A mother-of-two lost a massive 12 stone in weight after being embarrassed by photos taken when she was her sister’s maid of honour.
Sharon Osawe, 34, of Sleaford, Lincolnshire, ballooned to size 34 partly due to an addiction to fizzy drinks which saw her consume up to 18 litres of cherryade a week.
Facing mounting obesity-related health problems Ms Osawe decided to seek help after being humiliated by pictures of her in a drab, extra-large grey suit she was forced to wear as maid of honour at her sister Julie’s wedding.
She was approved for a gastric band operation on the NHS and went on to slim down to the 13 stone, size 14 she is today.
She said: “I was so upset when I tried to fit into my bridesmaid’s suit that I actually cried. I’d ordered three suits, and two of them wouldn’t get over my thighs. It was humiliating.
“Now that I’ve lost the weight I feel so much happier. I know I’ll never go back to the way I was.”
Ms Osawe, who has struggled with weight gain since her adolescent years, felt as if her eating habits were out of control by the time she gave birth to her son Austyn, now five.
She said: “I used the pregnancy to make excuses to overeat and after Austyn arrived I found myself reaching for convenience food before anything else.
“I would go all day without eating a thing, then eat quick and easy, high-fat foods and stodgy bread all evening.
“My biggest downfall was definitely cherryade. I drank at least two litres of it a day. I got a sugar rush from it – it was quite addictive.”
By the time her sister Julie, 32, announced she was getting married in 2009, Ms Osawe weighed 25 stone and wore size 34 clothing.
She said: “I was thrilled when Julie asked me to be maid of honour. It took me hours to find an outfit which was in any way suitable, and even then I was very unsatisfied with it.
“Julie looked amazing as we drove to the church, but I felt as if I stuck out like a sore thumb in my huge suit. There were two other bridesmaids, but there were able to wear beautiful purple dresses.
“My sister and I are close and it should have been one of my proudest moments, but it felt terrible.”
It was only when the photos of Julie’s big day came back that Ms Osawe realised how far she had let herself go.
She said: “The suit looked even worse on me than I’d thought. My face looked like it had been blown up with an air pump.
“I’d told myself I’d been trying my best to lose weight through fad diets but I realised I’d been in denial until that moment, and I knew that something needed to change. “
Ms Osawe was given a three-month subsidised gym membership after she appealed for help from her GP.
She said: “I was so big that progress was painfully slow. I found it really hard to stay motivated, especially while I focussed most of my efforts on Austyn.
“I was starting to suffer from health problems including the onset of diabetes and osteoporosis in my knees, so I applied for a gastric band.”
Ms Osawe finally underwent the operation in January 2012 at The Royal Derby hospital
She said: “I was nervous before the surgery but once I had gone through with it, things seemed to fall into place.
“I lost around a stone a month. The results were even better than I expected.”
Before the operation Ms Osawe typically ate nothing for breakfast or lunch, followed by two steak and kidney pies with a large plate of chips or fish and chips with four rounds of bread and butter for her evening meal. She would snack on up to six packets of ready salted crisps or a packet of chocolate digestive biscuits throughout the day, washed down with at least two litres of cherryade.
Today, she typically eats toast with marmalade for breakfast, followed by a small cheese sandwich for lunch, and beef stew with rice for evening meal. She tends not to snack.
Shortly after her operation she met her current partner Kingsley Osawe, 31, a field engineer, with whom she would have a son, Jamayne, born in November 2013. She has since officially changed her surname to his.
She said: “I put on around a stone during my pregnancy but as soon as I’d given birth the weight came off really easily again, so I never felt as out of control as I did before.
“I felt better equipped to be able to deal with the challenge of looking after my children and a new relationship because I wasn’t so overweight. It was as if I was a completely new person.
“It feels amazing to be able to fit into size 14 clothes now. I used to hate shopping because there were very few shops which sold clothes big enough for me. Now I can shop anywhere I want.”
Ms Osawe and her partner are now planning to marry in 2015.
She said: “I can’t wait to wear a wedding outfit which actually suits me.”
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