Prima (UK)

‘I finally broke the cycle of yo-yo dieting’

Mum-of-three TRACY HARMSWORTH, 48, a carer from Faversham, Kent, knew she had to take action for the sake of her family.


Crossing the finish line of my first half marathon in 2020, I felt exhausted but elated. The old me couldn’t have run for a bus, she was so overweight and unfit, but I’m not her any more. I’ve transforme­d my body and health, and I still get surprised when I look in the mirror and see a size 12, happy and confident woman smiling back at me.

For as long as I can remember, I have been overweight, as were my parents. Our family diet wasn’t great, but I also believe we had a genetic dispositio­n to being overweight. My parents tried really hard, many times, to lose weight, realising that it wasn’t good for their health to be the way they were. I remember that

Mum once lost

12st and Dad lost 16st, but they would always put it back on again.

As an adult, I became a yo-yo dieter, too. By the time I got married to Steve in 1998, when I was 23, I weighed 18st and was a size 24.

My diet was terrible – full of processed food, takeaways and large bars of chocolate – and I did no exercise. I’d go on a fad diet or join up to a slimming class and successful­ly lose weight, but I’d inevitably slip up and go back to my old ways. My size never mattered to Steve – he loved me for who I was. Looking back,

I can see I played the part of the jolly, fat friend when I was out, convincing myself I didn’t care. I carried on gaining and losing weight throughout the years I had my children, Lucas, now 23, William, 21, and Archie, 12 – and at my heaviest, I reached 23½st and was a size 28. I ached all over and constantly felt exhausted. But it wasn’t my own deteriorat­ing health that shocked me into finally tackling my weight for good – it was my parents’. As they got older, they

‘I have transforme­d my body and my health’

developed problems linked to their weight, including type 2 diabetes, leg ulcers and cardiac issues. My eldest son, Lucas, has Down syndrome and I felt scared that I’d end up like them and not be around for him.

I made the drastic decision in 2012 to have a gastric band fitted, but it snapped and I ended up in hospital with sepsis. It was a scary time and I was so poorly that, by the following year, aged 38, I decided to overhaul my diet and lifestyle once and for all and do it on my own. By now, I was around 18st and I was determined that this time, it would be different.

Instead of skipping breakfast, then grazing on sandwiches, crisps and biscuits before a big Chinese takeaway and wine in the evening, I began to have cereal and fruit, a salad wrap and yogurt for lunch, then a home-made Quorn and veg curry.

I started running, steadily building up my stamina and, after joining a running club, ran a half marathon in 2020. Nobody was more surprised than me when I finished it.


Last year, in June 2022, I climbed

Snowdon and when I reached the summit, I thought about my dad, who had sadly passed away the year before, and how very proud he’d be of what I’d achieved. It was an emotional moment.

I also took up weight training to tone and strengthen my body and I now work out weekly with a local PT called Corinne Murphy, as well as going for eight-mile walks at the weekend. Knowing how good it will make me feel drives me on.

Of course, I do slip up from time to time, but I don’t allow myself to feel guilty. The next day, I simply start over again.

In the past, I’d have berated myself, then thrown in the towel on healthy eating, too disappoint­ed in myself to carry on. I’ve broken that toxic cycle now.

Today, I’m a size 12 and weigh 11st 2lb, which I am very happy with. Steve, my sons and my family and friends have been so supportive and my mum is very proud, as my dad would be, too. I have so much respect for how hard they both tried to lose weight themselves and I know it makes them happy that I have finally done it. Best of all, I’m so happy that I’ve tried my best to futureproo­f my health to be around for Lucas and my other children for many years to come.

 ?? ?? At her heaviest, Tracy weighed 23½st and was a size 28
At her heaviest, Tracy weighed 23½st and was a size 28
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