A mum who weighed 28st at her heaviest has shared her weight loss journey after losing half of her body weight by switching her diet and exercise regime.
Rachel Mellor, 50, from Ossett, West Yorkshire, believes being put on a diet at six-years-old triggered an unhealthy relationship with food.
But after almost capsizing a boat because of her size, the former teaching assistant has lost an incredible 14st 3lbs and celebrated her 50th birthday weighing 13st 10lb as a trim size 14.
“I was always overweight," she explains. "But, looking back, when I was a kid, I was chubby, I wasn’t hugely obese.
“Being put on a diet at six simply meant I started eating in secret.”
While she describes herself as being "big" growing up, Mellor said she gained further weight after settling into married life with her husband Richard, 52, 28 years ago, and having her children, Catherine, 12, and Elizabeth, 23.
“The food I was eating wasn’t all bad," she explains. "I’ve never been a binger, but I was working full time then and there wasn’t a lot of time for planning and cooking.
"We’d have takeaways nearly every week.
“There were always cakes and chocolates in the staff room at school and I’d eat all of those, too.
“Then I’d go to the supermarket to do the shopping and reward myself with a bar of chocolate on the way home.”
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At her heaviest Mellor weighed 28st 1lb and wore a dress size 32. At 5ft 9in this meant she had a body mass index (BMI), which is used to gauge a healthy weight, of 58, more than double the top of the NHS healthy range of 18.5 to 24.9.
The turning point came in August 2015 on a seaside boat trip with her children.
"There were at least 20 or so people on it [the boat] already. But when I went to get on the boat dipped hugely under me," she recalls.
“I was so embarrassed. I was ordered to sit right in the middle of the boat.
“I just wanted the ground to open up and swallow me."
Following the incident Mellor decided to join WW (formerly Weight Watchers) and started changing her lifestyle by cutting back on portion sizes and limiting carbs, such as bread and pasta, which she was used to eating in large amounts.
“I was lucky I didn’t have any health issues," she says. "But it was only a matter of time until that happened.
“I couldn’t run around after either of my daughters when they were young. I couldn’t go on funfair rides, but it was nearly capsizing the boat that I found mortifying!”
Initially, however, she describes her commitment to losing weight as "half-hearted".
“I spent the next few years losing and gaining the same stone," she explains.
“I wasn’t sticking to the plan. Life just got in the way and I wasn’t prioritising myself.”
But in 2019, when the family moved to Ossett and Mellor stopped working, she found time to dedicate to overhauling her lifestyle.
Determined to shift her excess weight for good and recommitting to WW, Mellor began planning all the family’s meals in advance.
She would also send her husband shopping with a list, to avoid her being tempted to buy unhealthy treats.
“I’d write a list and he’d stick to it," she says. "Chocolate wasn’t on there. It was quite simply a case of if I didn’t have it in the house, I wouldn’t eat it.”
Fitness wise the mum-of-two also started walking up to five miles a day.
While she initially wanted to reach a dress size 18, Mellor's weight loss continued, and she was delighted when she tried her size 18 wedding dress on last year and found it was too big.
In time for her 50th birthday party, in May 2022, she was a slim size 14/16 and weighed just 13st 10lb, giving her a far healthier BMI of 28.3.
Having lost an incredible 14st 3lb, Mellor now says she's got to her "happy weight".
“I could lose more, but I wouldn’t be able to maintain it," she explains.
“The girls and Richard are so proud of me. And I am proud of myself.
“I’m active with my family for the first time.
“Just the other day we were playing Frisbee, while the old me would just have been sat in the car!”
Mellor's diet before
Breakfast – cereal and skimmed milk
Lunch – three slices of bread in a sandwich, a lot of fruit
Dinner – huge portions of pasta or two chicken Kievs and tinned spaghetti
Snacks – chocolate
Drinks – water and coffee
Breakfast – porridge oats with raspberries and blueberries
Lunch – salad or spinach with smoked fish
Dinner – chicken and jacket potatoes and salad or a small portion of spaghetti bolognese
Snacks – chickpea cake and fruit
Drinks – water
Additional reporting PA Real Life.