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...
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 slimmingworld.co.uk
‘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