A receptionist, who feared her almost 18st frame might cause an early death, has seen an incredible 7st (44kg) weight loss, losing 42% of her total body weight.
Jo Stapley, 46, from Bracknell Berkshire, saw her weight creep up to 17st 10lb (112kg) after developing what she describes as "really bad, lazy habits" such as getting frequent takeaways and not exercising.
The locum dental receptionist says she started to struggle walking up the stairs or a slope without getting out of breath and, when she bent down to tie her shoelaces, she would “get a really horrible pain” in her ribs.
But Stapley, who has two children, Jack, 22, and Harry, 20, and lives with her husband, Roger, 55, an IT software engineer, says she only really realised how unhealthy she was when she reached her 40th birthday and had the realisation she needed to prioritise her health.
“I’m very lucky, I’ve got a very healthy family… and I just thought, I might just die because I’m too big, and that’s something that I can do something about,” she explains.
After joining WW (formerly Weight Watchers) in 2016, the mum-of-two has now lost almost half of her body weight, dropping from a size 22 to a size 10 and reaching 10st 3lb (64.9kg).
Describing feeling "gobsmacked" about her transformation, Stapley says it is also "the most amazing feeling".
“I was like, wow, I’ve actually done it. I just couldn’t believe it," she says.
“I’d seen so many people over the years get to that point, and I suppose I never thought I’d ever get there. It was the best feeling.”
While she says she was “very fit and healthy as a young person”, practising martial arts, exercising frequently, and eating good quality food, things started to change when she moved out of home at 18 to live with her then-boyfriend.
That's when she says some unhealthy habits started to creep into her lifestyle, such as getting takeaways, buying pre-made food and sauces, and not moving her body.
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She later separated from her boyfriend but "emotional eating" caused her weight to continue to creep up into her first marriage until she reached her heaviest of almost 18st (112kg) after the birth of her two children.
“I got into really bad, lazy habits with food, didn’t do any exercise at all; [I was] very sedentary, and just eating convenience foods,” she explains.
“It was quite an emotionally stressful time and, one thing I have worked out is that I’m quite an emotional eater, so if I’m upset or angry, all the different emotions, my answer to that at the time was I’d go and eat a packet of biscuits," she continues.
“I was also drinking more than I should have, and it just spiralled out of control.”
The turning point came after her 40th birthday when Stapley started to fear her size could have an impact on her life expectancy.
“I just started thinking, I’ve got a real life to live and I don’t want to die early," she says.
“I thought, right, I’ve got do something now because I don’t want to die.”
In August 2016, Stapley joined WW and attended weekly meetings, where she would participate in group discussions and weigh-ins and says she's "never really looked back".
She says setting “achievable” goals, such as losing one stone at a time, and making small adjustments to her diet and food portions helped keep her motivated and after gradually incorporating exercise into her lifestyle the weight started to drop off.
“It takes a long time, but it does eventually get a little bit easier,” she says.
Nearly seven years later, Stapley has lost more than seven stone and her relationship with food has “changed massively”.
But she says she does not “deprive” herself and still allows herself treats, including a glass of Prosecco and her weekly bag of Midget Gems sweets.
“You’ve got to have something that you can make work for the rest of your life,” she adds.
The mum-of-two said she feels a “massive sense of achievement”, both physically and mentally, and she will “never go back to (her) old habits”, as she is “really happy with how (she feels)”.
While she says her journey was never about “what [she] weighed”, she would encourage anyone who is trying to lose weight or improve their health to “go for it”, as “the feeling is so good”.
"If my story helps just one other person to start their own journey, that would just be brilliant," she says.
Additional reporting PA.