Woman says she's 'healthy, fit and happier than ever' after doubling in size

Danielle Holmes at size 14. (Supplied)
Danielle Holmes may be larger than she used to be, but she's also the happiest she's ever been. (Supplied)

When a long-forgotten picture of herself popped up in her Facebook memories recently, Danielle Holmes was taken by surprise. The snap, from 2014, shows a size six Holmes looking bronze and toned, all set for a body-building competition.

Fast forward eight years and the 35-year-old businesswoman has more than doubled in size to a curvy 14. But rather than feel shame or embarrassment, Holmes feels nothing but pride.

"In the past I’ve been hurt by other people commenting on how much weight I’ve put on and I used to feel triggered and insecure," says Holmes, who lives with husband Kyle, 30, daughter Zoe nine and step-son Ryan, also nine in Wiltshire.

"Of course I think I looked good back then. I’d love to lose a bit of weight now - show me a woman who doesn’t.

Danielle Holmes when bodybuilding. (Supplied)
Danielle Holmes in her size six bodybuilding days. (Supplied)

"But since that picture was taken, my life has changed and I have completely different priorities. I’m married to a lovely husband, I have two children, two businesses to run and I’m a happier, more confident person. I may have looked great but I wasn’t truly happy. Besides, keeping a size six body is like a full-time job. It’s unrealistic."

It was shortly after giving birth to her daughter that Holmes first became interested in bodybuilding.

"I was always into the gym but didn’t know much about weight-lifting but thought it looked cool," she says. "But when a friend said that we should do a body-building challenge together, at first I said ‘no’.

"But then I realised it might give me the ‘control’ back that I felt was lacking in my life. Although I was thrilled to be a new mum and there was no regret at all, I felt as though I’d lost a part of myself that I didn’t know how to get back. My relationship with my partner at the time was not good and I needed something that was just for me. I threw myself into the challenge."

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Holmes admits that the need for control totally took over her life. She would complete an hour-long workout at the gym every day for two years and would exercise at home, even doing star-jumps at every ad break on television.

"The exercise was one thing but it was the eating regime that was completely insane," says Holmes. "I had to eat eight to ten times a day to keep my metabolism moving and would set off alarms at work to remind me to have my 10am food, my midday food etc.

Danielle Holmes with another bodybuilder. (Supplied)
"Keeping a size six body is like a full-time job," says Danielle Holmes. (Supplied)

"I’d spend Sunday prepping everything – mostly vegetables and chicken, almonds and Greek yoghurt. I can’t face them now because I lived off them for two years. Even when I went out for a meal with friends, I’d take my little box of prepared food and eat that.

"Eating was purely for fuel, not enjoyment. It was a lonely life although friends and family were supportive, because they knew it was part of my regime to take part in the challenge. If someone offered me tea and cake, I had to be disciplined and say no, but it was so hard."

But with iron-willed determination Holmes, who is 5ft 6 inches tall, reached her competition weight of a tiny 60kg.

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"I was a size six with a 26-inch waist but I felt amazing," she admits. ‘I’d get loads of compliments and I felt great in all my clothes. I remember catching sight of myself in the mirror and thinking: ‘Wow, that’s me, I really look good.

"When I stepped on stage in the competition, it was such a buzz. I didn’t win, but it didn’t matter. I was so proud of what I’d been able to achieve and felt on top of the world."

But within a week of that competition, Holmes’ real world was going to come crashing down. She and her then partner – Zoe’s father – decided to separate.

"Things hadn’t been right for a while and we both knew it was coming but it was me who instigated the split and it was an awful, awful time," says Holmes. "I moved out and a friend let me stay in her empty house on minimum rent but money was so incredibly tight that I had to give up my gym membership and some days I’d eat only toast so that we could afford to pay the bills."

Danielle's wedding day with Kyle on the beach. (Supplied)
Danielle Holmes and husband Kyle married in Skiathos in Greece on 14th June 2018. (Supplied)

Although Holmes continued exercising at home and cycling to work, her obsession with her body waned as she focused on her daughter. In 2015, she met Kyle and in a whirlwind romance, he moved in after only a week.

"It sounds mad and if a friend said they were moving in with someone after only a week I’d say they were crazy but we just knew we were right for each other," says Holmes.

"He treats me with such respect and we started enjoying life together, going out for meals and even clubbing when we had the occasional child-free evening. I stopped thinking about my weight and my body and started focusing on our future.

"Kyle made me realise that I could do things with my life. I could run a business, I could have my dream car and dream home if I wanted to and that’s what we’ve done. I now help run Kyle’s business and I have my own business too. As I started putting weight on, I really didn’t care. I was still working out at the gym but only a couple of times a week and I was enjoying my food again. I’m still a healthy size but I’ve thrown the scales away. I have no idea about how much I weigh."

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Danielle wedding day with Kyle, embracing on beach. (Supplied)
When Danielle Holmes met husband Kyle she stopped thinking about her weight and body and started focusing on their future together. (Supplied)

Holmes recently decided to share her ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures on Facebook and she was astonished by the response from other women.

"Some got in touch to say that they really needed to hear my story because they were feeling unhappy with their bodies," she says. "One mum friend said that the timing couldn’t have been better because her daughter had caught her crying in the mirror that morning as she was so upset about her reflection.

"What message is that sending out to our daughters? I feel such a responsibility to be a good role model to my own daughter who will feel the pressure to ‘look good’ thanks to social media and school friends. I remember growing up with talk of diets and weight loss and that’s something I don’t ever want for my little girl.

"I want to be able to say to girls and women that as long as you’re healthy, don’t worry about your body image. Yes, I may be double the size I was but I’m healthy, I’m fit, but most importantly I’m happy."

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