Message from beyond
I was utterly lost after Mum died, but she found a way to keep me on track
Feeling full of excitement, I came home and spilt the beans to my mum Avril. We were so close, everyone called me Mum’s shadow. Now, I sat on the sofa and babbled about my new man Lee, 23. ‘He’s got dark hair and blue eyes,’ I gushed. ‘He’s just perfect.’ ‘He sounds really great,’ Mum beamed. I lived at home with Mum, my dad Alan, 62, and sister Nadine, 27. We were a lot closer than most families. Mum had developed diabetes when she was pregnant with me – and, since then, her health had suffered. She had hypertension, thyroid issues and heart problems which unfortunately left her bedridden. I was her window to the outside world. Although I started spending more time at Lee’s, I did see Mum most days. I told her how simple things were between me and Lee. ‘We love having a Domino’s pizza in front of the telly together,’ I told her.
Mum nodded, soaking up all the details.
She was a soppy thing. Loved hearing all about my romance.
She was kind, too, a sucker for animal-charity ads on TV, couldn’t resist donating.
Soon, I realised I was telling Mum about a lot of takeaways that me and Lee were having. At 5ft 5in tall and a size-10, the weight had started creeping on so slowly that I’d barely noticed.
And, when I fell pregnant with our daughter in spring 2008, I ate whatever I wanted.
Then when I had my daughter Rihannah, that December, I was absolutely thrilled.
I’d never seen my mum prouder than when she had her first cuddle with her granddaughter.
But she was concerned, too.
By now I weighed more than 19st.
‘I’m worried you’ll end up like me,’ Mum confessed.
‘I’ll try and go on a diet,’ I promised her.
I knew that Mum just wanted me to be able to do everything with my daughter that she’d never been able to.
So, in January 2015, I started following the Joe Wicks diet plan.
Instead of skipping my breakfast, I had scrambled egg, spinach and a veggie sausage.
I swapped my usual lunch of a jacket potato for a smoothie of almond milk, peanut butter, protein powder, banana and chia seeds.
And for dinner, there were no more takeaways!
Instead, I’d follow one of Joe’s recipes – like the lovely
Mum was bedridden – I was her window to the world
leek and chicken pie with veg!
‘Everything’s made from scratch,’ I explained to Mum.
‘Well, it’s certainly paying off, love,’ she encouraged.
Soon, I was feeling much better about myself.
But in October 2015, Mum fell over at home, broke her leg.
She was semi-conscious as an ambulance rushed her to Queens Medical Centre, in Nottingham.
After a week in hospital, she came home but started getting poorly as all of her conditions reared up.
Back in hospital, her breathing became laboured.
Me, my dad and Nadine barely left her side. Mum’s condition spiralled, infection setting in.
And three weeks later, we held her hands as she took her last breath… Mum was just 64. In shock, I shut down. Without Mum, I felt lost. I left my job in car sales and even struggled to get out of bed some days.
My diet was now the last thing on my mind as we held a funeral for Mum and began to adjust to life without her. Only, I didn’t… I slipped back into my old habits and would turn to food for comfort.
But, six months later, I was looking at some pictures of Mum when something inside me snapped. It was the moment I knew... I was sure Mum wouldn’t want me to live like this.
I got my old job back and remembered Mum’s words of encouragement when I’d started losing weight before.
So I went back on the Joe Wicks plan.
I even volunteered to run a half-marathon to raise money for a charity we supported at work.
With encouragement from colleagues, Lee, Dad, Nadine and little Rihannah, then 8, I started training.
The first time, I didn’t even run half a mile before gasping.
But the next time I went on for a little longer.
I also started doing the Insanity Workout at home, exercising five times a week in my living room. After six months, I’d lost 2st. And, in March last year, I ran my first half-marathon around Silverstone racetrack.
It was tough, and I didn’t know if I’d make it to the end…
But I pictured Mum’s face, and how much she would have loved me being able to run.
Somehow, I crossed the finish line.
Inspired, in April last year, I applied for a London Marathon ballot place – but, sadly, didn’t get one. I was gutted. But then in April this year, I was contacted by the charity Brooke, which supports working horses and donkeys.
It wanted to offer me a place to run the marathon for the charity.
I remembered selecting it when I’d filled in my form, but hadn’t given it a second thought.
Later, I told Dad all about my new backer.
He began to shake his head in disbelief.
‘That was the last charity your mum contacted before she died,’ he said. ‘I had no idea,’ I gasped. I love to think it’s a message from my mum, telling me that I’m on the right track.
Now I’m proud to say that I’ve lost 5st and I’m still going.
I can run for miles without getting out of breath and fit into size-12 clothes.
More importantly, though, I’m a happy, healthy role model for Rihannah, now 10 – just like my mum wanted.
I really hope that she’s looking down on me.
I did it all to make her proud.
My lovely mum Avril – we were so close
A mummy myself – and a role model for little Rihannah I’m fit enough to run for miles!