Before and after. Heather Ernst /

By Liana Jacob

MEET the determined woman who has shed more than eight-stone in just eighteen-months after her size and cruel taunts from bullies left her suicidal.

Growing up, Heather Ernst (25), from Massachusetts, USA, was bullied by her peers for her weight which led her to finding comfort in food when she felt low. Eating whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted, resulted in her reaching her heaviest weight of 18st 11Ibs and a UK size 20-22.

Heather (right) before. Heather Ernst /

Heather was diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder in 2010. Whilst on a family trip, she was ridiculed about her size and says she sat on the bathroom floor and even considered ending her life.

It wasn’t until she saw her own father, an ex-marathon runner, suffer from diabetes and multiple strokes that Heather decided enough was enough. She underwent a vertical sleeve gastrectomy and has shrunk to 10st 6Ibs and a UK size six to eight, eating just 1,200-calories a day.

“I had always been made fun of for my size, whether it was peers at school or even family. Someone always had a comment,” Heather said.

Before and after. Heather Ernst /

“The worse I felt and the constant teasing led to me using food as a source of emotional comfort. When I was sad – I ate an entire pint of ice cream. I even recall eating an entire ice cream cake to myself one day.

“I was in a very toxic relationship but I accepted the love that I thought that I deserved, and ended up spending four years of my life with someone that did not treat me very well or respect me.

“I was miserable and I hated every single aspect of myself. The higher the number got on the scale, the worse I felt.

Before and after. Heather Ernst /

“I felt trapped in my own body. After my relationship ended, I didn’t know what to think. I thought he was the person I would marry.

“I flew to New Orleans on a family trip and after being ridiculed about my size the entire trip, I went back to the hotel room and grabbed a bottle of pills, sat on the bathroom floor and thought about killing myself. I didn’t think I had anything left to live for.

“My father was very sick for a very long time. He was diabetic and never managed his sugars, suffered multiple strokes.

Before and after. Heather Ernst /

“I was seeing first-hand what happens when you don’t take care of yourself and I refused for that to be my life. It was then that I decided to take control of my life.

“On November 9, 2015, I underwent weight loss surgery to have the vertical sleeve gastrectomy done. That, combined with exercising and diet I managed to shed the pounds.

“My father passed away in April of 2016 but I am happy he got to see the efforts I made because of him.

Heather wearing old trousers. Heather Ernst /

“Losing weight has changed my life entirely for the better. It pains me to think that I’ve almost taken my life on multiple occasions because I was so unhappy with myself.”

Despite the difficult life Heather has experienced, she managed to completely turn her diet and exercise routine around; exercising four to five times a week, attending spin and yoga classes.

She now eats healthily; a lot of lean meat, fruits and vegetables and avoids carbohydrates.

Heather now. Heather Ernst /

“I used to use food in all the wrong ways. Instead of treating it like emotional support, I use it to fuel my body,” she added.

“That doesn’t mean I don’t allow myself to eat some unhealthier options from time to time but that’s very infrequently but I try to only eat a little. It’s all about moderation.

“I also try to limit my soda consumption. I used to drink over twenty cans of diet soda in less than a weeks’ time. Now I enjoy one maybe once every few months. Drinking water and staying hydrated is important.

Heather with boyfriend of nearly two years. Heather Ernst /

“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. I am a fraction of what I used to be and it is shocking when I run into people I haven’t seen in a while.

“I find most people are sincerely happy for me and are proud. It’s nice to feel like I have so many supporters. I think that’s what helps me stay on track, knowing there are so many people rooting for me. I never felt like I had that before.

“Focus on your food first. Make sure you prep your meals. If you make your food in advance and pack it for work – you’ll be less likely to give into temptations.”

Heather now. Heather Ernst /

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