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
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