was: 19st 10lb
Now: 12st 3lb
Walking down the aisle in my dream size-12 dress is a moment I will never forget.
Lottie used to hide feelings of panic, shame and humiliation behind a bubbly front, but she has transformed thanks to her inner strength and an amazing support network. I met four of my best friends - Jess, Jayne, Hannah and Emma - at Sheffield Hallam University when I was already hovering around the 18st mark. They were all so glamorous and I was flattered they'd chosen me to be their friend. But while they seemed to look past my weight, I was crippled by it, especially when it came to going out.
Faced with humiliation I loved fashion but, at my size, there was a thin line between looking stylish and stupid. Sometimes I'd dissolve into a puddle of tears and sweat before I'd even reached the front door. On one occasion when I did make it out in a daring leopard-print dress, I climbed out of the taxi to hear a lad say to one of his friends, 'Look! A fat beast has just been released from the zoo.' I stumbled back into the car and asked the driver to take me home, my heart thumping with the humiliation. I didn't wear that dress again.
Playing the stereotype I didn't want anyone feeling sorry for me so I played to the stereotype: forever bubbly, outgoing, a bit of a joker. Relationships came and went but I felt I didn't deserve love and let men treat me badly. I went into fashion marketing after university and met Pete on a Facebook dating app. I was 19st and a size 24 - so I worried about how he would feel when he saw me in the flesh. But he set me straight from the off. 'I don't have a problem with the way you look,' he said.
Something clicked I was almost 20st when we moved together to Halifax for work. It was then that something clicked and the move triggered a determination to take control of my life. It took a bit of courage to walk into my first Wellness Workshop, but the Wellness Coach, Kirstie, fuelled me with drive to succeed. My biggest issue was portion size, so I focused on limiting that. And I learned to shop for food weekly and sensibly, filling up on high-protein foods and only allowing for indulgences if they were within my budget.
The motivation to success My friends were fantastic. We'd meet once a month at each other's houses for a big catch up and they'd bombard me with compliments as the pounds dropped off. Their support and care – and the love Pete gave me – filled me with all the motivation I needed to carry on.
More energy My loose-fitting outfits were banished forever, sold on eBay or taken to the charity shop. For Pete, what I look like has never been a big deal, but he does love that we can now go running together and I definitely have more energy.
Comfortable in my own skin When Pete proposed, Jess, Jayne, Hannah and Emma were my first choice for bridesmaids. Walking down the aisle in my dream size-12 dress is a moment I will never forget. I finally felt an equal; not under layers of clothes, but a confident, happy woman, comfortable in her own skin.
3 things that helped me on my journey:
1. My wedding dress It took 14 months and as many fittings to get the dress right. Each time I went, Helen, my wonderful dressmaker, had to take off more inches! The dress became a physical testimony to my weight-loss journey. On the big day I was 11st 8lb. I put on a bit of weight after the wedding, but I'm back on track now.
2. Zara, Topshop and River Island I've always loved fashion and one of the hardest things about being bigger was not being able to buy the trendy clothes I loved. Going into these shops when I was losing weight was a real motivator – and now I can't keep away!
3. My montage of photos When Pete and I got together, I put nine of my favourite pictures of us into a photo frame and whenever I look at it now, hanging in our bedroom, it reminds me how lucky I am to have met him and also how much I have changed physically.