A mother and daughter have helped encourage each other to lose weight, shedding over 11 stone between them.
A love of fizzy pop, takeaways and “all things beige” saw Kelly Digweed, 39, and her daughter, Chloe Digweed, 21, tipping the scales at over 30 stone between them.
In 2018, and at her heaviest, Kelly wore a size 22 and weighed 15st 7lb, with her student daughter, Chloe following closely behind at a 14st 10lb and wearing a size 20.
The turning point came after Kelly suffered a serious panic attack later that year which was triggered by ongoing anxiety problems.
Convinced she was having a heart attack Kelly was rushed to hospital, with the scare leading the mum to reassess her life and vowing to slim down for good.
By May 2019, Kelly had reached her target weight of 9st 4lb and could wear a size 10 and seeing her mum’s new appearance and renewed lust for life inspired her daughter Chloe to follow in her footsteps.
Fast forward a further six months and the University of Portsmouth drama student was also a size 10 and weighed just 9st 12lb.
Throughout her childhood and early teens, Kelly was a comfortable size eight, but that all changed when she gave birth to Chloe in 1999.
“I’d always eaten quite healthily growing up,” she recalls. “But as soon as I was in charge of my own meals I was eating all the wrong food.
“I loved anything beige – frozen chips and breaded chicken – and I would always treat myself to a takeaway.”
“For a while, I managed to get away with it, but as soon as I fell pregnant that all changed.
“I found myself getting bigger and bigger. But, after Chloe arrived, I didn’t get any smaller.”
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Things continued in a similar pattern and by the time she had her son, Samuel, in 2005, Kelly was a size 18.
Just 5ft tall, at her heaviest, Kelly had a body mass index (BMI) of 42.5. The NHS recommends a BMI level of between 18.9 and 24.5, so Kelly’s classed her as obese.
Juggling a full-time job with raising three young children, meant Kelly turned to easy, convenient food.
Often skipping breakfast, she would enjoy a cheese sandwich with crisps and a chocolate bar for lunch, before tucking into XL cheese pizzas for dinner and chocolate digestives for snacks.
“I was in a vicious circle,” she explained. “I was depressed about how I looked and the only thing that would cheer me up was eating.”
“Then I’d put on even more weight and I’d find myself trapped in this cycle.”
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Remaining 18 stone for the best part of 10 years, it was not until mid-2018 that Kelly was given the final push she needed to lose the weight once and for all.
“One day I was I getting ready for bed and my heart started racing and my blood pressure went through the roof. I thought my heart would stop,” she recalled.
“I was convinced I was dying and the next thing I knew I was coming to on the floor after passing out.”
After being taken to hospital in an ambulance and undergoing various tests Kelly was told she was not experiencing a heart attack, but a panic attack.
“I’ve suffered with anxiety and panic in the past, especially away from home, but I’d never ended up in hospital with it,” she explains.
“That’s when something clicked and I knew I had to change. I knew that every bite I was taking was bringing me one step closer to an early grave.
“It took thinking I was dying to make me realise I want as long and happy a life as possible.”
After hearing about the 1:1 Diet by Cambridge Weight Plan through a friend, in November 2018 Kelly signed up.
Having halved her calorie intake to just 1,500 a day, in only five weeks, she lost a stone.
“There was no stopping me after that,” she added. “I had my eyes set on the main prize.”
Starting the day with Weetabix, before enjoying a tuna salad for lunch and finishing her day with grilled chicken and steamed veg, Kelly reached her target weight of 9st 4lb by the end of May, 2019.
But, as her waistline shrank, Kelly could not help noticing that Chloe’s was expanding.
“Every time we’d visit Chloe she would praise me for my weight loss, but I could tell inside she was longing for the same result herself,” she said.
“I was getting smaller as she got larger and it can’t have been easy.
“I didn’t want to push her to start dieting, as I think it’s something that needs to come from yourself.”
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By Christmas last year, Chloe – who, at 5ft 2 had a BMI of 37.8, classing her as obese – had made her own mind up to slim down.
Like her mum, she signed up with a 1:1 Diet consultant.
As her daughter began her weight loss journey, Kelly started training to become a 1:1 Diet consultant and, at the end of January, she took over as her daughter’s mentor.
With her mum’s help, Chloe has lost five stone in six months and now a trim size 10, is just 2lb away from her target weight of 9st 10lb.
As well as gaining a healthy new lifestyle the mother/daughter duo say the process has brought them closer together.
“Seeing my mum’s transformation was the kick up the bum I needed to take control of my own weight. If she could do it, why couldn’t I?” Chloe explains.
“It’s only taken six months for me to catch up and I couldn’t be happier.
“I’ve lost five stone, but best of all, I’ve gained a best mate in my mum.”
Additional reporting PA Real Life.