My family are built big so being fat didn't bother me – until I faced three heartbreaking crises | The Sun
FACED with a series of health disasters, one woman knew she had to do something about her weight, or risk leaving her two children without a mum.
Amy Smith, 37, has lost an incredible seven stone in three years, slimming from a dress size 22 to 8-10, after she was shocked into action.
Having spent years being very overweight, she was finally motivated to go on a diet when her brother suffered a heart attack, aged just 29.
Amy, from Horley, Sussex, says: “Looking back, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t overweight.
“My family are all big-built, and for a long time, my weight didn’t bother me much.
“When I met my husband-to-be, Andrew, 40, I was a size 16; by the time we married, six years later, I was a size 20.
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“I did try and diet just before our wedding, but it was only in the last couple of months as an after-thought.”
But over time, the former legal secretary says being overweight gradually started to affect her health.
She says: “In 2011, I had my first attack of gallstones, while on a holiday with my husband.
“We went to dinner at a Hard Rock Cafe and the next day I woke up in agony.
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“For an hour or so, I honestly thought I was dying.
“Afterwards there were more painful attacks, until I was diagnosed with gallstones and had to have the gallbladder removed.
“Without a gallbladder, the body struggles to process any fats. Doctors warned me that I needed a low fat diet.
“But I still didn’t listen and continued eating whatever I liked.”
After that, Amy says her body felt sluggish and bloated, almost all the time.
But she continued to live in denial.
She recalls: “The first time I really realised that my weight was an issue, came when I struggled to conceive.
“I was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries – linked to being overweight.
“Doctors told me that in order to fall pregnant I’d need an op to remove some of the cysts.
“But I was so obese, they said they wouldn’t do the surgery until I lost five stone – and at the time, I was desperate to start a family, so that was devastating.
“Fortunately, and without the surgery, I managed to conceive naturally.
“But both my pregnancies were classed as high-risk because of obesity.”
She developed pre-eclampsia with each of her two babies, Theo, seven, and Leah, five, who she looks after full time.
Amy says: “Theo was born weighing 10lbs 4oz – after two weeks in hospital being monitored – as a crash Caesarean section.
“Being overweight also sent my blood pressure sky high, so for the next five years, I was under a blood pressure clinic, having annual checkups for hypertension.”
In 2016, after Leah was born weighing 9lbs, Amy was at her biggest ever, when her family was shaken by her brother’s heart attack.
She continues: “My family has a history of heart disease.
“My granddad died at 58 of a heart attack; my dad had one aged 40.
“But even so it was a horrible shock when my younger brother suffered a serious heart attack, aged 29.
“Thankfully, he recovered after having stents fitted. Today, his health isn’t great, but he manages.
“But his heart attack made me realise I couldn’t go on the way I was – something had to change. It was time I took charge of my body.
“By this time I was a mum with a two-year-old and a newborn, struggling to do simple things like get up and down off the floor to play with the children.
“I wanted to ensure that I kept my heart healthy for my young family.”
'A NEW START'
By January 2019, Amy wanted a new start.
One of her friends is a SlimmingWorld consultant, and watching her success helping others, she decided SlimmingWorld was the right path.
Although Amy joined the club only two months before lockdown began, she found its recipes worked so well for her, that during the pandemic she switched to slimming club zoom meetings and managed to stay on track for the next two years.
At the end of that time, 5 feet 4 inches tall Amy had slimmed from 17st 1lb to 10st.
She says: “As soon as I started on the club’s low fat, low sugar diet, I felt better – less bloated, more energetic.
“I hadn’t realised how much being overweight was affecting me.
“On the Slimming World diet, I was a steady loser – sometimes shedding up to 5lb a week.
“As the weight came off, I knew I looked much better. But much more important than that was the dramatic effect on my health and wellbeing.
“I’d barely exercised for many years, but now as I got more energy, I started doing home workouts, then took up jogging, then running.
“By the time we emerged from lockdown, I was a whole new person.
“People I hadn’t seen for a while didn’t recognise me!”
INTO THE RING
Amy reached her target weight in March 2022 – you can see more photos of her dramatic transformation on Instagram @amysmith.sw.
In May 2022 she ran her first 10km race. She has also taken up boxing and recently competed in a charity match.
Amy says: ”I’ve always enjoyed watching boxing on the TV, particularly women’s boxing.
“For the 2012 London Olympics I got tickets to watch the boxing – I was able to watch GB’s Nicola Adams win a gold medal.
“When my son started school, I heard that a local mum was running a box fit class for mums from the school. I started going along two years ago.
“The organiser told me that I had a natural flair for boxing.
“When she decided to organise a charity boxing match for Cancer Research, she asked me to get involved.
“It came under the umbrella organisation UWCB – Ultra White Collar Boxing.
“Their events are upmarket and very glamorous, the men are in evening suits and the women wear long dresses. They sit at tables and are given table service.”
Amy had to undertake eight weeks intensive training in readiness for her first match.
“It was tough. In the run-up to the event, in the training ring, I was hit in the face and got a massive black eye – I could still see traces of it, three months later!
“Towards the end of my training, I was paired with an opponent.
“We were both in the lightweight equivalent class – but my opponent was quite a bit bigger than me. She was 5ft 9ins tall.
“On the day, our fight lasted three rounds. But I lost it on points – it was a split decision – it came down to just a few points in the end.
"To get involved with boxing, you have to be reasonably brave, in that you must be prepared to get hurt.
“After the match, every single one of my female friends said: ‘I can’t believe you got in a boxing ring, I’d never dare do that.’
“Even some of my male friends told me that they wouldn’t have done it!
“But I loved it and am aiming to do it again – I’m still going to classes and might compete in another match likely to take place this year."
Meanwhile, at her annual hypertension review, the results for her blood pressure and cholesterol tests were so good she has been discharged as a patient.
Amy, who has started studying to become a personal trainer, says: “I’m very proud – and so are my family.
“My husband has always been so supportive, he just wanted me to do what makes me happy.
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“And he can see I’m so much healthier and more confident these days.
“My children haven’t really noticed – although the other day I showed Theo a picture of me before my weight loss, and he gasped, ‘Mummy, how did you change so much?’”
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