Real life: So fat I ran out of oxy­gen

Rosie Horner, 25, dived into the wa­ter not real­is­ing her size was about to put her at risk

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Look­ing back at snaps of my­self snorkelling and scuba div­ing, I can’t help but cringe. The sight of my 21st body sus­pended in the wa­ter is so em­bar­rass­ing.

It was Au­gust 2013, and I was in the mid­dle of a dream in­tern­ship with a con­ser­va­tion foun­da­tion in Tener­ife. As a bud­ding marine bi­ol­o­gist, it had been my life­long dream to marvel at the colour­ful corals of the At­lantic Ocean. So de­spite my huge size, I was de­ter­mined not to miss out.

Grow­ing up, I had al­ways been a big­ger girl. Work­ing in a bar­gain su­per­store as a teen meant I had ac­cess to lots of cheap junk food. So when I went to univer­sity, I was al­ready a size 22. At 5ft 5in, I was far too big for my height. But I con­vinced my­self I didn’t care, and threw my­self into stu­dent life.

Gorg­ing on large pep­per­oni piz­zas and cheesy chips, my weight spi­ralled. And by the time I landed my in­tern­ship,

I was a size 26. Even so, it didn’t oc­cur to me my weight would be an is­sue – un­til we did our first scuba dive.

Cram­ming my flabby curves into my huge wet­suit was ag­o­nis­ing and re­ally em­bar­rass­ing. Even­tu­ally, the three other divers had to help. But the mo­ment

I hit the wa­ter my wor­ries evap­o­rated. The weight­less­ness was eu­phoric.

In deep wa­ter

As our group sunk down into the wa­tery depths, the out­line of a sunken ship­wreck started to emerge. It looked in­cred­i­ble, cov­ered in jagged out­crops of mul­ti­coloured coral. I was so en­tranced I for­got to check my oxy­gen lev­els.

It wasn’t un­til we were 20 min­utes into the dive that I de­cided to look. See­ing the nee­dle point­ing firmly into the red ‘dan­ger’ zone, panic struck me.

Tap­ping my in­struc­tor on his shoul­der, I ges­tured to the gage hys­ter­i­cally. In a mo­ment, he’d grabbed me by the straps of my jacket and was haul­ing me to the sur­face.

Break­ing the wa­ter line, my ears thud with pain from the pres­sure change. As I spat out my Breathal­yser, I took a deep breath. ‘I thought you said we had an hour’s worth of oxy­gen in our tanks,’ I panted. But the in­struc­tor’s face said it all. ‘It’s be­cause of your, erm, size,’ he said sheep­ishly. ‘You use more oxy­gen when you’re big­ger.’ My cheeks burned crim­son as I re­alised my weight had shat­tered my dreams. Scram­bling back onto the boat, I had to wait un­til the other divers fin­ished their ex­pe­di­tion. Al­though ev­ery­one told me not to feel em­bar­rassed, I couldn’t shake my scuba shame. Flick­ing through the pho­tos on my un­der­wa­ter dig­i­tal cam­era that night, I came across that snorkelling photo. Sud­denly my size seemed so blind­ingly ob­vi­ous. That’s when I vowed to change my ways.

Back in the UK, I spent the next three years try­ing ev­ery diet go­ing. But I couldn’t shed the pounds no mat­ter what.

Then in Jan­uary 2016, I was ac­cepted to study a PHD in Marine Bi­ol­ogy and was given a free gym mem­ber­ship. It was just the push I needed.

I’d read that it took 21 days to form a new habit. So ev­ery day for the next month I com­mit­ted my­self to do­ing at least 15 min­utes in the gym.

‘I was liv­ing on soups, sal­ads and fresh fruit’

Hit­ting the gym

The first time I went, I thought I was go­ing to pass out on the cross trainer. But by the end of the month I was crunch­ing out a solid 30 min­utes, fol­lowed by a weights ses­sion af­ter­wards.

I over­hauled my eat­ing habits too, so that I was liv­ing on a diet of soups, sal­ads and fresh fruit. It was hard go­ing, but I was de­ter­mined. In four weeks I’d lost a stone.

I was so proud I started doc­u­ment­ing my progress on In­sta­gram, post­ing pic­tures of my nipped-in waist and toned arms from all the weights I’d been do­ing. Read­ing through my fol­low­ers’ mes­sages gave me the mo­ti­va­tion. By Au­gust 2016, I weighed 16st, and the weight kept fall­ing off.

Liv­ing the dream

Now I can fi­nally slip into a size 14 wet­suit. At 13st, I’m much hap­pier and health­ier than I ever was be­fore. In fact, I’ve just re­turned from a three-week scuba div­ing course in Bali, with a whole new set of snaps to re­place those aw­ful snorkelling and scuba div­ing ones. I’m hop­ing to get a job at a con­ser­va­tion foun­da­tion in Hon­duras next year. It means I’ll spend my days div­ing through wrecks and corals – a dream job. And some­thing that’s only pos­si­ble be­cause of my weight loss.

Fol­low Rosie on @rosiesweight­lossjour­ney

Age 20 Size 26

Age 25 Size 14

Los­ing weight has opened up a whole new world

At a size 20, an in­struc­tor had to haul Rosie to the sur­face. But now she can en­joy longer dives

Rosie was mor­ti­fied by what hap­pened in Tener­ife

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