By Aimee Braniff Cree


MEET the brave mother-of-two who piled on the pounds as “suicide by food” after surviving being raped by a gang of feral men – but now has the upper hand and has lost SEVENTEEN stone in just over a year.

Personal trainer and nutritionist Andreina De Sousa (36), from Twickenham, West London better known as Reina once weighed 27 stone after turning to food to help her recover from a brutal sexual assault by four men, but after being bullied daily over her weight, with the help of gastric sleeve surgery and her dedication to weight lifting, she has lost an incredible 17-stone.

She was a UK dress size 26 and is now a slim size 8 and as a devout gym bunny she can deadlift 105kg. Her bench press is 60kg, and can hip thrust 130kg.

Reina did not struggle with her weight growing up and it was not until a traumatic event occurred that she lost control of her eating habits.

Reina was sexually assaulted by a group of men. In order to deal with this trauma she hid away and turned to food for comfort, she was ashamed and felt like the rape had somehow been her fault. She says she was eating as a form of suicide.

“Fast foods were my Kryptonite, takeaways mostly fried or Chinese, the smell of Indian food still triggers me to this day so I stay clear of it as the rape was done by Punjabi men,” said Reina.

“I ate snacks like slider foods, crips cookies, pastries you name it I would scoff it all down.”

Reina reached a dangerous 27 stone and doctors told her if she continued with this lifestyle she would not be around to watch her two children grow up, this was the inspiration Reina needed to change her ways.

Reina before her weight loss trying on fitness gear.

She knew her eating habits were out of control and because she had not been overweight before she felt she needed some assistance to lose the weight. She decided on a gastric sleeve to help her to control her binge eating.

The surgery was difficult for Reina, she had to travel to the Czech Republic alone and she had quite severe reactions to the medications they gave her. She was also separated from her support network of family and friends for 16 days during one of the most trying periods of her life but now she would say it was all worth it to have achieved her weight loss.

Reina now lives a completely different life, she is on a calorie deficit diet, she trains at the gym five to seven times a week for. She is fit, healthy and confident and is now using what she has learned to help others.

“I wasn’t always fat, I was curvy and a Zumba instructor as-well-as teaching pilates. I did fitness classes for the NHS called Weigh to Lose I also worked for immigration. I was fit and healthy,” said Andreina.

“But I was raped in 2014. Not by one man, but by many. And I turned to food for emotional support because at that same time I was raped I became homeless and my kids were taken from me.

 “I had no time to sit there and reflect on my emotions because everything was happening all at once, and due to blocking things out I became cold, I became a version of me I never want back.

“I turned to food for support, because I could mask it as a form of suicide, the more ate the fatter I got the more I didn’t recognise the woman staring back at me in the mirror.

“I was content with that because I always thought I got raped because of the way looked, I thought it was my fault.”

“I was raped in Southall, West London, to this day I don’t set foot there, they weren’t brought to justice because of fear that it would happen to my daughter and my mother and harm caused to those I love,” said Reina.

Reina is now a size 8.

“I went to the police with a friend from work and they did nothing. I explained the story from beginning to end and nothing was done. That’s when it got harder for me, it just goes to show how screwed up the system is in the UK.

“I met some women in this community who have also suffered similar if not worse things than I did. Security measures to protect us women are so awful in the UK and outside it makes you scared to be a woman. You can’t even feel safe in your own home let alone walking in the streets.”

It took six years for Reina to heal from this traumatic event.

Reina was born and raised in Venezuela, she moved to the UK in 1996 with her mother, father and four siblings.

She now has two children of her own, a daughter, Jessica, born in Venezuela in 2007 with a man who wanted nothing to do with their daughter. When Reina told him she was pregnant he left her and said she should raise that “rat”.

She has a son, Alex, born in the UK in 2010 with a different man. Alex sees his dad regularly but Reina and Alex’s father are no longer together.

“All of it was settled in court  and even though he put me through hell I would never stop him from raising his son,” said Reina.

“The issues were between me and him, not me, him and our son. He plays a huge part in Alex’s life and I’m happy with that, I would never stop him from seeing Alex.”

Reina was able to try to move on with her life and eventually was able to start a new relationship six years after she was raped.

“Fast forward a few years I got into a serious relationship, and he was the man that helped break free from the darkness I lived in,” she said.

“We aren’t together anymore because through the years we were together he cheated, and this made me lose so much confidence in myself.

“But I got over it. I fought for myself, my health and my kids every single day – I focused on me.

“Now I do not let trauma and fear control my every move, I strive from my past. I see success from my trauma experience. I am a better person today.

“This is all mostly thanks to my sister Linda she has been my rock, my teacher, my inspiration, my emotional support through every step in my life it’s almost hard to believe she’s my little sister because I look up to her every single day she inspires me to be a better version of myself.

On July 13th 2021 Reina got gastric sleeve surgery at the Ivy Clinic in Brno Czech Republic. The procedure including flights and accommodation cost her £7,000 but Reina insists, the surgery saved her life so was more than worth it.

“I had gastric sleeve surgery on July 13th 2021 in Czech Republic for a clinic called Ivy Health (Surgical Clinic),” said Reina.

She was left with some loose skin after her weight loss.

“On the day of the surgery, I let fear take over me I thought the worst case scenarios that I was never going to wake up or that I’ll enter into a coma and never see my kids or family again or that my heart would stop. The fact that I was in a foreign country by myself made it even worse.

“We were still mid-pandemic so I had to leave for 16 days as quarantine was ten-days.

