A woman lost FOUR stone in excess weight which she had put on in the aftermath of a divorce – and found new love with her fitness instructor along the way.
Tina Lessiter, 38, a community care worker of Barnstaple, Devon, became overweight and unhappy after the breakdown of her seven-year-long marriage in 2006.
Her weight rose to nearly 18st as she fell into habits of eating junk and convenience food as a quick fix to make her feel better.
Miss Lessiter was introduced to personal trainer Gemma Mullinger, 26, when she joined a gym for the first time last summer.
After Miss Mullinger helped her lose weight in classes, the pair began a social relationship, fell in love, and are now planning a future together.
Miss Lessiter said: “If you’d given me a crystal ball a year ago, I still couldn’t have predicted how my life would turn out. I don’t regret a thing – I’m incredibly happy.”
Miss Lessiter, who had struggled with weight gain since childhood, decided to seek out a personal trainer after years of unhealthy habits left her unenergetic and unmotivated.
She said: “I’ve always been big. I can’t remember a time when my weight didn’t fluctuate. When I split from my husband in 2006, things rather spun out of control. I’d happily eat an extra-large bar of Galaxy chocolate all to myself.”
By June 2013, Miss Lessiter weight 17st 10lbs and wore size 20 clothing.
She said: “My brother-in-law Sam handed me a leaflet for a local ladies-only gym. I reasoned that I’d been sitting around doing nothing for too long – so I decided to take the plunge and give it a go.
“I found being in a room surrounded by so many fit people quite intimidating – luckily Gemma, who led the classes, was really welcoming.
“I really admired the way she carried herself. She stood out, and lit up the room. I thought that if I tried really hard, I could one day look as good as she did.”
Miss Lessiter began attending the gym up to six nights a week, and found herself bonding ever closer with Miss Mullinger.
She said: “We both loved food, so Gemma was able to help me make the switch over from the unhealthy, fattening food I was eating to a diet plan, tailored just for me.”
Before beginning her weight loss journey, Ms Lessiter typically ate croissants for breakfast, followed by thick white bread with cheese and ham with a chocolate bar for lunch, and an Indian takeaway with naan and rice for her evening meal. She would snack on savoury snacks like pasties during the day.
Today, she often eats smoked haddock with poached eggs and fruit and vegetable juice for breakfast, followed by leftover home-made pork and vegetable curry for lunch, with fresh seafood pasta for her evening meal. When she snacks she enjoys fruit, nuts and seeds.
Miss Lessiter said: “We were also able to bond over our shared experiences with internet dating. We didn’t realise it at first but we enjoyed each other’s company far more than anyone we met on the dating scene.
“I thought of her as a great mate and it hadn’t crossed my mind to be with someone of the same sex. We went on a night out together as friends and by the end of the evening we were a couple.
“We were both really happy when we realised it was what we both wanted.
“My weight loss is down to healthy eating, natural food and home-made juices, regulated exercise and keeping active. I don’t watch TV anymore – we prefer to spend time away in our campervan, enjoying the countryside, walking and spending time with our family and friends.
“It’s been a wonderful year together and we’re stronger than ever and we’ve talked about getting married one day.”
Miss Lessiter, who now weighs 13st 10lb and can fit into size 14 dresses, is supporting her partner as she launched her own health and fitness business entitled Naturally Slim.
Miss Mullinger said: “I opened the studio at the end of June and since then things have got busier and busier. I’m passionate about making making people become more health aware and helping them lose weight, but not through fad diets and flimsy, processed low-fat foods.
“I’m really proud of the journey that Tina has been on. I would love her whatever she looked like, but having been through a similar journey myself before I became a personal trainer, I know how tough it can be to make that turnaround.
“I’d never thought of being with another woman until I met Tina, and neither had she, so it took us by surprise.
“We’re both amazed at how happy we are together – every day is wonderful.”
For more information on Miss Mullinger’s business visit www.naturallyslimhealthandfitness.co.uk.
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