Recruitment specialist loses 5st, qualifies as a personal trainer and becomes a “fakeaway queen” cooking delicious low-cal versions of her favourite meals

·6-min read

A recruitment specialist who has slashed her weight by 5st and qualified as a personal trainer has vowed to make shaping up fun by becoming a “fakeaway queen” – rustling up delicious low-calorie versions of her favourite meals.

Spurred into action after seeing pictures of herself at 16st 9lb on a girls’ night out to celebrate landing a new job in April 2019, Ella Workman, 22, became determined to lose weight.

At 5ft 3in and with a body mass index (BMI) used to gauge a healthy weight of 41.2, compared to the NHS healthy range of 18.5 to 24.9, she was clinically obese and, rather than looking sexy, she felt her new outfit clung to every lump and bump.

Ella’s pictured on the left in November 2019 and on the right after losing five stone in August 2021 (Collect/PA Real Life).
Ella’s pictured on the left in November 2019 and on the right after losing five stone in August 2021 (Collect/PA Real Life).

Ella, who lives in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, with her welder boyfriend Callum Bradbury, 24, and her parents, said: “I was wearing a brand new lovely outfit which I’d bought specially for the occasion.

“I had on an off-the-shoulder black top and a black midi skirt and all evening, as we took pictures on each other’s phones, I thought I looked good – but you do when you’re a few cocktails in.”

Sadly, when Ella eagerly scrolled through her phone to relive her big night out through the pictures, her heart sank.

She said: “I looked at one of the pictures on my phone and thought, ‘Oh my goodness, what have I done?’”

Ella (left) in the April 2019 picture that made her determined to lose weight and (right) afterwards (Collect/PA Real Life).
Ella (left) in the April 2019 picture that made her determined to lose weight and (right) afterwards (Collect/PA Real Life).

Just 19 then and already a size 14 to 16 on top and a size 18 to 20 on the bottom, she took a long, hard look at herself and her eating habits.

She said: “I thought, ‘I am looking in the mirror and I don’t like what I see, so it’s time for some changes.'”

“When I saw that photograph I realised I was a lot bigger than I thought I was. That was when I told myself, ‘I need to do something about this.’”

Average size throughout school, Ella’s weight began creeping up from the age of 16, when a weekend job in a shop meant she had enough money to buy herself sugary treats like cookies and donuts.

Ella with her boyfriend Callum Bradbury (Collect/PA Real Life).
Ella with her boyfriend Callum Bradbury (Collect/PA Real Life).

She said: “I’d always eaten a balanced diet at home, but once I had the freedom to buy the treats I wanted to eat, my weight started to increase.

“My parents never said anything directly to me, as they are lovely and didn’t want to hurt my feelings.”

Despite her best intentions, once Ella started looking at diet plans and exercise programmes, she felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choice and was not sure which to go with.

She said: “I tried lots of different things.

“I wanted to lose the weight quickly back then, so I did the juicing and went to a slimming group and tried the high intensity exercises videos.

“While I did lose weight, as soon as I stopped I put it back on again.”

In April 2020, with the first lockdown in full flow, she had a breakthrough when she hit on a new approach for shaping up and started sharing her journey on Instagram.

Ella, picture on the left in April 2020 and the right in May 2021, goes to the gym six times a week (Collect/PA Real Life).
Ella, picture on the left in April 2020 and the right in May 2021, goes to the gym six times a week (Collect/PA Real Life).

Instead of weighing herself all the time, Ella – who no longer reveals her exact weight but says her BMI is a far healthier 29.7 now – became far more concerned with the percentage of body fat she is carrying.

So, combining a healthy diet with rigorous gym workouts and Thai boxing sessions, she now wears a size 10 top and a size 10 to 12 bottom and is continuing to work on her body tone.

She said: “By April 2020, I’d spent a year trying to find something that worked for me, so I was now counting calories, cooking from scratch and posting photos of the meals I was making.

“People think if you are dieting then the food has to be boring and tasteless and that you can only eat skinless chicken and rice and veg.

Ella’s Nando’s ‘fakeaway’ (Collect/PA Real Life).
Ella’s Nando’s ‘fakeaway’ (Collect/PA Real Life).

“But that’s rubbish. I was sharing photos of delicious dishes like a Nando’s-style ‘fakeaway’ which isn’t boring at all.

“I also use Lo-Dough, which is a low carb, high fibre product, to make low calorie pizzas and brownies and I make a Southern-style coating for chicken – everything is delicious.”

At the start of her diet, Ella was consuming 1,600 calories a day, which she reduced to 1,300 calories when she started going to the gym.

But the NHS recommends a 2,000 calorie daily intake for women trying to maintain a healthy weight and she soon realised she was not eating enough, because of her rigorous exercise regime, so increased to 1,900 calories and says she is still losing fat.

Ella lost five stone by creating delicious low calorie meals, like this pigs in blanket tray bake (Collect/PA Real Life).
Ella lost five stone by creating delicious low calorie meals, like this pigs in blanket tray bake (Collect/PA Real Life).

She said: “I haven’t set myself a weight loss goal.”I don’t believe there is a so-called ‘good’ weight, but feel that it is more about the muscle to fat ratio, a healthy lifestyle and feeling good about yourself.

“I used to be on the scales all the time, but now I don’t bother. Instead, I go by how I look and feel.”

Ella, who had never really exercised before deciding to lose weight, is now so passionate about health and fitness that at the end of 2021 she qualified as a personal trainer.

Ella’s ‘fakeaway’ Kinder donut (Collect/PA Real Life).
Ella’s ‘fakeaway’ Kinder donut (Collect/PA Real Life).

Now she plans to take more courses to qualify as a nutritionist as well this year.

She said: “I want to offer online coaching and focus on women and those who want to lose weight.”

Now, combining her imaginative low-calorie recipes with exercise, despite admitting to being nervous the first time she stepped into a gym, she loves her regime and finds it works brilliantly for her.

Ella’s fakeaway diet helped her trim down from a size 20 to size 10/12 (Collect/PA Real Life).
Ella’s fakeaway diet helped her trim down from a size 20 to size 10/12 (Collect/PA Real Life).

Completing three strength training gym sessions and three Thai boxing sessions a week, she said: “The best thing of all is that I don’t hate it, so I’m not forcing myself to eat a healthy diet and work out.

“It took a while to find what worked for me – almost a year really – so I would say to anyone else who wants to lose weight that they may need to try a few things before they find something they enjoy, that what works for them and they will stick to.”

* Ella’s weight loss journey can be followed here: https://www.instagram.com/ellagetsslim/ and more information about Lo-Dough, the low calorie, low carb and high fibre food company, can be found at: www.lodough.co

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