Behind the photo: My 21st scuba shame
Rosie Horner dived into the water not realising her size was about to put her at risk
Looking back at this snap of me snorkelling, I cringe. The sight of my 21st body is embarrassing. It was August 2013, and I was in the middle of an 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 sea.
Yet by the time I’d gone to university two years earlier, I was a size 22. At 5ft 5in, I knew I was far too big for my height but I loved everything about student life from gorging on pizzas and cheesy chips, to downing sugary mojitos. My weight spiralled and by the time I landed my internship, I was a size 26. It never occurred to me my weight would be an issue – until we did our first dive.
After a morning of snorkelling and taking pictures, I couldn't wait to go deeper. But as I struggled to yank on my huge wetsuit for the dive, I was suddenly much more aware of my vast size. Luckily, when I hit the water my worries evaporated. The weightlessness was euphoric.
Facing the truth
As our group sunk down into the watery depths, a shipwreck emerged. It was covered in multicoloured coral. I was so entranced I forgot to check my oxygen level.
It wasn’t until we were 20 minutes into the dive that I looked. Seeing the needle in the red ‘danger’ zone, panic struck me. Tapping my instructor on his shoulder, I gestured to the gauge hysterically. In a moment he was hauling me to the surface.
Breaking the water line, my ears thudded with pain from the pressure change. ‘I thought you said we had an hour’s worth of oxygen in our tanks,’ I panted confusedly.
‘You use more oxygen when you’re bigger,’ he said sheepishly. Mortified, I scrambled back onto the boat to wait for the others. Although everyone told me not to feel embarrassed, I couldn’t shake my shame. Then flicking through the photos on my underwater digital camera that night, I came across that awful snorkelling picture. That’s when I vowed to change my ways.
Back in the UK, I spent the next three years trying to shift the weight but no diet worked.
Then in January 2016, I was accepted to study a PHD in Marine Biology and was given a free gym membership.
I’d read that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. So every day for the next month I committed to doing 15 minutes in the gym. The first time I went
I thought I was going to pass out on the cross trainer but it did get easier. I overhauled my eating habits too, so that I was living on soups, salads and fruit. In four weeks I’d lost a stone. I was so proud I documented my progress on Instagram. By August 2016 I weighed 16st, and still the pounds were vanishing. Now I can fit into a size 14 wetsuit. At 13st, I’m happier and healthier than I ever was. In fact, I’ve just returned from a three-week diving course near Bali, with a new set of snaps to replace that awful snorkelling one. I’m hoping to get a job at a conservation foundation in Honduras next year and I’ll spend my days diving. Losing weight has not only made me feel so much better but opened up a whole new world.
Follow Rosie on Instagram @rosiesweightlossjourney
Rosie wa desperate to mak a change afte seeing this phot
Rosie overhauled her diet and started exercising
Before the diet swap