An obese mum lost half her body weight during lockdown after hearing she’d be more likely to die if she got Covid — leaving her kids without a mum.
Size 22 Emma Forrest-Leigh, 46, weighed 18 stone when the pandemic hit the UK and was terrified when she realised it made her very vulnerable.
Determined to beat the bulge, she watched Boris’ government daily virus updates to “scare” her on track, and keep her away from wine, meat and sweets.
And over the last six months she has shed HALF her body weight, slimming down to a healthy nine stone, and a svelte size 10.
Emma, a jeweller from North Kesteven, Lincolnshire said: “I’ve got two small children, I’m in my 40s now and I thought I need to sort my health – losing weight was completely for health reasons, not for vanity.
“When the pandemic broke and the message was coming out about weight and everything, it made me think I need to stick with losing weight and really knuckle down.
“I was starting to read the articles that said my weight would make me more likely to get seriously ill from coronavirus and it was really scary, especially as a mother.
“That was the pin in the map for me to make it stick – the pandemic made me think ‘right, I’m doing this now’ because the pandemic isn’t going away unfortunately.
“I made sure to watch the updates every day as it was a really stark reminder about the obesity level and why I was losing this weight in the first place.
“The daily updates helped to keep me motivated with seeing how health is a major priority for everybody at the moment.”
Emma had struggled with her weight for as long as she can remember, the pounds creeping on as she indulged in snacks during her busy work day.
She realised that she needed to lose weight after her husband suffered a serious stroke in 2016, but struggled to stick to any diet.
Emma said: “At that time, you look and you wonder how you’d cope as a single parent.
“Fortunately, he’s recovered, but I wouldn’t want to put him in that position either.
“He’s actually fought his way back from what he’s been through so if he’s got the determination to do that, then I can at least get around to losing some weight.
“You can’t control fate and anything can happen at any time but I thought at least I can do my very best to make myself as healthy as I can.”
Busy at work, Emma would live on snacks that were easy to grab, reaching for chocolate biscuits and diving into bags of Haribo whenever she felt hungry.
Determined to make a change, Emma cut sweets out of her life and ditched the booze completely, sticking to three meals a day without any snacks.
Her plate is still as full as before but big, healthy portions of vegetables have replaced mountains of chips and she has completely cut meat out of her diet.
Working from home next to the fridge proved to be a challenge, but Emma stayed strong by forcing herself to watch the government daily coronavirus updates.
Emma said: “I was making the kids lunch and dinner regularly so it was really tempting to pick at their meals when preparing them. I found that really hard but I was determined.”
After a few months she bought a bike and started getting up at 5.30am every weekend to cycle for an hour so she didn’t miss time with her sons, aged five and 10.
She’s now shed an incredible nine stone, impressing her husband and her kids with her new nine stone fit and healthy body.
Emma said: “I’ve got two small children and I need to be there for them, that’s all I care about really.
“My aim was to get into a healthy BMI range which I’ve just got into now and I think I could probably lose a little bit more weight still and then my job will be to maintain it.
“I feel like I can do things with the kids now and we can go on longer walks. My bike rides have been really good for my mental health as well as physical health too.
“I think I’m setting a great example for the kids. I’m not the mum picking them up from their after school social clubs that is the big mum any more that people would look at.
“During lockdown, I taught them an awful lot about cooking which is something I’d never really be interested in before so I feel really proud in that respect.
“I probably would never have been able to teach them about those sort of things before and I probably taught them the wrong things if I had carried on the way that I was.
“As I go into maintaining my weight, I won’t be drinking alcohol again as I haven’t missed it so there’s no point.
“My husband is really proud of me – we’ve been together 16 years and so many times, I’ve said I’m going to do it and then lose half a stone and stop.
“Every time, he’d support me and although he never says it, I’m sure he must think ‘oh here we go again’ but this time I’ve actually done it so I think it’s probably shocked him a little bit!”
Breakfast – nothing
Lunch – biscuits and crisps
Dinner – lots of meat, ready meals
Snacks – biscuits, Haribo sweets, wine
Breakfast – bran or toast with sugar free jam
Lunch – salad or a sandwich or a bowl of soup
Dinner – jacket potato (without butter) with beans and boiled vegetables