What’s your New Year’s resolution for 2012? To spend less? To exercise more? All too often, we make resolutions we don’t keep. But when Devinya Leader, 21, a clinical assistant from Leeds, was on the way home from a trip to Tunisia last year, she realised the time had come to lose weight, and she would do everything she could to see this resolution through.
She explains how she went from a size 28 to a 12 in eight months, transforming her life in the process.
A reality check
“I’d had a great holiday, but on the way back, the seat belt wouldn’t fit,” she explains. “I was too embarrassed to ask for an expender belt so my friend had to ask for me. That was the moment I realised I needed to do something. I was 20 years old and too fat to fit in an airplane seat. It did not feel good.”
Devinya weighed 20st, was a dress size 28 and had a BMI in the ‘dangerous’ section of the chart.
“My periods had stopped for 12 months and I had high blood pressure,” she says. “My doctor had told me I was at risk of a heart attack but until that flight last March, I hadn’t realised how big I actually was.”
Her weight had begun creeping up when she hit puberty.
“I was young and stubborn. I’d always been a busy, outgoing person and when I was with my friends I just ate and ate. I’d eat anything I could get my hands on. By the age of 18, I’d hit 20st and I stayed that weight for two years.”
[See also: Follow our New Year eating plan]
How she lost the weight
Devinya signed up to LighterLife – the diet plan that helped British actress Pauline Quirke shed 8st.
“It cost me £72 per week for 28 food packs containing dishes such as shepherd’s pie and chilli con carne,” says Devinya.
“I’d eat four per day, instead of my usual junk food, but I worked extra hard to put money aside and pay for it.”
“The cost didn’t make me think twice, it just made me more determined. Also, I wanted to fit into a Lipsy dress by my 21st birthday in August. I knew it would be the ultimate reward if I could turn up to my own party in a cute little dress instead of oversized clothes from the fat corner of New Look or Evans.”
My secret plan
Initially, Devinya didn’t tell anyone about her ambitions.
“I got on with it in private,” she explains. “At first I didn’t go out – I just stayed in and focused on my diet. The first week was hard because I had to withdraw from carbohydrates. And I swapped fizzy drinks for water. I never drank water before but I became absolutely addicted to it and discovered it’s the best thing ever – it flushes you out and leaves you feeling so refreshed.”
After just one week, Devinya had lost 14lbs.
“It was a great start, but the weight fell off because I had so much to lose.”
From then on, her weight loss stabilised at 1st per month, until she’d lost 9st over a period of eight months.
“My social life was deprived but I knew it would be worth it, so I refused to give into temptation. Before I started dieting, I’d go to the gym but I’d also eat McDonald’s every other day, so I saw no results. But in the summer I started going to the gym three times a week, and the combination of careful eating and exercise helped me reach my target weight of 10st 7lbs by August.”
A special birthday party
By her 21st birthday, Devinya had found her dream Lipsy dress and was ready to debut her new body at the party.
“No one had seen me for ages, and when I walked in to a room packed with family and friends, their jaws dropped. One relative walked past me because she didn’t recognise me. I couldn’t believe how happy everyone was for me and I had a really amazing night.”
Devinya’s weight-loss counsellor was a special guest at the party.
“She came to show her support and to help me steer clear of unhealthy snacks and alcohol. I knew if I came off the diet plan that night, I was at risk of slipping back into old habits, but I didn’t waver and now I would never go back to my life before.”
A new life
“I feel like a completely different person,” says Devinya. “When I was big, I had no love-life – I would never have had the confidence to chat to a guy – but now I have a lovely boyfriend, not to mention an amazing array of new clothes that fit my size-12 figure.”
“My body isn’t perfect. I have a bit of excess skin from where I’ve lost weight, and my stretch marks will never go. I was thinking of having surgery but after another year at the gym, I’m confident the excess skin will have toned up. I’m not seeking perfection – I just wanted a healthy body that would allow me to live a normal life, and thank goodness, I’ve now got it.”
“My advice to any would-be dieters is not to do it unless you want to do it. I used to try to lose weight to please other people, but you have to just do it for yourself. And keep drinking water – it’s free and easy, and the best weight-loss aid ever!”
Have you lost a significant amount of weight? If so, how did you do it and what was your method? Or, if you’ve just started a new-year detox and diet plan, let us know how you’re getting on.
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