A mum of three who ballooned to 20st 5lb and says she looked “like a bear” after having her youngest child finally feels sexy thanks to losing 9st 2lb in two years and having a £6k “mummy makeover” including implants for her “loopy” breasts.
With an increasingly serious weight problem, exacerbated by a hormonal condition which saw her needing to shave her “beard,” Ruth Geary’s wake-up call came in December 2019, when she thought she was dying from a heart attack after running upstairs.
Diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in 2008, a hormonal condition that can cause facial hair, infertility and weight gain, full-time mum Ruth, 37, soon saw her waist expand from her super-slim size 8 to a 10 and was plagued by facial hair that battered her self-esteem.
But it was in 2014, after Mela, eight, was born, that her weight – which had been creeping up – really soared, also causing her breasts to develop differently, with the right an F cup and the left a D.
By the time of the stair incident five years later, Ruth, who lives Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire with her door fitter husband Chris Geary, 37, and their children, Emily, 17, Isobel, 11, and Mela, was a 20st 5lb size 24 and she finally decided to take drastic action.
She said: “My doctor prescribed a drug that prevents around a third of the fat from food from being absorbed and helps obese people avoid gaining weight.”
She added: “One day I’d been running upstairs with a washing basket with clean washing to put away and when I got to the top, I’d felt dizzy and hot and like my heart was falling out of my chest.
“I dropped the basket. I thought I was dying, I thought I was having a heart attack.
“Instantly, I thought of my kids and I felt like I was leaving them.”
She added: “It was over in minutes, but it felt like hours.
“Turns out, I was so overweight, I couldn’t catch my breath going up the stairs.”
Now an astonishing 11st 3lb size 10, taking 5ft 4in Ruth’s body mass index (BMI), used to gauge a healthy weight from an obese 48.6 at her heaviest – compared to the NHS healthy range of 18.5 to 24.9 – to a far healthier 26.7 now, she feels like a different woman.
Ruth, who had breast reduction surgery and a tummy tuck in March at a clinic in Turkey, said: “I feel more sexy and more confident. I feel like I shouldn’t say that about myself.
“But I think I look healthy and I look younger.
“I’m proud of myself that I was able to do it, and I’m excited for what’s to come.”
She added: “I can buy nice clothes and even wear jeans with a t-shirt tucked in.
“Before, I always wore the biggest and baggiest t-shirts and leggings, hiding away.
“Even looking at my breasts now, they are so much better – it’s just brilliant.
“I’m so pleased they are symmetrical. I can’t stop looking at them. They look natural.”
Ruth’s issues with her weight started when she was just 16.
Then a skinny size 6, she struggled with the bingeing and purging disorder bulimia, as she had poor body image, despite being ultra slim – concerning her school so much that she had her meal an hour after her classmates, when a dinner lady could make sure she had eaten.
She said: “I used to be quite skinny in my younger days. For a while, I was bulimic because of confidence issues at high school.
“I was a size 6. My head was really big, so my mum said I looked like a lollipop.”
She added: “I had a separate dinner hour from my friends. I’d go after them and sit with the dinner lady. I’d always eat a jacket potato and a banana.
“She was there to make sure I was eating and not throwing up.
“I wasn’t bullied or anything, it was just a personal struggle.”
Then, in 2008, by then a mum-of-one, Ruth was diagnosed with PCOS, which took a massive toll on her physical and mental health.
Swiftly going from a size 8 to a 10, she also started to “grow a beard” because of higher-than-normal amounts of male hormones caused by the condition.
She said: “I was devastated. I already had such low self esteem and then I started to grow all these hairs and was getting bigger and bigger.
“I was getting spots and hairs on my face. I was almost growing a beard and had to shave my face every day.
“I thought I looked like a bear.”
Finally deciding to address her weight gain after the incident on the stairs, she cut out her regular chocolate treats.
Ruth, who drinks 10 cups of coffee a day, cut out the two sugars she had in each drink and slashed her 4,000 a day calorie consumption in half.
Committed to her new diet, by the end of 2020 she had lost two stone and wore a size 20, giving her the confidence to go for walks and bike rides with her neighbour.
Ruth even watched her favourite shows like Bridgerton on a treadmill, to make sure she was staying active.
She said: “I decided that if I got to a certain point I would have surgery to remove all my excess skin, so I just focused on portion control.
“At Tesco, I’d park the furthest away I could, so I could get more steps in and I’d only watch my favourite Netflix shows if I was on the treadmill.
“I really embraced the change. It gave me something to focus on.”
And her commitment paid off, as she weighed just 11st 12lb when she flew out to Irmet Hospital in Istanbul, Turkey, for surgery in March 2022.
Her surgery included a Fleur De Lys (FDL) tummy tuck, which removes significant excess skin from the entire midsection, a breast uplift, implants and a reduction.
Ruth, who sold her mum’s caravan to fund the £6k 10-hour operations, which took her from a 40F to a 36D, said: “My mum was so supportive as she knew how much this was affecting me, and she told me to sell her caravan so we could pay for the surgery.”
Breakfast - Four coffees with two sugars each
Lunch - McDonald's chips, coffee with two sugars, chocolate bars
Dinner - Takeaway curry or pizza, chips, bag of Haribos, bag of Doritos, jelly beans
Snack - Plain ready salted crisps, chocolate raisins, biscuits, whole bar of chocolate
“I had a mummy makeover – the term for having all of the different operations in one go.
“I was quite scared but excited about it and it all went brilliantly.
“Bra shopping was a nightmare before, as I’d either have to buy a bra that fit the big breast and the small cup would just be empty, or find one for the small one and the big one would spill over the top.
“Now I can buy bras that fit.”
Ruth can also wear size 10 jeans, which still feels “completely surreal,” after having 6lb of loose skin removed.
Now weighing a slender 11st 3lb, it is not just her self confidence which has improved – so has her relationship with her children, who she can finally join in with when they are playing in the park, when her size previously made this impossible.
She said: “Losing weight was so important, because I could finally go on the swings with my children and fit.”
She added: “I was going on the zipwire with them. I would never have entertained that at 20 stone.”
“I can even jump on the trampoline with them now.
“I feel like I’m more present in their lives than ever before.”
Breakfast - Coffee with one sugar, strawberry slimfast shake
Lunch - Salad wrap
Dinner - Pasta with vegetables
Snack - Dark chocolate
Ruth said: “Losing weight has improved my life in every way and I would urge anyone in my position to take action, see their doctor and get all the help available to tackle their weight.
“And the surgery was worth every penny as my mental and physical health could not be better.”