How I lost 18st with Slim­ming World

Max­ine Wren’s doc­tor warned her she could die if she didn’t lose weight, so she took dras­tic ac­tion...

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I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber the day I be­came a mem­ber of Slim­ming World. I was ter­ri­fied. I’d at­tempted to join two weeks be­fore, but lost my nerve be­fore I’d even got through the door.

At 27st 12lb and a size 34, I was con­vinced I’d be the big­gest per­son there and ev­ery­one would laugh at me. I wasn’t even sure their scales would be strong enough to weigh me. But join­ing that group was the best thing I’ve done – in fact, I think it saved my life.

I was born with Blount’s dis­ease, which meant my left leg curved to the right. It was re­ally dif­fi­cult for me to walk, and I needed three op­er­a­tions, at the ages of six, eight and 12, to straighten it.

So, while my class­mates were play­ing in the sun, I was in­side our house in Ch­ester-le- Street, Durham, with my leg in a cast from hip to toe, watch­ing Dis­ney movies with my younger sis­ter, Adele.

But, if I’m hon­est, that wasn’t the only rea­son I put on weight. Even then, I loved eat­ing. As a tod­dler, I’d dunk bis­cuit af­ter bis­cuit in my dad’s cof­fee.

There were al­ways sweets and choco­lates in the house and, by my teens, I could pol­ish off a whole packet of bis­cuits. By the time I went to col­lege at 16 to be­come a nurs­ery nurse, I was a size 24.

I was painfully aware of my size. I only ever had one or two close friends and, when­ever I was in­vited out, I’d make an ex­cuse.

I was con­stantly in pain. My chest, legs and back ached, and I wouldn’t even try to walk any­where – I al­ways got a taxi.

At 18, I got a job and moved into my own flat. With no one around to check my eat­ing, things got worse. Sug­ary ce­re­als, choco­late, crisps, takeaways, ba­con sand­wiches – I’d scoff them all. My doc­tor ad­vised me re­peat­edly that los­ing weight would help my leg, but I didn’t know how to.

Through­out my 20s, I had re­la­tion­ships but, look­ing back, it’s clear they weren’t healthy. I never asked my­self if I liked the men – all that mat­tered was that they liked me.

By the time I was 32, my weight was out of con­trol. At 29st 12lb and 5ft 2in, I was given crutches to help me walk.

‘ You’re go­ing to end up in a wheel­chair,’ my doc­tor said. ‘ You could even die.’

He re­ferred me for a gas­tric by­pass and pre­scribed tablets to stop my body ab­sorb­ing fat. It was aw­ful. I lost 2st in two months, but I couldn’t ven­ture far from a toi­let and my hair fell out. Watch­ing a film about the weight­loss surgery, I be­came ter­ri­fied that I’d die on the op­er­at­ing ta­ble.

Then my sis­ter, Adele, broke some good news. ‘I’m preg­nant,’ she said. I was thrilled, but it made me re­alise that I couldn’t risk my life and, maybe, not sur­vive to see Adele’s child grow up. I had to lose weight, but not by surgery.

Days later, I got a leaflet from Slim­ming World through my door. It seemed like fate… but my con­fi­dence was at an all-time low.

I fi­nally made it through the door in March 2012, and re­alised my wor­ries were silly. The scales could take my weight (27st 12lb), and the con­sul­tant made me feel in­stantly wel­come. I wasn’t even the big­gest per­son there.

But, although I fol­lowed the plan, I was con­vinced I hadn’t lost any weight. ‘I’ve eaten more than

usual,’ I thought, glumly.

In fact, I’d dropped 12lb! From then on, there was no stop­ping me. By the time my nephew was born in Novem­ber 2012, I’d lost 8st.

The next year, at 19st and a size 18, I joined an on­line dat­ing site and met John, now 40. I was hon­est about my weight loss, and he said he ad­mired my de­ter­mi­na­tion.

Our first phone chat lasted for 15 hours, and I knew he was spe­cial. Within three months, I’d moved into his house in Hartle­pool. We got en­gaged in Novem­ber 2013.

How­ever, happy with John, I slipped back into my old bad habits. By Jan­uary 2015, I was back up to 23st 11lb. Dev­as­tated, I found a new Slim­ming World group and, with John’s sup­port, I re­gained con­trol of my eat­ing.

By our wed­ding, in Au­gust 2017, I was 11st 12lb and a size 12. I felt truly beau­ti­ful.

Now, at 38, I’ve grown an inch in height, be­cause I’m no longer be­ing phys­i­cally held down by my weight. I go swim­ming, take my nephew to the park and, apart from my leg, I’m no longer in pain. I even came 10th in Slim­ming World’s global Great­est Loser com­pe­ti­tion.

I’ve been left with loose skin, but have been ac­cepted to have skin-re­moval surgery. I need to lose an­other stone first, but I know now there’s noth­ing I can’t achieve!

For more info, visit slim­ming­

‘I had to lose weight – but not through surgery’

Max­ine’s weight was out of con­trol. At 32, she hit nearly 30st She’d got down to 11st 12lb by the time of her wed­ding to John

Max­ine was spurred on to lose weight by her lit­tle nephew

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