A woman who lost 12 stone after crying over a photo of herself at a party has shown off her amazing transformation.
Laura Neil, 32, weighed 22 stone 8 lbs after she piled on the pounds following her father’s tragic death.
After a photo of her at an engagement party was published on Facebook, she was left mortified and decided to do something about her weight.
One of the first changes she made in her nutrition was ditching her daily takeaways for healthier, home-cooked food.
Now Laura is 10st 5lb and is happy to pose for pictures on nights out as she can wear glam outfits.
She dropped eight dress sizes from 26 down to a slimline size 10.
Laura, a student midwife, said: “I saw a picture of myself and I burst out crying.
“I never looked at myself. A family member took the pictured and uploaded it to Facebook.
“I felt I looked really shocking, I had to do something about it.”
Consumed by grief at the loss of her dad in 2010, Laura found comfort in junk food and became a recluse.
She would regularly skip breakfast and binge on crips and chocolate throughout the day before ordering a takeaway for dinner, rarely cooking food for herself.
She added: “I’d always been quite heavy as a child, but I lost my dad to cancer at 21 and on five stone in a year.
“At my heaviest, I weighed 22 stone 8lbs.
“I was depressed from losing my dad. It was very sudden, we were told he had longer left than he lived for.
“I was just eating a lot of junk food and takeaways, I didn’t often eat a normal meal that I had cooked myself.”
But Laura, of Falkirk, Scotland, desperately wanted to be a mum and knew she had to lose weight when she realised how big she had gotten.
As well as being embarrassed by the picture, taken during a pal during a party at the picturesque Wallace Monument in Stirling, doctors said her weight could affect her fertility.
If she wanted to be fit enough to have kids – and then run around after them – she knew she needed to ditch the junk food and radically overhaul her diet.
She began researching healthier ways of preparing food and began using the Pinch of Nom recipe book to cook meals from scratch.
A year into her weight loss journey, weighing 14st 2lbs, she fell pregnant with her only daughter Esme, now five.
Laura put two stones back on during her pregnancy, but she lost more than six stones between giving birth in 2016 and 2019.
She added: “I had to lose weight to start a family as doctors told me it might affect my chances of getting pregnant.
“I had ups and downs, but I was determined to get back at it. I wanted to get to my goal.
“I would use Pinch of Nom recipes and hand cook my dinners. I’d use Fry Light instead of cooking oil and all fresh ingredients rather than sauces from jars.”
When she got to 16 stone, Laura joined weight-loss programme Scottish Slimmers, where she followed their diet and stripped the last few stones.
Laura, who is engaged to fiance Garry McAllister, said her new figure has given her more confidence and allows her to be a good mum to her daughter.
She added: “It has been life-changing, I’m much more confident, I was very depressed before.
“I wouldn’t go out with my friends because I was so embarrassed by my size and worried that people were staring at me.
“Now I can go out and socialise, I would never have taken a picture of myself before, but now I don’t mind it.
“I wouldn’t be able to be as active as a mum and do the things parents would do with their kids if I didn’t lose the weight.
“I take my daughter swimming and I would never have put myself in a bathing suit before.
“My friends are always saying they can’t believe the change in me. Some people don’t even recognise me if they haven’t seen me for a while.”
Laura’s diet before
Breakfast: Full fry up
Lunch: Laura would skip lunch
Dinner: Takeaway at around 7 or 8pm
Snacks: Crisps and chocolate
Laura’s diet now
Breakfast: Poached eggs, bacon medallions cooked using Fry Light.
Lunch: Salad or a baked potato
Dinner: Homecooked healthier options such as Lasagne.