Woman shares how her inspiring weight loss journey didn't stop trolls — and living with lipoedema

The clip showed me doing a skipping workout until I dripped with sweat.

The likes racked up and I felt good, but then came the comment ‘fat pig’, and my happiness faded away.

As a child I’d always been slim, but an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise meant that by the time I turned 18, I was a size 18 and almost 16st.

I’d always dreamed of being a police officer but knew I wasn’t physically fit enough, so I spent the next year working hard to shape up.

I was totally out of my comfort zone as I swapped chocolate and biscuits for veg and wholegrain bread, but with the help of a personal trainer, as well as running and going to the gym five or six times a week, the weight dropped off.

After a year, my top half was a size 12, but my legs were still big at a size 16, which was baffling.

I hated how they looked, so I refused to wear dresses or block colours that might draw attention to my misshapen body. What made it worse was that I still failed the physical exam when I applied to join the police, which left me feeling hopeless. I stopped training and started to comfort-eat.

In January 2011 I went to Georgia in the US to study business administration.

Scoffing endless slices of pizza, I was soon a size 22 and weighed 18st. I knew I was too big, but couldn’t find the motivation to slim down even though I loathed my frumpy appearance.

I returned home that May and, instead of trying to lose weight, I hid my body under baggy tops and trousers.

When I landed a job as an accounts clerk in an office in 2013, I had to squeeze my belly under my desk and my confidence hit an all-time low.

By the following March, I had back pain and felt sluggish. I was only 22 and didn’t want to live like that, so I plucked up the courage to go to female-only Zumba classes.

Once again, I began giving up my favourite sugary snacks for healthy vegetables and training three times a week, running and lifting weights.

As I made friends at the gym, I could feel my confidence growing, but I still wasn’t happy.

Even though I got down to 12st over nine months and could fit into a size 10-12 on my top, my legs were still a size 16.

They’d also started to look bumpy, like orange peel.

I’d look at myself in the mirror and feel dismayed – but it never occurred to me to see a GP.

I assumed that must be how my body was naturally.

Thankfully, family and friends were very supportive.

I’d worked hard to get into shape, so decided to post pictures of myself online in March last year.

I was shocked when some people accused me of having surgery.

They couldn’t believe I had such a tiny waistline with such chunky legs.

I refused to let them get me down, though, and continued to upload photos and workout videos – even when my legs crept up to a size 18 last summer.

I loved that most people saw me as an inspiration.

Then, in April 2017, a new follower called Karen suggested I might have lipoedema, a condition she suffered from.

I discovered it was an abnormal build-up of fat cells that made legs look large and lumpy.

It made perfect sense.

Armed with research, I saw my GP, who referred me to a specialist, and in November I was diagnosed with lipoedema.

It was a relief, but there was little I could do.

Liposuction was one solution, but it didn’t always work.

Most people try to manage it with low-carb diets and fitness, which is what I do.


BTW

  • 78% of women with lipoedema developed it between the ages of 18 and 25.*
  • Entourage actress Beau Dunn was diagnosed in 2011.

Find support at Lipoedema.co.uk.

 

Since my diagnosis I’ve become friends with Karen and I’m studying to be a personal trainer.

Although I’m single, I’m so body-confident I wouldn’t let it affect me if I was dating, and being called a fat pig no longer bothers me.

Of course people still troll me, but for every negative comment, I get 50 positive ones, so I know I’m making a difference.

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