A SIZE 30 woman has shed an incredible 15 stone – without exercising.
Wendy Dougal, 44, tipped the scales at a whopping 26st 3lb and was scoffing 3,000 calories a day prior to her amazing weight loss.
It was only when her husband David, 48, was diagnosed with heart failure in July 2016 that she realised she wasn't fit enough to look after him.
So, that very same day, she signed up to her local WW group, formerly known as WeightWatchers, and made a vow to change.
Determined, she ditched her diet of bacon sandwiches, pizza and ice cream, and before long, the pounds began to melt away.
Now, Wendy, of Cullercoats, Tyne and Wear, has slimmed down to 11st 3lb and wears a size 12.
She said: “After David was diagnosed with heart failure, I was told he would need round-the-clock care.
"I remember thinking that I could barely look after myself – how on earth was I going to look after my husband?
"In a way, it's David's heart failing that ended up saving my life. If I'd have carried on the way I was going, who knows how long I would have had left."
David's heart failing that ended up saving my life. If I'd have carried on the way I was going, who knows how long I would have had left
Wendy, a former customer care assistant who gave up work to look after David, had a healthy relationship with food growing up.
But when she was 15 years old, then a size 12, she became the victim of playground bullying.
Miserable, Wendy turned to food for comfort, reaching for cakes, sweets and chocolate whenever it all got too much.
She said: "Looking back, it's so clear to me now that's where my problematic relationship with food began.
“From that point onward, food was something I turned to for comfort."
From there, Wendy saw the pounds pile on until she reached her mid-thirties, where her weight "plateaued" at roughly 20 stone, with her squeezing into a size 22.
Adopting what she calls a "quick and easy" diet, Wendy would regularly kick start her day with a fried breakfast from the greasy spoon café near her work, followed by a carb-heavy meal deal for lunch, before finishing off the day with a takeaway doner kebab or frozen ready meal.
“It was a slippery slope. With each increase in dress size, I just thought I was becoming curvier,” she recalled.
“By the time I was a size 22, I had convinced myself that I preferred wearing baggy clothes when, in reality, I wouldn't be able to fit into a smaller dress size anyway."
At times, Wendy found dating challenging, but all that changed when she was introduced to David through mutual friends in 2006.
She said: "I was always honest when it came to online dating and never tried to hide my weight, but as soon as people clocked just how big I was, I could tell straight away that they weren't interested.
"Who wants their blind date to end up weighing 20 stone?
"On the odd occasion my weight didn't put them off, my self-confidence would get the better of me and I'd end up breaking it off myself out of insecurity.
"But that all changed when I met David, he told me on one of our first dates that he saw me for me, and not my weight."
Confiding in Wendy, David told of how he had struggles of his own, having been born with transposition of the great arteries, where the two main blood vessels leaving the heart – the pulmonary artery and the aorta – are switched over.
As a result, blood flows to the lungs and picks up oxygen, but is then pumped back to the lungs instead of travelling around the body, and blood flowing round the body is unable to reach the lungs to pick up oxygen – all of which, after years of treatment, have left him with a weakened heart.
Wendy said: "I always knew that David's heart problem meant that there was a chance he would run into problems later on in life, but when you fall in love, that's something you just have to prepare for."
The couple tied the knot on Valentine’s Day 2009 at the Village Hotel in Newcastle, Tyne and Wear.
But settling in to married life, Wendy’s weight began to creep up once again.
"Like so many others, once I got hitched, I started to notice the weight piling on,” she said.
“But unlike most new brides, I already weighed 20 odd stone by the time I walked down the aisle."
How Wendy has changed her diet
- Bacon sarnies
- Sandwich and crisps
- Pizza and ice cream
- Bottle of wine
- Baked banana pancakes
- Three bean chilli
- Roast salmon bake
- Herbal tea
By the time she reached her forties, Wendy found herself squeezing into a size 30, tipping the scales at 26st 3lb.
Then, in July 2017, at a regular heart check-up, David was given the devastating blow that he had gone into heart failure.
With a heart transplant deemed too risky because of his weakened lungs, he was put on a series of medication, but only as a means to extend his life, not to cure him.
Determined to beat the bulge to care for her husband, Wendy immediately signed up to her local WW slimming group and was soon having her first weigh in front of a complete group of strangers.
"I hadn’t weighed myself in years. I was too heavy for the bathroom scales back home, so standing on the scales and realising just how heavy I had let myself get was one of the lowest moments of my life," she said.
"But the thing about being at an all-time low is the only way is up."
Swapping her quick and easy diet for WW's point-counting system, in her first week alone, Wendy lost an astonishing 13 pounds and has not looked back since.
Within six months, she was down to 20 stone and found herself able to manage things she had not done in years, from climbing to the stairs without getting out of breath to walking to the local shops instead of getting the bus.
Now a svelte size 12 and weighing 11st 3lbs, Wendy runs her own WW group and shares daily tips and recipes to her Instagram account.
Best of all, she is able to give David the ongoing support he needs.
Now sharing her story to prove it is never too late to transform your life, she said: "We can't know how long David has left with us, but one thing I do know is I wouldn't be able to care for him if I'd never lost the weight.”
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