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Alyson Syms

Age: 36

Height: 160.7 cm

Start weight: 146.4 kg

Current weight: 68 kg

Total loss: 78.4 kg

“I wasn't obese all my life. I was a premature baby and my mum had had my stillborn brother the year before. Scared that she would lose me too, she listened to the doctors when she was told to feed me every hour to make sure I grew. I was still tiny as a toddler, but as I went through school, my weight crept up. I think mum linked feeding me to meaning I was healthy, but by my teenage years I was obese.

“I used to do Morris Dancing and, one year, the dressmaker was whispering about my measurements and the others turning and shaking their heads at me . . . that hurt. Another time we had to borrow dresses from another troupe and the biggest one was nowhere near my size. I remember the adults talking and tutting as they had to have panels put in the sides to make it big enough to fit me.

“In high school I was bullied horrendously. I was called names, pushed down the bus staircase and once I was thrown down on the school field and had grass shoved in my mouth. I learnt quickly to bottle up my feelings, pretending I didn't care. I got home where I sat and ate. Taking enjoyment out of food was the only pleasure in my life.

“My teenage years were hell. I never attended a school disco and dreaded non-uniform day. What do you wear when you’re 14 and an adult size 18? School uniforms, skirts with an elasticated band and school cardigans from adult shops as you were too big. PE? Yeah. I was the 'fat girl' left until last; team captains moaning when I was the only one left.

“I did once go to the fair with my friends. We got on the ride and the bar wouldn't come down . . . the guy had to jump on it to make it click. I was mortified and I ran home too ashamed to tell anybody why I never went to a theme park again.

“My first holiday abroad at 13 was spent in a swimming costume with a T-shirt over it as I was so embarrassed about how people would stare. Once, I was walking next to the pool and my foot went through the plastic drain grate around it. The plastic shattered and cut all my foot. I could hear people laughing, 'look what that fat girl did'. I didn’t leave my room again.

“I met my partner, Jim, in 2011.The following year we bought a house and got engaged. We both work long hours and have full custody of his son, so we slipped into a bad routine on fast food.

“I developed Type 2 diabetes in 2012, which the doctor told me was due to my size and lifestyle. I was put on meds, including injecting insulin three times a day and taking Novarapid and Metformin, but still my blood sugars were out of control. I was referred to the diabetic clinic in the women's unit at my local hospital. I longed for a baby, so it was so upsetting seeing other women all there for scans and me there to be told that I was putting my life at risk with my uncontrollable blood sugars.

“I did have an early miscarriage in 2012; the one thing I’d always wanted had been snatched away from me. The nurse told me that, with my HBAC levels, it was very unlikely my body would be able to carry a child. I knew then I needed to lose weight, but instead I told myself there was nothing I could do. So I tried to convince myself that was that and took comfort in food, as I would never have what I always dreamed of . . . my own child.

“Then something clicked. I was determined that everyone was going to look at me for the right reasons when I walked down that aisle. No way was I wedding dress shopping for a size 32 dress, I was going to be a perfect 12!

“One of my friends told me about Cambridge Weight Plan and I knew Consultant Sarah Smith already, so felt comfortable talking to her about my weight. She came in on a Sunday evening on her day off to see me. So, at 146.4 kg with Type 2 diabetes, I started my journey. Sarah's words were 'give me 12 months and we can change your life' and we did!

“The weeks flew by. People noticed within weeks and the compliments spurred me on. Every visit to the diabetic nurse saw a reduction in my medication, which is when I realised I was controlling my health, my health wasn't controlling me. 12 months later I had completely reversed my Type 2 diabetes and was discharged from the clinic . . . I cried with pride that night. I had to come off plan for a little while due to having an operation, so it took me until August 2017, but I got there . . . I hit my goal of 69.8 Kg. I was half the woman I used to be!

“It has been the most emotional rollercoaster of my life, but it has been worth all the tears and tantrums as I can now live the life I want to. When I walked down the aisle earlier this year in my size 12 wedding dress, all eyes were on me because I did it; I achieved my dream.

“Because of losing weight I've been paragliding, to water parks, I love theme parks and fast rides (currently working through all of them in the UK) and swam with dolphins . . . the list goes on. I do hope one day I do become a mum, but I know if not that I did everything in my power to try and make that dream become a reality.”

Rate: 18 months *The weight lost and/or timeframes are particular to this slimmer. Everyone’s weight loss journey is unique to them.

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