Woman secretly loses five stone in weight while her husband is away with the military

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
·6-min read
Charlie Whitford lost almost five stone in weight while her husband was on military duty. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Charlie Whitford lost almost five stone in weight while her husband was on military duty. (Collect/PA Real Life)

A mum has lost nearly five stone after secretly starting a new weight loss regime while her husband was overseas with the military.

Charlie Whitford, 35, from Benson, Oxfordshire, underwent an entire body transformation during the five months her husband Adam, 37, was in Afghanistan, dropping four dress sizes and losing around a third of her body weight.

Whitford found her weight started creeping up after eating the same portion sizes and military-inspired diet as her husband.

“My husband always eats big portions, because he’s so active," she explains. "He’s very into being in shape and has to be for his job.

“I’ve never been a big fan of exercise, but I hate to see someone eating more than me, because I like to have big meals, so I would make us the same sized portions.”

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Whitford was a size 18 before she started her weight loss journey. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Whitford was a size 18 before she started her weight loss journey. (Collect/PA Real Life)

But while her husband compensates for his high calorie intake with daily workouts to stay in shape for his role as a nurse in the RAF, Whitford saw her size increase.

By 2020, she was a dress size 18, weighed 14st 5lb and had a body mass index (BMI) of 32.3, which is officially classed as obese. The NHS healthy range is between 18.5 to 24.9.

“At the time I didn’t feel great about my body," she says. "In the summer of 2020 the kids were joking one day and called me fatty which made me cry.”

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The turning point came in August 2020 as her husband was leaving for Afghanistan.

“I knew he’d be gone for a few months, so I thought it was a good opportunity for me to lose weight without him being here and eating larger portions,” she explains.

“He loves to snack on chocolate and ice-cream late at night and I would always give in and snack with him.

“Without him there, it was a perfect time to start eating well.”

Whitford changed her diet and exercise regime while her husband was away. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Whitford changed her diet and exercise regime while her husband was away. (Collect/PA Real Life)

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Having downloaded the weight loss app, Noom, Whitford also began recording her calories in a food diary.

“I had tried loads of other diets in the past, but trying to restrict what I eat never works for me," she explains. "I knew I needed more psychological help for any change to be sustainable.

“I started checking how many calories I was eating every day and cut back on the crisps and chocolate snacks. Instead I snacked on fruit.”

With the help of the app, she also worked on her weight loss mindset, training herself to be more mindful when it comes to eating.

“It helped me to better understand myself and how my brain works when it comes to food," she says. "I found it really useful and it helped me to stay focussed.”

Whitford with her three children, Morvern, Wilfred and Elizabeth. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Whitford with her three children, Morvern, Wilfred and Elizabeth. (Collect/PA Real Life)

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The supermarket worker also upped her exercise levels.

“After dropping the kids off at school, which is about half a mile away, I’d take the long way home so that I’d walk about 5km every morning," she says.

“At first, it didn’t feel like much but, over time, combined with the calorie counting, I started to notice the weight dropping off.”

By the time her husband arrived back home in February 2021, Whitford had lost 4st 12lb, weighed a healthy 9st 7lb and wore a dress size 10.

“When Adam got home he was gobsmacked, he couldn’t take his eyes off me and kept lifting me up in the air,” she says.

“I spoke to him nearly every day while he was away, but I didn’t find it hard to hide the weight loss from him.

“I’ve never really carried weight on my face and when we video called it would just be my face on the screen that he could see, so he had no idea until he got home.”

Whitford with her husband, Adam, before and after her weight loss. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Whitford with her husband, Adam, before and after her weight loss. (Collect/PA Real Life)

Since her husband's return, Whitford has maintained her new diet and exercise regime.

“I no longer eat the same large meals as him," she says.

“If we’re having spaghetti Bolognese for dinner, then I’ll have the sauce with salad and vegetables.

“We don’t eat completely different meals and I don’t deprive myself, but we have variations of the same meal and I just have a smaller portion.”

Though her weight has increased slightly, to 10st, she attributes that to gaining more muscle as she now includes weekly pole fitness classes into her fitness routine.

Whitford says her weight loss has had an impact on the whole family.

“The changes I’ve made have been great for me and for my marriage, too," she explains. "I’m a lot happier and I think it’s made us happier as a couple.

"It’s like a new relationship in a lot of ways because of how much my outlook on life has changed."

Read more: Woman loses 13 stone without ditching carbs: 'I was a heart attack waiting to happen'

She has now taken up pole fitness. (Collect/PA Real Life)
She has now taken up pole fitness. (Collect/PA Real Life)

She says her three children, Morvern, 11, Wilfred, nine and Elizabeth, three, have also noticed a difference in her attitude.

"They see that I’m a lot less stressed and grumpy and tired," she adds. "I have more energy for playing with the kids or taking them out for the day, and being more present and mindful has made me a better mum.”

Whitford's diet before

Breakfast – three or four slices of toast with peanut butter

Snacks – crisps or biscuits

Lunch – one and a half cheese toasties

Snacks – crisps or chocolate

Dinner – lasagne or curry

Snacks – two slices of toast

Whitford's diet now

Breakfast – one slice of toast

Snack – banana

Lunch – salad with couscous and meat-free chicken

Snack – apple

Dinner – salad and vegetables with a spoonful of Bolognese

Snack – one slice of toast

Additional reporting PA Real Life.

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