By Alyce Collins
THIS WOMAN would gorge on a FULL BAG OF CHEESE for dinner until the prospect of getting married as a SIZE TWENTY BRIDE pushed her to drop SIX dress sizes and squeeze into a SIZE EIGHT wedding dress.
Customer service advisor Natalie Mellor (29) from Brough, East Yorkshire, UK, had always been larger than her friends when she was younger, but as the years went by she gradually became even larger.
When Natalie and her now husband Gavin (34) discovered they were expecting their first child together in 2015, they were overjoyed, but pregnancy caused Natalie to gain weight rapidly. Nearing the end of her pregnancy, she became aware that she was nearing morbid obesity and she wasn’t just putting herself at risk, but her son too.
During the pregnancy, Natalie and Gavin got engaged, and as thrilled as they both were about their future nuptials, she realised that she didn’t want to be a bride in a size 20 dress. After welcoming the couple’s first child, Henry (4), Natalie’s weight didn’t improve because food had become an emotional crutch for her. She admits that she would eat when she was unhappy to console herself but she’d also eat as a celebratory treat when she was happy.
Natalie’s weight reached 15st 7lb before she realised, and she felt ashamed of her large frame. The embarrassment at having let her weight soar stopped Natalie from socialising because she didn’t want to be looked at, she didn’t wear the nice clothes she saw in shops because she didn’t like her figure and she feared that she wouldn’t be able to nimbly move around the children’s play areas with her son, making her feel uncomfortable as a mum.
In 2016, Natalie joined Slimming World to lose weight and there was no better target than her wedding in June 2017. Fitting into her dress and looking immaculate was Natalie’s aim because she wanted to feel beautiful and to treasure all the photos from the day – as opposed to deleting them like she’d done with all her holiday snaps. In under a year, Natalie shed six stone and now she weighs just 9st 7lb and wears a size eight.
“I’ve always struggled with my weight from a young age, but I seemed to gradually get bigger and bigger compared to my friends,” said Natalie.
“It was when I fell pregnant with my first child, Henry, that it was made apparent that I was morbidly obese and was putting us both at risk.
“During this time my husband asked me to marry him, which of course I was happy about, but it also filled me with dread because of the size I was.
“I am an emotional eater; I surpass every emotion with food, like a celebratory takeaway or a condolence tub of ice cream. Breakfast was a sausage or bacon sandwich on the go. For lunch I’d usually have an unhealthy fast food thing that was a grab and dash. Dinner was a pasta bake with a full bag of grated cheese, so it was extra gooey, with garlic bread and a sticky toffee pudding to finish.
“Snacks were crisps, biscuits and chocolate. I also never factored in my alcohol intake, so I’d drink a lot of wine.
“I was embarrassed, ashamed and humiliated that I had let myself get so overweight. It held me back from many things, such as wearing clothes that I wanted to wear, going for promotions at work, and being sociable in more high-end establishments.
“Being pregnant made me look back and reflect on when I’d spent time with my nephew and wasn’t able to squeeze myself into children’s play areas or be in a water park. It made me not want to feel that uncomfortable with my own children.”
After a holiday to Turkey in September 2014, Natalie deleted all of the images of herself because she was deeply unhappy with how she looked, blaming the angles that the photos were taken from. However, she soon realised that maybe the angles weren’t to blame, so she joined Slimming World to try and lose the weight which had troubled her for so long.
Natalie shed six stone in just 11 months, and on her wedding day in June 2017 she felt incredible as she walked down the aisle in her size eight wedding gown.
“I no longer wanted to feel down and ashamed of myself. I went on holiday with my fiancé at the time, and on the flight home I realised I had deleted every image of myself because I didn’t like the angles. But then I had a pause and realised it might not be the angles,” she said.
“I started attending Slimming World and educating myself on healthier food choices and calorie intake. My wedding was a target, but also wanting to be a healthy mum for my child. I also wanted to do it for my own mental health.
“I cook my meals most nights now, adding a lot of the right things. I eat more fish and cut back on red meat, with the occasional vegetarian meal. I can still have treats, but now it’s in moderation and I consistently keep on plan during the week.
“For breakfast I have Greek yoghurt with honey or Weetabix and fruit. Lunch is a freshly prepared salad, then dinner is salmon with steamed vegetables and new potatoes usually. I try not to snack throughout the day, but if I do, I have fruit and I only have wine on a weekend.
“I am more confident in myself and have a positive outlook. I feel like a new person and have left the old me behind.
“I can go in any shop now and I don’t hesitate about wearing a bikini in crowded places. I have only happy memories of feeling like a princess in my wedding dress with all eyes on me for the right reasons, for a change. I didn’t delete any pictures, I kept them as happy memories.
“People think it’s fantastic and amazing, they have nothing but praise. When I went back to work after losing all my weight during maternity leave, people said I was unrecognisable. Everyone always asks how I have done it and for advice on what they can do.
“What I say is to make a food diary because when you write things down it’s easier to put into perspective and see what changes you need to make. Drink more water, move more and educate yourself on the right foods.
“It’s all about balance and if you eat right and stick to your plan, it will happen. Take measurements, sometimes you’ll lose inches but not pounds.”
To see more, visit https://www.instagram.com/natalies__sw/