By Alyce Collins
AFTER attending a friend’s wedding this woman was MORTIFIED to find out that her size had caused her dress to SPLIT OPEN but even this didn’t stop her gaining more weight and reaching a massive EIGHTEEN STONE – it wasn’t until she was left struggling to BREATHE during a holiday in Greece that she finally sought help.
Photography sales assistant, Hannah Rochford (30) from Somerset, UK, had always felt bigger than her friends and felt insecure wearing a swimming costume during swimming lessons at just 10 years old.
As a teenager, Hannah weighed 12 stone and wore a size 14 and was often called fat by peers. By 2012, Hannah was in her final year of university and her mum bought a low carb diet book which Hannah wanted to try so she could lose weight before her graduation as her weight rose to 15 stone. The low carb diet helped Hannah shed five stone over six months, but she couldn’t maintain the restrictive diet and by 2013 she had gained all the weight back.
Hannah’s weight made her want to stay in all the time, and any time she did leave the house, she would drive – regardless of how short the journey was.
In May 2017, Hannah attended a friend’s wedding wearing a long-sleeved black floral dress which covered her arms and stretched over her frame. Despite having a wonderful evening celebrating, when she woke up the next morning, she saw that the back of the dress had split open. Hannah was humiliated and hoped no one had seen.
At her heaviest weight of 18 stone and a size 20, Hannah went to Greece in September and struggled in the heat, leading her to feel like she was suffocating. Although she knew she had to lose weight, Hannah put it off until she came across some Slimming World Instagram accounts which inspired her to join in January 2018.
Since joining Slimming World, Hannah has lost seven stone and now weighs 11st, and is a size 12, although she continues to lose even more weight.
“Even aged 10 I felt insecure about how I looked in a swimming costume,” said Hannah.
“When I was 15, my mother fell pregnant with my little sister. I remember going with her to one of her scans and the doctor assumed I was next. I think about my childhood and just remember feeling self-conscious all the time.
“I always felt dumpy compared to my peers and I was always the biggest one in the group. I weighed about 12 stone as a teenager and wore a size 14.
“When I got called names and had mean comments said about me, I felt so upset. I could feel the sadness rising up like hot air filling my body, but I felt so helpless because I knew I couldn’t change overnight.
“In 2012, my mother got a book on low carb dieting while I was in my final year of university weighing 15 stone. I had heard that low carb diets could help you lose weight fast, and it’s just what I needed in time for my graduation because I didn’t want to graduate and be over 15 stone.
“I lost a lot of weight in the first week, but it became addictive, and I started getting health problems like my hair falling out. I didn’t eat any fruit at all in six months, no bread, rice or pasta.
“In six months, I lost over five stone but I couldn’t maintain that diet and gained all my weight back.
“I became very lazy and I felt sorry for myself which turned into comfort eating all of the bad things for a quick burst of energy which didn’t last very long so I would go back for more. My diet consisted of crumpets with butter and a coffee with milk and sugar for breakfast, lunch was usually a baguette with plenty of filling, crisps, a fizzy drink and chocolate bar. Then for dinner it was more often than not a takeaway – pizza was my favourite!
“In May 2017, I attended a friend’s wedding and wore a full length, long-sleeved dress with buttons down the front. It was black with a floral print; I chose it because it was stretchy and had sleeves – I didn’t wear anything unless it had long sleeves because I was so ashamed of my arms.
“I didn’t realise anything was wrong during the night, but the morning after I saw that the back had completely split open! I was so humiliated and just hoped no one saw since nobody said anything on the night.”
Just a few months after her dress disaster, Hannah visited Zante with her family and boyfriend, Samuel, while at her heaviest weight of 18 stone. Hannah hated feeling so insecure about her figure while around other women in swimwear who were slimmer than her.
After her holiday, Hannah delayed losing weight for months but she knew that something had to change, or she’d develop diabetes by the time she was 30. Since joining Slimming World in January 2018, Hannah has seen her weight drop drastically and she has developed a love for cooking, walking and running.
“In September 2017, I went to Zante, but I couldn’t walk far without having a coughing fit. I felt so ashamed that I had done this to myself,” said Hannah.
“During the holiday we went on a boat trip and we were all allowed to jump off the boat. There was a slim woman in front of me and I felt humiliated because of my size. I wondered what she thought of me. I felt that everybody was looking at me, so I stayed in most nights because I was so tired and breathless.
“I had no confidence at all, and I felt depressed. I felt sad all the time, so I hid away. I always wore black, I lived in leggings and long tops, with big cardigans over the top, even in summer. I wasn’t living, I was just existing. I started going days without showering or making myself look presentable because everything seemed like a chore.
“I knew I had to do something after the way I felt in Greece, but I wasn’t ready. It was when I started seeing stretch marks developing on my stomach and arms that I knew I needed to do something. I was 28 and I knew that if I wasn’t careful, I could develop diabetes.
“I started following some Slimming World accounts on Instagram. I found it so inspiring seeing the amazing results that other people were getting. I knew I had to give Slimming World my best shot and I couldn’t believe everything you could eat on Slimming World.
“In my first week, I lost eight pounds even though I was able to eat pasta, cheese and chocolate. My diet now includes porridge for breakfast with lots of blueberries and raspberries and a coffee without sugar.
“For lunch I make arancini from a Slimming World recipe with a salad, then for dinner it’s homemade hunter’s chicken usually. For snacks, a chocolate bar is a treat but I also have cold meats or fruit.
“I wake up early now and I walk everywhere. I walk to work and back every day now and I eat so many vegetables now. I absolutely love cooking and I’m not scared of carbs anymore. I look forward to every day and I like my figure now. I respect my body.
“Slimming World isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle which has saved me. I want to stress how important the groups that they offer are. You meet amazing people who will become friends for life. I am the happiest I have been in a long time. One of the best things about it is that nothing is restricted. You can eat anything that you want, but in certain quantities.”
To see more, go to: www.instagram.com/hannah_grace_sw
To find your nearest Slimming World group call: 0344 897 8000 or log on to www.slimmingworld.co.uk