From fat to fitness instructor

Zumba before and after

A mum who was so fat she could not even stand up long enough to do the washing up has become a professional fitness instructor now she has lost more than 11 STONE through diet and exercise.

Wendi Huggett, 40, once weighed 21st 1lb and wore size 34 clothing after severe postnatal depression led to a devastating cycle of inactivity and comfort eating.

Today, Mrs Huggett, of Llanelli, teaches five Zumba classes a week, having shrunk down to 9st 11lb and a slinky size eight.

She said: “I’m fitter and happier, and I’m much more capable of dealing with the challenges which life throws at me.

“I love teaching classes, and I get a huge amount of satisfaction at being able to provide a service for other women who are keen to become healthier.”

Mrs Huggett experienced crushing postnatal depression after the birth of her daughter Tierney, now 14, which led to her putting on seven stone in just three years.

She said: “I was so depressed I didn’t go out of the house unless I needed to take Tia to a doctor’s appointment.

“I also developed what I consider now to be an addiction to food. In the depths of depression I felt as if I couldn’t control anything – but I could control what I ate. So if I wanted to have a bar of chocolate or a round of toast to make me feel better, I didn’t hold back.”

As Mrs Huggett’s weight piled on, she began experiencing joint and back pain.

She said: “It became increasingly difficult to move around, which just fed into the cycle. After a while even something as simple as standing up long enough to finish washing the dishes was extremely difficult.

“On the rare occasions when I did venture out of the house, I felt as if I was under scrutiny. Little children would point at me and ask their parents why I was so large. When I went shopping, I was paranoid that people were peering into my shopping basket, looking for sweets and treats which would explain why I was so fat.”

As Tierney turned three, Mrs Huggett made the decision to lose weight for the sake of her daughter.

She said: “I couldn’t bare the thought of Tia being bullied in school. I been larger than average at school and had experienced some bullying. I didn’t want Tia to be made an object of fun because she had a fat mum.

“In the years since her birth I’d tried dieting, but had only managed to yo-yo my weight. I realised I could only make a lasting change if I overhauled my whole attitude to food.”

Newly determined, Mrs Huggett threw away all the fatty, sugar-filled snacks from her kitchen.

She once ate toast with butter and cheese for breakfast, with ham and coleslaw sandwiches for lunch, and creamy chicken pasta bake with garlic bread for an evening meal. She could finish a family-sized bar of milk chocolate while snacking through the day.

Her new diet regime, which she still maintains, had her eating porridge for breakfast, with a protein-focussed lunch such as chicken with salad, followed by an evening meal of brown rice with steamed vegetables and salmon.

Three months after beginning her diet she joined her local gym where she started doing cardio interval training.

She said: “I hated doing the gym at first, but doing a bit of running, followed by a bit of cross training and rowing, made it more varied and interesting.”

Seven months after changing her diet, Mrs Huggett had lost a massive eight stone.

She said: “A personal instructor at the gym liked to demonstrate how much I was losing by going into the weights room and coming out with the equivalent of what I’d lost between milestones. It was a huge motivator.

“I decided to investigate Zumba classes. I loved the energy and the music, but at one class the instructor was so bored and listless that I thought, ‘I could do better than this’.”

Mrs Huggett took a training course to become an official instructor and achieved her ambition by leading her first class in June 2011.

She said: “Being up there in front a class is a huge rush. I’m proud of my commitment towards the women in my classes. I’ll never let them down – even if there’s only three or four people in the class, I’ll never call a class off.

“I’ve struggled with depression over the years but now I feel calmer, emotionally. I had a tough year last year when I lost a close friend, but I’m a much happier person now and can cope with things better.

“Tia’s enormously proud of me, too. She looks at pictures of the old me and can’t quite believe it.

“I’m happy to say that she’s fitter and stronger than I was at her age. She’s very mindful of nutrition and loves kickboxing. It’s satisfying to see that she’s managed to avoid some of the traps I fell into at that age.”

More high resolution pictures are available on request. To discuss rates for using pictures and copy, contact news editor Tom Knight on 07815 004413 or tom@medavia.co.uk.

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