By Rebecca Drew
THIS BRITISH woman who as a teenager was so terrified of getting changed in front of her friends that she NEVER attended a single PE lesson has lost an impressive SEVEN-STONE in just over two years after ditching her diet of fast food lunches and FIVE CANS of fizzy drinks per day.
Commissioning development lead for the NHS, Jessica Seal (26) from Lewisham, United Kingdom, used food as an escape when she was growing up as her dad struggled with his mental health and she would indulge on chocolate to comfort herself. With her mum working nights, Jessica’s older sisters, Laura and Rebecca, who were only 13 and 17 at the time would look after her and serve up easy to prepare oven or microwave ready meals for dinner.
Jessica never attended PE lessons at school as she was terrified of getting changed in front of her friends, and as she got older while her friends were shopping in Topshop, she had to go to Dorothy Perkins because they specialised in bigger sizes.
She had a sweet tooth and would crave anything sweet which would see her drink two cans of regular coke, three cans of diet coke and a chocolate bar each evening but it wasn’t until she started to work in public health when she was 19 that Jessica started to realise that she needed to make a lifestyle change to avoid developing type two diabetes.
After her sister, Rebecca, was diagnosed with gestational diabetes whilst she was pregnant in 2014, at 17st 2lb and a UK size 18 to 20, Jessica had a BMI of 40 and decided to make a change. Jessica joined a spin class in March 2015 and eventually plucked up the courage to join her local gym where she started going twice a week. She educated herself on nutrition and started to prepare healthy meals for herself at the start of each week.
Now, Jessica is a super svelte size eight to 10 and 10st 5lb and feels more confident than she ever has before and she hopes to inspire others with her transformation and prove that you don’t need to join a slimming club, spend money on expensive meal plans or a personal trainer to lose weight.
“Whilst I was growing up, I used comfort eating as my escape because my dad has mental heath issues such as bipolar and psychosis and my mum worked evenings so my two sisters used to look after me, they were young themselves and couldn’t prepare home cooked meals so it was all Iceland oven and microwave food,” said Jessica.
“I was uneducated on nutrition and healthy eating and I was inactive as a child due to being overweight. At school I never did a lesson of PE because the thought of getting changed in a public place was horrific never mind actually getting on a trampoline.
“At the time, I thought I felt confident however I dreamed of shopping in the same shops as my friends – instead I had to go to stores like Dorothy Perkins that specialised in larger sizes as Topshop didn’t cater for my size.
“I used to get into a lot of trouble in secondary school with fights and being disruptive because I didn’t have any confidence within myself and this was how I got ‘accepted’ – only now I can look back and realise that’s how I felt although on the surface I wouldn’t have seemed bothered about my weight at all.
“At the age of 19 I started working in healthcare although that’s not when I lost the weight, I think that’s when I realised I had to make a change in my life. In late 2014 my sister became pregnant with my nephew and developed gestational diabetes due to being overweight and having a BMI over 30 and mine was reaching 40 at the time.
“Through my work I started to see the risks around obesity and awareness around eating healthy. I saw a picture of myself and the mayor of Lewisham that was taken in front of a theatre full of people when I completed my level three apprenticeship. When I saw it, I thought is that what I really look like, I couldn’t look at the picture because it made me feel so insecure and embarrassed.”
Before her weight loss Jessica would skip breakfast altogether, have a lunch of McDonald’s, KFC, a meal deal from Tesco or a sandwich from Subway and her dinner would consist of large portions of pre-prepared meals such as sausages, chips and bread or pizza. In between meals, Jessica would snack on anything sweet like biscuits, cakes or chocolate.
Now Jessica always makes time for breakfast which is rice cakes and fruit when she is on the go or poached eggs on brown toast if she’s at home, for lunch, she has chicken, rice and steamed vegetables or a homemade hotpot or salad and for dinner she has something similar or an oven baked salmon fillet.
Since her transformation, Jessica likes to keep herself busy whereas before she was happy to sit in front of the telly in the evening. She shares her weight loss journey to her Instagram page.
“Losing weight has made me much more aware of my health and how important it is to look after your body. Health is wealth,” she said.
“I have a lot more energy I find myself wanting to keep active and busy whereas before I was content with a pizza, bottle of coke and the TV.
“I feel much more confident, it has allowed me to think hard work does pay off and you can really achieve anything if you put your mind to it
I want to inspire others with my story. I never thought it was possible to achieve weight loss without signing up to a slimming club, buying meal replacements or a personal trainer.”
People don’t always recognise Jessica when she’s out and about because she looks so different than she did before, but she says that her friends and family have supported her throughout her lifestyle change – she shared her words of advice to others.
“A lot of people don’t recognise me, I have had to give people my full name before they realise who it is. My close friends and family are proud, they have supported and embraced my new found love for fitness and even my stepdad has lost just over two stone recently,” she said.
“Surround yourself with those who inspire you.
“If you never try, you’ll never know and it all starts from within and taking that first step to make a change, like I did with parking my car further and going to a spin class.”