A Sussex teenager has lost almost 10 stone after shunning weight loss surgery in favour of healthy eating – because she was too scared to go under the knife.
At age 15, Isabelle Kennedy, from Bexhill, was told by doctors she was facing an early grave. But the teen, who weighed 20st 11lbs, was so determined not to go under the knife she joined Slimming World, changed her diet and shed 9st 8lbs.
Isabelle, who has been named Slimming World’s Young Slimmer of the Year, has even reversed a form of liver disease which she had been diagnosed with because of her weight.
Now 18 and weighing a svelte 11st 3lbs, Isabelle said: “During secondary school I was diagnosed with a form of liver disease and the doctors informed me that it was linked to obesity and losing weight would help.
“Weight loss surgery was never an option for me, so I joined Slimming World and I haven’t looked back since.
“I’ve now reversed the effects of the liver disease and have been discharged from hospital, which is an amazing feeling and my doctors are really pleased with me.”
The 5ft 10in teen had started gaining weight from the age of four, and mum Su had desperately contacted their GP and dietitians about her daughter’s ballooning waistline.
Unfortunately, nothing they tried seemed to work and Isabelle gained more and more weight.
During her time at secondary school she gained around 8st as she increasingly turned to food for comfort, and would stock up on unhealthy snacks from the local shop on her way home from school.
Isabelle’s weight also led to embarrassing experiences, including once getting stuck on a water slide.
After being diagnosed with liver disease and facing the prospect of surgery, in October 2014 she was inspired to give Slimming World a try by her mum, who had recently become a member of a local group.
Isabelle added: “After a few weeks of seeing the types of food she could eat and how she was losing weight, I decided to give it a go.
“With the diets I’d tried before, I hated the feeling of being deprived, but with Slimming World I never feel hungry or deprived because you can fill up on lots of foods until you’re satisfied.
“My mum’s lost 5st now too – so we’ve lost more than 14st between us.
“One of my favourite Slimming World meals is BBQ pulled pork, I love being able to prepare it quickly before college in the morning, leave it in the slow cooker all day and then come home to a delicious dinner.
“The biggest thing for me to overcome was stopping the emotional eating though, which meant finding other ways of coping – now I find going for a long walk with my dog Millie or a run after college is a great way to relax after a stressful day.
“It’s crazy as I used to dread any kind of activity because I’d worry what I looked like and got out of breath, but not anymore.”
Isabelle, who has dropped from a size 22/24 to a size 10/12, says her weight loss has also boosted her attendance and confidence at college. She hopes to go to university to study psychology this autumn.
Isabelle said: “I honestly feel that without having lost the weight, I wouldn’t have even thought about going to university as I wouldn’t have believed in myself enough.
“I used to feel self-conscious about talking to people because I thought they’d be secretly judging me for being so big.
“After losing the weight and being discharged from hospital, I feel full of self-confidence and like I’ll be able to meet new friends at university and enter the world of work when the time comes.
“While I absolutely know it works for some people, I don’t think I’d have had the same sense of achievement if I’d lost weight thanks to surgery and I’m so glad I did this myself.
“I hit my target weight in February this year and I’ve maintained my weight loss for five months now, even during my exams, so I’m definitely confident I’ve discovered healthy habits that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
“Being named Young Slimmer of the Year is a brilliant bonus too.”