Mum-of-four will Zumba dance as the turkey roasts this Christmas after losing 14.5st and going from a 27st 10lb size 30 to a 13st 3lb dress size 14

·7-min read

A mum-of-four will be Zumba-dancing to festive hits while the turkey roasts this year as she celebrates her slimmest ever adult Christmas after losing a staggering 14.5st and going from a 27st 10lb size 30 to a 13st 3lb dress size 14.

Gorging on between 4,000 and 6,000 calories a day at her heaviest, health care worker Clare Sims, 45, says her wake up call came in April 2014, after a severe asthma attack during a romantic weekend in Bournemouth with her courier driver husband Shane, 42, landed her in hospital.

Placed in an induced coma for four days for her body to recover, when she came to Clare, of Mangotsfield, Bristol, felt she had been given a second chance at life, although it was not until she saw a photo of herself at an event soon after that she finally took action.

Clare has lost a staggering 14.5st. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Clare has lost a staggering 14.5st. (Collect/PA Real Life)

Talking frankly about her addictive eating habits, she said: “I recognise that I am living with a lifelong addiction.

“I started overeating in my 20s because of stress and have battled with emotional eating ever since.

“I lost weight by joining WW and following their plan.”

Clare’s loose skin weighs around a stone. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Clare’s loose skin weighs around a stone. (Collect/PA Real Life)

She added: “But I took a weekend off recently and once I started eating normally, I could not stop. I put on 13lb in that one weekend.

“It’s the same when I go on holiday, but the trick then is to start again once I get home.”

So overweight that during one four year stretch she did not leave the house without her husband and had to sleep on the sofa as she could not climb the stairs, at 5ft 6in and weighing 27st 10lb, Clare’s body mass index (BMI) was 67.2 compared to the NHS healthy range of 18.5 to 24.9, making her obese.

  • Breakfast: Four or five slices of buttered toast and biscuits

  • Lunch: Sandwiches, crisps and cake

  • Dinner: Pie, chips, beans, bread and butter

  • Snacks: The rest of a loaf of bread, chocolate

With her BMI, used to gauge a healthy weight, now down to 27.9 and weighing 13st 3lb, despite struggling and, at points, gaining weight during lockdown, she has always got back on track.

Her toughest time came in the winter lockdown this year when, shielding because of her asthma, finding the mental strain difficult, her weight crept back up to 15st 12lb.

Clare, mum to sports therapy university lecturer Kayleigh, 23, trainee electrician Alex, 20, and students Lily, 16, and Phoebe, 13, said: “It was a difficult time for everyone, but despite gaining some of the weight again, I managed to get back on track.”

Clare says she developed agoraphobia and could not leave the house without Shane by her side. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Clare says she developed agoraphobia and could not leave the house without Shane by her side. (Collect/PA Real Life)

She added: “I’m a size 18 in jeans still and size 16 in trousers, but a 14 in a dress,

“I’m happy with that and with my shape.

“What I’m not happy about is the loose skin I have as a result of the weight loss and which weighs at least a stone.”

Clare pictured on her wedding day in 2010 with her late father, David Heard. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Clare pictured on her wedding day in 2010 with her late father, David Heard. (Collect/PA Real Life)

She added: “I turned down a gastric bypass when the doctors offered me one in 2014 thinking, ‘I got myself into this mess, I’ll get myself out of it again.’

“But I’d leap at the chance of surgery now to get rid of these folds of skin, especially the loose skin around my legs

“I’ve been told I can’t have the procedure on the NHS because it’s cosmetic, but I’m going back to my doctor, because it is really knocking my confidence. I even have to wear shorts under my dresses to hide it.”

Clare says she could not have done this without the support of Shane and her kids. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Clare says she could not have done this without the support of Shane and her kids. (Collect/PA Real Life)

Clare was not overweight as a child, but started gaining in puberty and then piled on the pounds during her twenties, as a reaction to stress.

“There was an emotional trigger, which I don’t want to talk about, but overeating was my reaction to stress,” she said.

“I could get through an entire loaf of bread in a day and must have been eating around 5,000 maybe even 6,000 calories back then.”

Clare says her wakeup call came after a severe asthma attack led her to be placed in an induced coma. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Clare says her wakeup call came after a severe asthma attack led her to be placed in an induced coma. (Collect/PA Real Life)

The final trigger for Clare to lose weight came shortly after her severe asthma attack, when she saw a photo of herself attending the Passing Out parade of a relative – an event at which she had been too big to fit into the seat.

Shocked by how big she looked, with the support of her husband Shane, who she met on a night out in a bar, she joined WW and, slowly but surely, her weight started to drop.

She said: “My weight loss fluctuated.”

Clare now weighs herself once a week. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Clare now weighs herself once a week. (Collect/PA Real Life)

She added: “One week I lost a pound, the next I lost 11 – but it was such a buzz every time I lost weight that it spurred me on to keep going.”

Praising Shane for his sensitivity, as well as his support and describing him as “the most amazing husband ever, ” Clare says he never once mentioned her weight until she decided to lose it.

Now weighing herself once a week on a Saturday, she finds the WW points systems far easier to follow than calorie counting and says that, as her weight dropped, she even found the courage to go to the gym.

Praising Shane for his sensitivity, as well as his support, Clare describes him as “the most amazing husband ever”. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Praising Shane for his sensitivity, as well as his support, Clare describes him as “the most amazing husband ever”. (Collect/PA Real Life)

But when she tired of the gym, which she found “boring,” she discovered a love for Zumba dancing and now combines this with indoor interval running to stay in shape.

“I run for one minute and walk for one minute and do a YouTube session which is 30 minutes long.” she said.

“If you had told me seven years ago that I’d be running or going to Zumba I would never have believed you!”

Clare and Shane, pictured here with their daughter, Lily, before her prom. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Clare and Shane, pictured here with their daughter, Lily, before her prom. (Collect/PA Real Life)

Now studying for an NVQ qualification in Health and Social Care, Clare says her fitness goal for 2022 is to run in the street.

She said: “I can still feel big and, it sounds ridiculous, but in society, I’m still classed as big as I’m over 13st and my loose skin is still very visible in leggings.

“But I am determined to overcome this and start running outside.”

  • Breakfast; Porridge and fruit

  • Lunch: Soup and cracker breads

  • Dinner: Chicken and salad or fish and salad

She and Shane also celebrate their 20th anniversary together in 2023, which she is hoping to mark with a trip to New York.

She said: “I couldn’t have done this without the support of Shane and my kids.

“At one point, I was agoraphobic and couldn’t even leave the house without Shane by my side.”

Clare went from 27st 10lb, wearing a size 30, to 13st 3lb, wearing a dress size 14. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Clare went from 27st 10lb, wearing a size 30, to 13st 3lb, wearing a dress size 14. (Collect/PA Real Life)

She added: “Now I love walking with my headphones on and I walk every day.

“I’ve gone from part time to full time work and while Christmas Day will be a bit of a challenge with all the food, I am working at the care home on Boxing Day.”

Clare hugely appreciates the support she received from her family and people she met at WW throughout her weight loss journey and now does her best to help others who are trying to lose weight.

Clare hugely appreciates the support she received from her family and people she met at WW throughout her weight loss journey. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Clare hugely appreciates the support she received from her family and people she met at WW throughout her weight loss journey. (Collect/PA Real Life)

She said: “To anyone trying to lose weight, my advice is to just take it one day at a time.

“Believe me, if I can do it anyone can.”

* To live your fullest life with no restrictions and no deprivation while still losing weight, sign up to WW’s newest programme, PersonalPoints, where no two plans are alike. To find out more, visit ww.com/uk

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