Vikki Mills, 28, who just fit a size 32, decided to make some changes in January 2021, with a combination of therapy, better nutrition and weight training, helping to transform her life.
After an 'inspirational' course of counselling, Mills stumbled upon a Facebook group called Prime Life Project, a 'health and body composition coaching company'. She took the leap and decided to join for help with what to eat, training and mindfulness techniques.
Mills threw herself into it, and soon started shedding weight as she became more addicted to exercise than food, replacing takeaways with meals like chicken and rice.
She lost as much as 10 stone in just 20 months, now weighing 18 stone (114kg) as a size 18. She has since climbed mountains, joined women's strength competitions and pulled a 40-tonne truck over 10 metres –something she never thought she'd be able to do.
"I never intended to lose weight," says Mills, a mental health support worker from Sincil Bank, Lincoln.
"I just wanted to better myself and my mind.
"I don't think people realised how much I couldn't do as a 'big girl'.
"I can do so much more now – including shopping in town, a luxury I'm so grateful for."
When she signed up to the project, the team started a challenge to complete 7,500 steps daily without a gym during lockdown.
"I actually quite enjoyed the exercise," Mills recalls.
"The biggest problem was the food, I had to completely stop drinking and eating takeaways and I began to live off chicken, rice and Weetabix."
Mills got into the routine of making the same meal every day, but she also ate fruit and veg throughout her weight loss journey, and loved raspberries as part of her breakfast. If she did eat fish, she opted for tuna.
The NHS Eatwell Guide says that to have a healthy, balanced diet, people should try to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg every day, base meals on higher fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta, have some dairy or dairy alternatives, eat beans, pulses, fish eggs, meat or other protein, choose unsaturated oils and drink plenty of fluids.
It's also wise not to cut out certain food groups entirely, as this is not going to work long-term, and you need variety in what you eat.
After Mills joined the Facebook group, she was introduced to a coach, who would send her daily challenges to complete every week.
As well as the steps and meal plan, she wrote a diary entry each morning to go through her thoughts.
"The Facebook group was filled with similar women looking for guidance in nutrition, exercise and advice," Mills explains.
"I found it through my friend on her Facebook story."
And if she hadn't by chance seen it, her transformation might never have happened.
"It's turned my life around," she says.
"The routine is what helped me most, I needed that daily schedule and it was handed to me."
But her journey wasn't straight-forward, after losing seven stone (44kg) by July 2021, she unlocked a lot of "deep-rooted trauma" which understandably set her back a few weeks.
"I fell into a couple of bad habits, including drinking again, eating more takeaways and ignoring my daily challenges," she explains.
"I started to look at the mirror and see a different person.
"I needed time to adjust to the new woman staring in front of me."
But, with some more counselling, Mills returned to her new-found love of weight training (even joining the Kin3tic gym in Lincoln) and she got back on track with her daily meal plans.
As she improved, her bench press personal best went up to 70kg and her leg press reached 400kg.
In May 2022, Mills started training with a new coach, Alice Abbott, 27, under 'Team Syrius', and she's "loving every minute of it".
And away from the gym, her outdoor adventures began in August 2021, when she climbed Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland – in just four hours and 10 minutes.
"I just kept going, one step at a time, and gradually I got there," Mills says proudly.
"Looking over Scotland was just amazing, it's something that will stay with me forever."
And with her back even better and stronger this year, she also attended her first 'Push/Pull' event in Lincoln on 30 July, held every year in Lincolnshire, gathering the strongest of men and women to compete in a series of objects they need to, well, push and pull.
Mills made her mark and came an impressive second place in the women's competition, just behind Wales' third strongest woman Nikki Walters, 34.
But she didn't stop there, and decided to attempt to pull the heaviest of all, the 40-tonne truck.
Mills, the only woman at the event to attempt the challenge, managed to move it 10 metres in just one minute.
"I never for one minute thought I could pull that truck, but I wanted to give it a go," she says.
"I've been so overwhelmed with the support I've received, and I'm determined to attend more events – it was so much fun."
Other perks from her improved health included being able to go shopping for the first time in her life.
"I suddenly looked in the mirror and realised I'm a size 18. I don't think I've been a size 18 since I was 17," she says.
"I was overwhelmed by my new body.
"I can now wear a dress without feeling extremely insecure."
Mills is continuing to lose weight for a transformation category at a bodybuilding show. She is keeping to her daily routines while still prioritising her mental health to ensure she never reverts back to the woman who "ate takeaways and hated herself".
"The sky is your limit, and when the sky is too low, go to space," she says.
Vikki's 'before' diet
Breakfast - Peanut butter on toast and cereal
Lunch - Ham sandwich, cake and crisps
Dinner - Pick up takeaway, McDonalds
Snacks - Biscuits, sweets or cakes
Vikki's 'after' diet
Breakfast - Weetabix and raspberries
Lunch - Chicken wrap
Dinner - Chicken and rice or chicken pasta with tomato basil sauce
Snacks - Dark chocolate with Greek yoghurt
It's best to consult a doctor or professional before drastically changing your diet and setting out to make extreme changes to your weight and body.
Additional reporting SWNS.
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