It happened to me
When Rosalynn Bartlett discovered she’d got too big to do any of the exercise she had previously enjoyed, she knew it was time for a major lifestyle change…
I’m half the woman I was
Pounding the pavements or taking to the pool, there’s not a day that goes by when I’m not exercising. with my active lifestyle it’s no surprise that I’m a toned and slender size 12. But what might be a little harder to believe is that just three years ago I was more than double my size.
When I was working as an accountant in my early 20s, I went to the gym almost every day. Running on the treadmill and taking part in exercise classes was a welcome break away from my desk.
I was 11st and a size 14 but that all changed in 2005 when, aged 28, I bought my first house in Buckinghamshire. With all my money going on the mortgage I could no longer afford my gym membership and didn’t exercise as much.
As the years passed the pounds started to creep on to my 5ft 8in frame. I was single and couldn’t be bothered cooking for one. Instead I’d come home from work and slump on the sofa as I reached for the phone to dial for a takeaway – fish and chips and pizza were my favourite. And I’d always polish off a few glasses of red wine at the weekend too.
By the time I was 32 I was 20st and a size 22. I knew I was big and although I tried joining local slimming clubs – I just didn’t have the motivation – or willpower to stick to any plans. Unable to resist temptation, if ever I lost weight I’d only pile it back on – and more. But the truth was, my size didn’t bother me. I could still shop in most high street stores – albeit I was at the upper size limit – and my friends and family
‘my size didn’t bother me’
never mentioned my weight. So I tried to ignore it. Standing on the train on my hour commute to work each day, my ankles swelled and my back and knees were in agony. Still, that didn’t stop me from calling for a curry on the journey home, so it would arrive when I got in. Sometimes I’d even stop off at the shops and buy cheese and bags of crisps to snack on throughout the night instead of having a proper meal.
By 2014 I was 24st 4lb and a size 26-28. Shopping became so much harder and if I was going out with friends I couldn’t find anything nice to wear. Instead I’d cover up in baggy tops and stretchy tent-like dresses to fit over my bulging tummy.
Getting ready in the mornings, I was starting to dislike the round face and flabby arms staring back at me in the mirror. So that May I decided to go on a spa and wellness holiday on my own to St Lucia. I reasoned that my body needed a break and I hoped I’d feel better about myself too.
Only when I got there, I realised just how much I’d let myself go. I knew I was unfit – I got out of breath just walking up the stairs. And even taking part in a stretching class was too much for me to handle. I couldn’t reach my ankles over my wobbly tummy, and whereas in my 20s I used to run six times a week, now even walking felt like strenuous exercise.
What had I done to myself? I was terrified of becoming even worse and vowed that I would get in better shape. When I got back home the thought kept playing on my mind.
As Christmas approached, I reasoned if I started then I was destined to fail. So I decided I’d enjoy myself one last time. And as the festivities ended and people around me started making their New Year’s resolutions, I decided I’d do the same. I was going to turn my health around. Knowing I had a lot to lose I didn’t want faddy diets. The only way would be to make small changes that I’d be able to stick to.
So in January 2015 I downloaded the calorie-counting app Myfitnesspal, and calculated that I needed to cut down to 1,650 calories a day to start shifting the pounds. Instead of ordering takeaways I began cooking from scratch, prepping my meals for the week ahead so there would be no excuse to stray.
I swapped white pasta for wholemeal and my red wine for gin and slimline tonic. I also decided that nothing was off limits. If I wanted a treat I could have one, I just needed to take into account that it would be using up a big part of my daily calorie allowance.
By February 2015, I’d lost 1st 7lb, which only spurred me on even more. I started Zumba classes with a friend. And as the pounds continued to fall away, I adjusted my calorie intake on the app.
I didn’t even find it difficult as I could eat whatever I wanted within my calorie limit. By August 2016, I was down to 17st 4lb and took up running and weight training in the evenings to tone up. By the end of the year I’d lost 10st and was a size 16.
When I looked in the mirror I could finally see my cheekbones and I loved that I was able to go into a shop knowing I’d fit into the clothes. When I bumped into people I hadn’t seen for a while they couldn’t believe it was me. And while I did get more attention and went on a few dates, I realised I was actually quite happy being on my own.
‘what had i done to myself?’
In January 2017, I started swimming too. And now that I was feeling fitter than ever, I wanted a new challenge.
After taking part in the Great North Swim in the Lake District in June I decided to try a triathlon the following month. Completing the sprint distance in 53 minutes I was so proud, and my friends cheered me on. I’d come so far thanks to all the small and easy changes I’d made and loved my new lifestyle.
And last month I even took part in the London Royal Parks Half Marathon too – something I’d never imagined myself being able to do before.
Now I’m down to 11st 7lb and a size 12 and feel incredible. My couch potato days are a thing of the past and I’m already filling up my calendar with fresh challenges for next year.
At her biggest Rosalynn weighed more than 24st
Lost 12st 11lb Looking fabulous: Now a healthy 11st 7lb Rosalynn is loving her sports again