Real Life

Three women re­veal why their favourite out­fit is so much more than a sim­ple fash­ion choice

Woman (UK) - - This Issue -

three women re­veal the dresses that changed their lives

‘I for­get I’M not plus size any More’

Donna wells, 46, lives in Ply­mouth with her hus­band, michael, 51

Take a look at this photo of me. I cer­tainly look like some­one who is happy to strike a pose, don’t I? But there was a time I’d duck at the sight of a cam­era.

I’d al­ways been a big­ger girl, even as a teenager. My mum would cook healthy, bal­anced meals, but I was adamant that I didn’t like fruit or veg, in­stead pre­fer­ring to fill up on crisps, choco­lates and sweets. And when I met my hus­band, Michael, in 1988, we soon dis­cov­ered we both shared a love of greasy take­aways.

I gave birth to our first son, Steven, in Septem­ber 1990, fol­lowed by our daugh­ter, Natasha, three years later and then Jamie in 2003.

Dur­ing each preg­nancy, I’d make the most of eat­ing for two and after­wards I strug­gled to shift the baby weight. My job as a cleaner kept me ac­tive, but it wasn’t enough to coun­ter­act the huge amount I was eat­ing.

By Jan­uary 2017, I was at my heav­i­est – 16st 1lb – and wear­ing a dress size 18-20. At just 5ft 2in, my flabby stom­ach and thighs swamped my frame and my weight was putting pres­sure on my back and knees, too.

I de­cided I needed a new start in the New Year. So I signed up to Slim­ming World and be­gan swap­ping fish and chip sup­pers for its health­ier recipes. In the first week, I lost 8lb. Eleven months later, I’d slimmed down to 10st 9lb, just in time for a com­pany awards cer­e­mony.

In the spot­light

I’d been nom­i­nated for a prize and I knew I was go­ing to need a new dress. Go­ing shop­ping for the first time as a size 10 felt sur­real. I kept pick­ing up big­ger sizes, for­get­ting that I’d lost so much weight.

In Novem­ber 2017, I picked up the award for Cleaner of the Year. Rather than be­ing too em­bar­rassed to get up there on stage, I felt proud – and beau­ti­ful.

Main­tain­ing the weight loss over the last year has been hard, but when­ever I feel as though I’m go­ing to wa­ver, I pull out my dress and re­mind my­self how far I have come.

Donna knew she had to make some changes

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