By Rebecca Drew
THIS WOMAN was spurred on to lose weight and ditch her four times a week KFC or McDonald’s habit in order to qualify for the BREAST REDUCTION surgery she dreamt of ever since she was FOURTEEN after being told her BMI was too high.
Administrator, Ashlee Higham (23) originally from Manchester, UK, but now living in Melbourne, Australia, never considered herself to be overweight until she saw photos of herself after a trip back home to the UK in June 2017.
Having recently moved to a desk job where she was sitting for up to seven hours a day from previously working as a drive thru bottle shop attendant, Ashlee hadn’t noticed the weight creep on but would always reach for baggy clothing to cover up. On top of this, she would eat McDonald’s or KFC at least four times a week and loved eating any sort of deep-fried food and spent her weekends drinking and eating out with no physical exercise to counteract her sedentary lifestyle.
Ashlee was embarrassed by the photos from her trip but since deciding that she wanted a breast reduction when she was 14 because of back pain she was shocked when at 21 her doctor told her she didn’t qualify because at 5ft 3in and 14st her BMI of 33 to 34 was too high.
Determined to lose weight so that she could have her reduction surgery, Ashlee started going to the gym five times a week and ditched her junk food habits in favour of healthy chicken with vegetables.
Now at 9st 4lb, Ashlee qualified for her surgery and went under the knife in September 2018 going from a K cup to a C cup and since her weight loss has shrunk from UK size 16 to a size six to eight and says that her self-confidence has grown immeasurably.
“I had an extremely poor diet and moved from a somewhat active job to a job where I just sat at a desk for seven hours. I ate McDonald’s or KFC at least four times every week and spent my weekends drinking and eating out,” said Ashlee.
“I loved any kind of fries and basically anything deep fried. I avoided any kind of physical activity and refused to eat fruits and veggies but I had never really thought of myself as big until I looked at those photos.
“Looking back, I was embarrassed and for the first time I was beginning to notice stretch marks on my stomach which encouraged me to start making a change.
“I had incredibly low self-confidence. I couldn’t wear anything that I wanted to, and always grabbed clothing in the largest size I could possibly get, purely to hide my body shape.
“Getting a breast reduction was a lengthy process from initially deciding I wanted one when I was around 14, to eventually getting one at 22. After being told when I was 21 that I did not qualify for a breast reduction on the public wait list as my BMI was too high, I became determined to make sure I was below that threshold.
“I never really saw it as a change of lifestyle long term, but more as a means of getting what I needed. Being given such a strict deadline and weight that I needed to get to was incredibly motivating, as the reduction is something I have wanted since I was 14. Knowing I was the only person stopping myself from getting it was what made me keep going.
“I began by going to the gym five times a week. In the beginning I just sat on the bike or the elliptical for around half an hour, or occasionally threw in a few machines. A few months into my journey, I took part in an eight-week challenge at my gym which provided me with strength workouts each day.
“It was then that I developed a love and passion for training. After the challenge finished, I began researching workouts and training splits, watching YouTube videos and designing my own training programs. I now do a combination of strength and cardio training and am currently working towards running my first half marathon.
“Before, I was someone who ate insane amounts of junk and avoided any kind of physical activity. Now, I am someone who still enjoys the occasional junk food, but also values the nutritional and functional properties which food provides me with.
“Going from avoiding activity, to it being something I crave, and which provides me with an escape is one of the biggest differences.”
Before her weight loss, Ashlee would typically have a McDonald’s chocolate frappe, egg and bacon McMuffin, hash brown and sometimes a slice of banana bread for breakfast on her way to work; a tray of wedges and a meat pie or sausage roll for lunch; oven chips and a chicken Kiev or burger or pizza for dinner with ice cream or cake for dessert; and crisps, biscuits and muffins for a snack.
Now Ashlee enjoys the occasional junk food but typically has Greek yoghurt and berries for breakfast; grilled chicken and roast potatoes for lunch; chicken breast with rice, spinach and cherry tomatoes for dinner with either Greek yoghurt with fruit or a bagel with honey for dessert; and fruit, protein bars and rice cakes for a snack.
Ashlee now goes to the gym between six and seven times a week working on both strength and cardio, which is something she found a struggle at the start of her journey.
“I have a lot more confidence in myself and am still in shock at how much my body and mental state has changed,” she said.
“The hardest part was definitely forming the habit of exercising. Getting to the gym in the beginning was insanely difficult, and I often found myself driving straight past it.
“It took a long time to make exercising part of my routine, and to get to the stage where I am excited to go to the gym, but it has been so worth it.
“Friends and family have been super supportive through the whole process and so lovely about the whole thing. One of the main things I get is questions about how I did it, and how long it took.
“Start small. Add in a twenty-minute walk or stop eating your daily muffin. The smallest of changes can make such a huge difference in the beginning.
“Rather than going all in, implement small changes and gradually adjust your lifestyle to where you would like it to be.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/ashkhfitness