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

Mum Tracey Hewitt before and after weight loss. (Caters)
Mum Tracey Hewitt before and after her weight loss, pictured in the same dress. (Caters)

A woman has lost more than 13 stone without having to say goodbye to carbs.

Tracey Hewitt, 49, went from 23st 10lb to 12st 2lb after deciding "enough was enough" during lockdown.

Hewitt used to eat multiple crisps and biscuits a day, but has since reduced this with great effect, while still allowing herself variety in her food.

As she was unwilling to cut back on carbs like crisps and toast, she instead reduced her portions and began consuming 1600 calories per day.

Two years later, Hewitt's gone from a UK size 26 to a size 12.

Tracey Hewitt showing how big her trousers are for her now after weight loss. (Caters)
Tracey Hewitt stopped eating large portions and began consuming 1600 calories per day. (Caters)

"The weight gain started from a young age and then due to a late pregnancy at 41 and drinking in later years," Hewitt explained.

She would struggle with the amount she ate, realising her food cravings were focused on how much she would eat in one go, always having large portions of food or multiple bags of crisps.

"When I was a hairdresser and I would go to people's houses, I would snack on biscuits whilst I was there," she added.

"I was a heart attack waiting to happen."

Read more: The NHS' 12-week weight loss plan explained

But, during the first lockdown, Hewitt, who hadn't previously seen her weight as an issue, decided she wanted a change. She started to focus on her nutrition by doing a calorie deficit, which is when you consume fewer calories than your body burns.

This resulted in her losing a total of 40 inches from her legs to her neck, and another two and a half stone loss in 18 months.

Hewitt, who previously avoided leaving the house, is now maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle, cycling to the cemetery to her mum's grave after not getting on a bike for 20 years. She also managed to get 10,000 steps in at the weekend.

Tracey Hewitt in cycling gear with partner. (Caters)
Tracey Hewitt now enjoys cycling after not getting on a bike for two decades. (Caters)

"I feel like I have found myself, I broke that barrier down and I feel so confident now," she says.

It hasn't always been easy for Hewitt, who has faced some challenges in both her friendships and relationship with her partner, 48, due to her previous weight.

"Me and my husband Paul would go out together, we'd go to a bar and people would think Paul was having an affair because people didn't recognise me," says Hewitt.

"People we both knew would go up to Paula and speak to him, but not me, I found out later on it was because they didn't know it was me.

"I am used to people saying they don't recognise me. It used to offend me as I always say it's still me inside."

Hewitt adds: "Even when we're laid in bed together I would ask Paul to move over, but it was me taking up all the room. Now we don't even touch each other."

The transformative weight loss has changed Hewitt's mindset on eating, as she's still able to enjoy her food. Simply having everything in proportion meant she hasn't had to cut out carbs, just reduce the portion size.

She still enjoys her little pleasures like crisps and savoury snacks within a healthier balanced diet, without feeling guilty.

Read more: What is the NHS soup and shakes diet?

Mum Tracey Hewitt after weight loss. (Caters)
Mum Tracey Hewitt, pictured with her only child, her daughter Bethany, eight. (Caters)

"I have 1600 calories a day," Hewitt says. "I eat whatever I want as long as it is in proportion. Before I would have more than one packet of crisps, but now I just have one low calorie bag and I am fine."

An ideal daily intake of calories depends on age, metabolism and levels of physical activity, among other things, according to the NHS.

To lose weight in a healthy way, you need to use more energy than you consume by eating a healthy, balanced diet with fewer calories while increasing physical activity, which the NHS weight loss plan can help with.

Generally, the recommended daily calorie intake for women is 2,000 calories a day.

Explaining how she's learnt how to adapt her eating behaviours, she said, "It is that initial craving I would get, but I have learnt to have it in moderation.

"I needed to hold myself accountable. I couldn't keep paying someone to make me fitter, I needed to hold myself to account. Not just for me but for my family as well."

While she has done it all herself, her lifestyle changes are helped by the fact she and Paul make healthy low calorie dinners together. They used to buy pastries and quiches, but now make their own healthy versions at home.

Read more: Creator of 5:2 diet shares two easy exercises to aid weight loss

Her weight loss has helped her in other ways too, "Things that used to be a chore don't bother me now. I now enjoy tidying the garden, and Paul and I even flight over who takes the dogs out as to who gets their steps in for that day."

"I have managed to change my mindset. If something is negative, I am able to turn it into a positive and I now make better choices," she added.

An example of Hewitt's old food diary:

  • Breakfast - tea and toast, with a large full English at the weekends

  • Lunch - 4 slices of sandwiches and crisps

  • Dinner - chicken chips and a salad side Snacks - wine every night

An example of Hewitt's new food diary post-weight loss:

  • Breakfast - poached eggs

  • Lunch - pitta with tuna and salad

  • Dinner - home made fish fingers

  • Snacks - low calorie crisps

Additional reporting Caters.

Watch: Dr Michael Mosley speaks on the importance of exercise in weight loss