A serious bout of Covid at Christmas prompted a 15st mum to fulfil her New Year’s resolution to lose more than three stone and drop three dress sizes

·5-min read

A mum who suffered a frightening bout of Covid last Christmas has fulfilled her New Year’s resolution to lose weight, dropping more than three stone – from 15st to 11st 10lb – and shrinking by three dress sizes.

Autism advisor Fiona Downing, 44, whose whole family came down with the coronavirus last December, says it was a wake-up call after she was forced to ring for an ambulance when she could not breathe.

Fiona, who lives with her husband Steve, 44, a police officer, and their two children, Alex, 14, and Isabel, 10, in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, said: “It was very terrifying.”

The mum says her family are all looking forward to making up for lost time this Christmas. (Collect/PA Real Life)
The mum says her family are all looking forward to making up for lost time this Christmas. (Collect/PA Real Life)

She added: “I was affected by Covid a lot worse than everyone else in the house and while I’ll never fully know why that happened, my weight probably didn’t help.

“Once we were all better, I was determined to shift the extra weight I was carrying.

“I was so scared I would get ill again, and it could possibly get even worse.”

Fiona downloaded weight loss app Noom to battle the bulges. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Fiona downloaded weight loss app Noom to battle the bulges. (Collect/PA Real Life)

Fiona’s nightmare began in December 2020, when her daughter was sent home from school feeling under the weather.

She said: “It was the second week of December and Isabel was at home. She took a Covid test which came back positive.

“She must have picked it up from someone else at school but after that, we all ended up coming down with it.”

  • Breakfast – Coffee and a bowl of porridge with raisins and other dried fruit.

  • Snack – Naked bar and coffee.

  • Lunch – A sandwich or sushi with a bag of crisps.

  • Snack – Tea and biscuits.

  • Dinner – Chicken and vegetables.

  • Snack – Family-sized Dairy Milk chocolate bar.

But while the rest of her family coped with mild symptoms, Fiona found the virus particularly difficult to deal with.

She said: “My husband and kids had coughs and we all lost our sense of taste, but I was really poorly too.

“It was actually quite scary. One night, my husband was forced to phone an ambulance, because I couldn’t breathe. My feet went blue and I lost the feeling in them.”

Fiona and Steve, pictured here after their time in quarantine, with their 2020 Christmas shop delivery. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Fiona and Steve, pictured here after their time in quarantine, with their 2020 Christmas shop delivery. (Collect/PA Real Life)

She added: “The paramedics checked my oxygen levels and gave me an ECG. They were worried there would be damage to my lungs from the Covid.”

Luckily, paramedics assessed that Fiona did not need to be taken into hospital and she recovered at home with her family.

She said: “It was a bit of a wake-up call for me. I know there are many factors involved with how badly Covid affects you, but I knew I was carrying extra weight and that it didn’t help.”

Fiona’s entire family lost their sense of smell and taste after coming down with Covid last Christmas. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Fiona’s entire family lost their sense of smell and taste after coming down with Covid last Christmas. (Collect/PA Real Life)

She added: “We had a terrible time last Christmas because we couldn’t even smell or taste any of our food.

“Even now, nearly a year later, our sense of smell and taste are still only slowly coming back.”

After a Covid-filled Christmas, Fiona made a New Year’s resolution for 2021 – to battle her bulges.

The entire family tested positive for Covid in December 2020. (Collect/PA Real Life)
The entire family tested positive for Covid in December 2020. (Collect/PA Real Life)

She said: “I weighed myself and discovered I was 15st, which at 5ft 5in meant I had a BMI of 35 – compared to the recommended range of 18.5 to 24.9 – so I was technically obese.

“I was determined to do something about it. In early February I got the weight loss app Noom and switched up my diet.

“What intrigued me was their focus on psychology. They don’t just focus on what you should and shouldn’t be eating, but also, they focus on the reason you eat the way you do.”

  • Breakfast – Low fat yoghurt with fruit and granola.

  • Lunch – Two slices of banana and peanut butter on toast.

  • Snack – Herbal tea.

  • Dinner – Fish and vegetables.

  • Snack – Hot chocolate or a small bar of chocolate.

She added: “And it’s about retraining your mindset. I re-educated my brain on what I wanted to eat and now I even really enjoy the gym too, it’s quite liberating.”

After vowing on New Year’s Eve to begin her weight loss journey, Fiona has spent 2021 swapping snacks of crisps and chocolate for regular exercise and enjoying low-fat yoghurt at breakfast time – just some of her lifestyle changes.

She said: “The app isn’t strict which helped me to ease myself into it, but now I really love it.”

The mum-of-two says her sense of taste and smell are still slowly returning after a frightening bout of Covid. (Collect/PA Real Life)
The mum-of-two says her sense of taste and smell are still slowly returning after a frightening bout of Covid. (Collect/PA Real Life)

Over the course of seven months, Fiona lost 3st 4lb, dropping from a size 18 to a size 12/14, and now weighs a healthy 11st 10lbs – making her body mass index (BMI) used to gauge a healthy weight a far healthier 27.3.

She said: “I had a rough target of 12st in my mind when I started, so to have surpassed that feels amazing.

“It’s crazy to think of the difference to my weight. There are people who still shocked when they see me because we haven’t seen each other in over a year due to the lockdowns.”

Fiona went from a size 18 to a size 12/14. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Fiona went from a size 18 to a size 12/14. (Collect/PA Real Life)

And now the mum-of-two hopes to celebrate her weight loss by making the most of the treats and festivities this Christmas.

Fiona said: “There are lots of tins of Celebrations in the house already, but I haven’t dipped into them just yet.

“The good thing about Noom is that it’s a very flexible diet, which I’ll be making the most of on December 25.

“We didn’t get much of a Christmas last year, so I think we’re all looking forward to making up for lost time.”

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