A young grandmother who ballooned to 21st 9lb after the birth of her fourth son lost 11st 13lb and slimmed down from a size 22 to a size 8 after she was left feeling embarrassed when her “bum got stuck in a chair” because she was so overweight.
Joanne Taylor, 47, said she indulged in chocolate bar and fizzy pop binges for decades but when she stood up with the fold-up patio chair attached to her behind in the summer of 2018 and saw her family laughing at her, it was the wake-up call she needed to get fit.
After nearly 20 years of unsuccessful dieting, the mum-of-four and grandmother-of-four joined Weight Watchers (WW), threw herself into meal prepping and counting calories and, within a year, had lost 10st and was able to wear mini skirts for the first time since she can remember.
Joanne, of North Allerton, North Yorkshire, where she lives with her husband of 16 years Kevin, 53, said: “I am so proud and over the moon about how far I have come.
“I am in shock when I walk by windows in a shop, see my reflection, and wonder who is that. I have to look back again, and it’s me.
“I can sit in chairs now and I’ve got gaps on either side.
“I feel healthy and I feel good.”
While Joanne was “never big” growing up, she said her weight slowly crept up after the birth of her eldest son Luke, now 29, and she continued to balloon following the births of her three other sons, Mason, 27, Liam, 23, and Ross, 21.
Suffering from anxiety and depression, she said she “only felt good when I was eating” – admitting that she loved “anything fried or fatty”, with battered sausages and donner kebab takeaways being her favourite comfort meals.
At her heaviest, in 2018, tipping the scales at 21st 9lbs and standing 5ft 3in tall, Joanne had a body mass index (BMI), used to gauge a healthy weight, of 53.6 – compared to the NHS healthy range of 18.5 to 24.9 – meaning she was severely obese.
She said: “I got bigger after I had my first kid. I was 18, and everything just dive-bombed from there. It was all up and down.
“I suffered with a bit of depression and I just kept eating and eating and never knew when to stop. I had three meals, and whatever in between.
“I only felt good when I was eating.”
Joanne’s depression was only made worse because of her weight, as she became a recluse and never left home because, she said, people would mock her and call her “fatty” if she went out.
She added: “I was very withdrawn and I didn’t like going out. My husband had to sort the shopping and took our kids out.
“People used to insult me, call me ‘fatty’ and much worse, so I just avoided going out.”
It wasn’t until June 2018 that Joanne – now a proud grandmother to four little ones, with the eldest being four – realised she had to make a change in her life or she wouldn’t be able to see her grandchildren grow up.
Recalling how alarm bells started ringing when she got stuck in a chair in her garden while with her family, she said: “I couldn’t stand up without the chair, and I realised something needed to be done.
“It was a nice day. But the day was ruined when my bum got stuck in the chair.
“It was really embarrassing.”
In August 2018, Joanne joined WW with her late mother-in-law Patricia Taylor, who sadly died of Covid in April 2020.
Being part of a community of people encouraging each other to lose weight each week and stick to it, was a “Godsend” for Joanne.
She cut out chocolate from her diet, and started to religiously plan out her meals, making sure she was on a calorie deficit.
Breakfast - big bowl of cereal, half pack of Hobnobs, cup of tea
Snack - big bag of crisps, chocolate bars
Lunch - Cornish pasty, bottle of fizzy pop, big bag of crisps, biscuits
Dinner - Fish and chips, bottle of fizzy pop
Now a slender 9st 10lb and a dress size 8, with a healthy BMI of 24.1, Joanne finally feels confident, saying: “I was really determined to become healthier and lose the weight – I needed to do it for me and for my grandkids.
“I tracked everything I was eating, I weighed my food. I got the lower fat bread and crisps and pulled away from chocolates.
“It was tough at first to cut down on the food, but I told myself I had to carry on.”
Breakfast - 40g Special K cereal or Greek yoghurt
Lunch - salt and pepper thin crackers with soft cheese and a boiled egg
Dinner - Steak and vegetables
Joanne’s new body meant she had to throw out all of her baggy tops and elasticated leggings, which she had relied on for two decades, in favour of mini skirts and jeans.
She said: “I had to buy loads of new clothes to fit my new body.
“I had just lived in massive t-shirts and elasticated bottoms. If I tried to wear one of those tops now, it would be like a tent.
“I bought dresses, smaller jeans, and I am wearing mini skirts again which I can’t remember when I lost wore.”
But most importantly, her newfound energy also allows her to play with her grandchildren, which is something she felt she couldn’t do before.
She said: “I can take my grandkids out for walks and play about with them, sit on the floor and play and run about.
“I can watch them grow up. That’s what has pushed me to keep going, because I want to watch them grow up.”