A photo of a mum and toddler on their first family holiday abroad should have been one to cherish.
Instead, 133-kilo Kate Wood was disgusted at how huge she looked as she stood by the pool playing with her son George on their break in Majorca.
The photo prompted the mum-of-one to take drastic action and lose a life-changing 70kg, dropping from a size 26 to a 12.
‘I’ve always been big and have yo-yoed on various diets over the years.
'At university I ate a lot of takeaways and when my husband Lee and I got our first place we ate unhealthy quick oven-meals like Southern fried chicken and chips. I smoked 20 cigarettes a day and could drink a bottle of wine in one night,’ Kate, 33, of Abingdon, UK, says.
But when the business analyst found out she was pregnant with George in January 2011, she cut out alcohol and stopped smoking. ‘I really missed smoking,’ she explains.
‘So I effectively replaced my addiction to nicotine with an addiction to food. I was habitually snacking on chocolate, crisps, and I had real cravings for mini cheddars and Danish pastries. I loved the fact I could eat for two.’
When George was born in September 2011 Kate was too scared to weigh herself but reckons she was so enormous she must have been at least 146kg.
‘I lost a little bit of weight breastfeeding but at about 127kg I hated how big I was. Although I laughed it off to most people, I often moaned about it to Lee. I did anything to avoid him seeing me naked and made excuses not to go out on nights out because I could never find an outfit.'
Kate remembers the rude comments she received from strangers: ‘I was out in Oxford for my friend’s birthday one night. I was wearing tight jeans and I heard a bloke behind me saying something like: ‘Look at that, no-one needs to see all that on display.’ Although I didn’t cry, I felt so mortified I cut the night short and went home.’
The turning point came in December 2014 when Kate unwrapped her Christmas present from Lee.
‘When I saw he’d got me a Fitbit I was pleased, because I’d hinted I would like one,’ says Kate. ‘But I was also worried too because I didn’t know if I would really use it.’
To set up the Fitbit Kate had to programme in her weight. When she stepped on the scales the dial stopped at 143kg.
‘I was absolutely horrified that I was only half a stone away from the top of the scales,’ Kate says. ‘I couldn’t believe how heavy I was. The joints in my legs were always aching because of all the pressure they were under so that too meant that I knew I had to do something.’
Kate started walking the 2.4km from the Park and Ride stop to the office where she worked as a business analyst.
‘The first time I did it I was sweating like mad, my thighs were chafing together, and I could hardly breathe,’ Kate says. ‘I had to take a change of clothes to work it was so bad.’
Gradually she started to notice the weight coming off and by the time she flew to Majorca in May that year she was about 133kg.
‘When the air stewardess offered me a seatbelt extender I was absolutely horrified,’ explains Kate. ‘I insisted that I didn’t need one, and somehow managed to do my seatbelt up. For the whole journey it was digging into my stomach and really painful.’
Whilst in Majorca George was constantly on the go – around the pool and on the beach. ‘My size meant that it was really hard work trying to keep up with him,’ says Kate. ‘And I hated having to walk around in my swimsuit in front of everyone.’
It was only when the family got back and Lee, an operations manager, uploaded their holiday snaps onto the computer that Kate saw what she really looked like. ‘I took one look at the picture of me standing by the pool in my black-and-white costume and gasped: ‘Oh my God that’s disgusting. I don’t want to see it!’ I just couldn’t bear to look at myself.’
Seeing that picture made Kate realise that something drastic needed to be done. So she picked up an old exercise bike from her mum and set the alarm for 5am every morning so that she could half-an-hour cycling before George woke up.
She also bought the Joe Wicks, Lean in 15 cookbook and followed his recipes, cutting down on the chocolate snacks, and swapping takeaways for home-cooked meals. Kate following Joe Wicks’ workouts on Youtube and for 20-minutes four times a week.
‘I started to lose up to a kilo a week,’ Kate says. ‘It was a gradual process and people didn’t notice at first but then slowly friends and family began to see the difference.’
Gradually, the walk to work was getting easier, and quicker, so Kate started walking the 2.4km back to the Park and Ride after work too.
When Christmas 2015 arrived, Lee, now 37, updated her old Fitbit with a new one, and she carried on using it to monitor her steps and lose weight steadily.
I haven’t just lost more than half of my body weight, I’m also fitter than I’ve ever been. I’m glad to be a good role-model for George
Kate began enjoying exercise so much that in October 2017 she took part in the Oxford Half Marathon, and has just signed up for her first triathlon.
‘Now I weigh 64kg and I’m a size 12,’ says Kate proudly. ‘I’ve lost 11 and a half stones and I feel healthier than ever. I look forward to nights out now because I love buying new dresses and showing off my figure. And now I’m comfortable walking around naked when I’m getting ready in the morning!’
Looking back at the holiday pictures now makes Kate feel like she’s looking at a different person. People who haven’t seen Kate for a while don’t recognise her, and even George refers to the old pictures as ‘Fat Mummy’.
‘Just the other day he put his arms around me and smiled and said: “I can touch my hands now Mummy, that means you’re really fit!” beams Kate. ‘And it’s true, I haven’t just lost more than half of my body weight, I’m also fitter than I’ve ever been. I’m glad to be a good role-model for George.’