By Scott Thompson

THIS WOMAN took out a loan for EIGHTEEN THOUSAND POUNDS to get BREAST IMPLANTS and remove the EXCESS SKIN that losing FOURTEEN STONE had left her with – and says it pushed her to join TINDER, where she met the LOVE OF HER LIFE.

Production technician, Stephanie Joy Sykes (25) from Billingham, UK had already been struggling with her weight at a dress size 22 and when her father passed away in 2015 she ballooned to a dress size 32 and weighed a whopping 25st 5lb.

Stephanie has struggled with autism, anxiety, depression, low self-worth and grief which all lead to her eating for comfort where ice cream, chocolate bars, pizzas and super portions of pastas were the daily norm.

Stephanie was always scared of sitting in chairs in case they collapsed under her weight. MDWfeatures / Stephanie Sykes

Her weight meant she suffered with sciatica and a bad back, and her weight almost immobilised her as she was forced to use two walking sticks. Stephanie was always worried about sitting in seats, she needed a belt extender when flying, she couldn’t fit on rides and couldn’t move much without pain.

Lacking self-worth, Stephanie stayed in a toxic relationship that she wasn’t happy in because she didn’t feel she deserved anything better.

Being morbidly obese, Stephanie had to endure many insults from the public including ‘I’m surprised the Earth isn’t shaking’ which a stranger shouted at her whilst she walked past them.

Stephanie said she had so little self-worth before her weight loss that she allowed herself to stay in a toxic relationship. MDWfeatures / Stephanie Sykes

In 2017 Stephanie decided enough was enough and she joined Slimming World where she went on to lose 14 stone in just under two years. She now weighs a much lighter 11st 7lb.

“In 2015 my father suddenly passed away which was very difficult for me. I was already a dress size 22 and after that I really started to gain weight as I climbed up to a size 32,” Stephanie said.

“I suffer from anxiety, depression, low self-worth and grief. I also have dyslexia and dyspraxia and was recently diagnosed with autism so I think a mixture of those things had a big impact on how I dealt with emotions which is why I turned to eating for comfort.

People said mean things to Stpehanie everytime she went out and it made her anxious to leave home. MDWfeatures / Stephanie Sykes

“I don’t know how many calories a day I was eating but it was a lot. For breakfast I’d have Nutella on toast then snack on a few chocolate bars, lunch would be something like a microwave Mac n’ Cheese, then I’d snack again on crisps and chocolates with milkshake and ice cream with Oreos and Bailey’s. For dinner I’d have a large pasta bake with lots of full fat cheese and hot dogs or pizza. I’d finish my day off with ice cream or more chocolate for supper.

“I suffered a lot with sciatica and a bad back, there were a few points where I couldn’t move without using two walking sticks and screaming and crying in agony. I’d also be out of breath walking up the stairs. I felt so restricted. I felt like I couldn’t sit on a chair without it breaking, on planes I was so embarrassed to ask for the seat belt extender, I couldn’t fit on rides in Florida and I couldn’t make any big range of movements without crippling pain setting in.

“Once I walked past someone and they called out ‘I’m surprised the Earth isn’t shaking’ another time people chucked chocolate at me in a park and yelled ‘eat that fatty’. Everywhere I went people were always shouting horrible things about me in public and it made me scared to go anywhere.

Stephanie never used to exercise beyond walking her dog and now exnjoys a range of activities. MDWfeatures / Stephanie Sykes

“I was in a really toxic relationship as well and when I think about my ex now I realise that my self-value was so low it didn’t matter how badly he treated me I always stayed with him.

“But, eventually it started to wear thin and I finally took a stand. I knew my mother and twin sister had been to Slimming World before and I joined. It was hard to attend at first, but I pushed myself to go and within two years I brought my weight right down and now I’m 11st 7lb and a dress size 10.

“Now I usually have about 1,200 calories. For breakfast I’ll have honey Cheerios with a banana and skimmed milk, lunch is a naked noodle with an apple or banana, dinner is a stir fry or pasta or slimming world meal, for dessert I’d have more fruit or a Muller Light.”

Stephanie is unrecognisable to how she used to look. MDWfeatures / Stephanie Sykes

Stephanie’s huge transformation was met with a large amount of excess skin which she had to take out a £18,000 loan to have it removed over several surgeries in 2019.

She adds that losing weight has completely changed her life as she is much happier now. She even ditched her ex and starting using dating apps where she found the love of her life.

“I had so much excess skin after all my weight loss. I decided to go privately to have it removed last year. In February 2019 I had a fleur de lis abdominoplasty and 360 lower body lift. This was to remove skin on my tummy and around my trunk. Also, in June 2019 I had an arm lift, 360 upper body lift and breast implants. This was to remove excess skin from my arms and upper body and the breast implants were below the muscle and 600CC. I took out a loan for these which came to £18,000 in total. I pay these back monthly.” Stephanie continued.

This is the effect of losing large amounts of weight in a short period. MDWfeatures / Stephanie Sykes

“This journey has completely changed my life. I now see a positive future. I know I can do anything I want to. My weight isn’t holding me back anymore. I can’t even describe how it’s changed my life. I ditched my toxic ex and I got myself back into dating where I found the love of my life Luke on Tinder in July 2019. He treats me the way I deserve to be treated and he’s so proud of me.

“I didn’t have a job and I didn’t drive before and I’ve now held my current job for two and a half years and got my own car.

Stephanie looking gorgeous after £18,000 of skin removal and fourteen stone of weight loss. MDWfeatures / Stephanie Sykes

“When starting out, the hardest thing is taking that first step into a Slimming World group. It’s at that point when you’re telling yourself ‘enough is enough’ and accepting that is hard. Once you make it that’s the changing point for you. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you. You will go up and you’ll go down but keep going, keeping taking those small steps to a better you because every little step will contribute to your weight loss journey.”

You can follow Stephanie’s journey on Instagram