“When I had all my pre-op checks, I knew things were getting real and slowly that version of me that got raped started to crawl back into my head I started to think no I can’t do this.

“But with every force in my being I pushed those thoughts out and replaced them with my kids.

“I wanted to live longer for them. I wanted to be able to do so many activities with them that I could never do as a bigger person. I could take walks with them and play with them.

“Once I had the operation and came around the pain was out of this world. I had the worst reaction to omeprazole and DVT injections and the only thing that played in my head was why did I do this? I’m going to fail at it like I have everything else.

“This weightless journey has not only been just for my body but it has been for my mind too, the clarity I have gotten the mental peace and stability is a breath of fresh air.

“I learned that I am a go-getter, I am a badass that when I set my mind and time into something, it can be done.”

Before her surgery Reina was weighing in at 27 stone and day-to-day tasks were a struggle.

“I was struggling to even climb stairs, my GP told me my weight was a danger to my health and I needed to change that if I wanted to be around for my kids,” she said.

“I chose to have a gastric sleeve because it’s a one step procedure so there are lower risks of complications.

“The recovery time is faster than the full bypass and there are fewer issues with absorbing nutrients and vitamins.”

Before her sleeve Reina received a lot of hurtful comments regarding her size.

“I was called fat nearly every day, people told me I was ugly all because of my weight. I was told not to wear certain clothes because it looked awful on me,” she said.

“People said I shouldn’t wear things that show off my body, I had low confidence and I believed them so I hid behind cardigans layers and layers of clothes they made me look bigger than what I was.

 “I used to hate summer because of that I would wear coverups to the beach – now you can’t get me to put layers on at all I show off my hard work everywhere.”

Although Reina has mastered her confidence people still try to put her down about her amazing transformation.

“It’s a mixture really, there is love, hate and envy in every comment I get,” said Reina.

“I am really glad when people say I look better no, that I look beautiful or that I am an inspiration to others.

“Sometimes jealousy creeps in and people tell me I look anorexic now or I should have stayed fat.

“I get called the queen of body morphing, some of my favourites are that I look like Vanessa Hudgins or that my body looks insanely good for 17 stone weight loss with minimal loose skin.

“I get messaged a lot on Instagram saying I am an inspiration to others and that lights a fire in my soul.

“I am proof that muscle gain is possible after weight loss surgery, that I am an inspiration to many women who have lost hope with loose skin. That I have never been this well built before.”

Reina loves her new body and she has her sister Linda to thank for it too, she got Reina into weight training after her surgery.

“My sister Linda is by far the best personal trainer I have ever known,” she said.

“Linda and her husband’s lifestyle got me into weightlifting, she is the real queen of body morphing and I am learning so much from her as I go on.

“I have my body physique because of her training and her knowledge and teachings.

“She’s a tell it like it is person and I love that there is no filter when it comes to her as that is what we need when we go through our journey we want the truth despite how harsh it is we need it to keep pushing forward.

“She taught me discipline and with that came respect for lifestyle and motivation.

“When I am at the gym and I am lifting weights I feel free. I feel like nothing else around me matters, when I grab that barbell and feel the cold steel against my palms I get motivated to build a better me.

“The gym has become a home to me and a place I will always feel safe in.”

Reina has shattered all of her goals in the gym, her current deadlift is 105kg, her bench press is 60kg but her most impressive goal that she has achieved is her hip thrust of 130kg.

“I can probably go higher. I’m just scared, it’s weird how scary lifting heavy can actually be,” she said.

“I show off my body whenever I’m given the chance, I flex my hard earned muscles all the time.

“My arms and my back were so flabby before, now they are all muscle and I think that is an inspiration to others that if you put in the work you don’t need to have as much skin removal surgery.”

It is truly remarkable that Reina has taken herself from a size 26 to a size 8 and she has this message for anyone who is struggling with their body image.

“Focus on yourself one small achievement at a time,” she said,

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on the old but on building the new you.

“Have the discipline to do what you know should be done even when you don’t feel like doing it.

“Most importantly it’s not about perfection its about effort and when you bring that effort every single day that’s where transformation happens.”

Reina now works as a nutritionist and personal trainer and she is getting glowing reviews in her professional life too.

“I have a review from one of my followers turned friend whom I am helping achieve the same results: ‘Reina is a powerhouse, she has turned her health completely around and inspires everyone so much, since joining her PT program four weeks ago I’ve lost 11kg and have a new found love for the gym. She is hilarious and honest which is a rarity on social media. What you see is what you get, she’s supportive, pushes you to achieve the same dream she has, and is the biggest cheerleader of our journey. Honestly she’s a life saver not only in her own life but ours also.’

Reina’s family also cannot believe the change in her and making them proud is one of the many benefits of her new lifestyle.

“My family are so shocked with my results I asked them what they thought recently, my mother has said she has never met anyone with as much willpower as me,” she said.

“We have an aunt who had the same surgery and only lost a bit of weight and regained so I think they were thinking this was not the right move I made and I like to think I proved my point that when there is passion and dedication you can achieve your dreams.

“My sister Linda is the proudest, and in awe of the way I have built my body to what it is now, she always believed I could do it just not in the time I did.

“She hopes I continue to build this life style and continue to inspire others like I have been.

“She says it’s not very easy to come from a place where I came from with all the trauma and overcame it and facing my fears head on to get to where I am now is a really massive achievement.

“My followers are also a huge support system for me. They hype me up, they were there through the start of my journey through my break up and through my transformation it’s almost like they are my virtual family and I am forever thankful to have them in my life.”