A size 32 woman who ‘became a hermit’ after gorging on 5,000 calories a day has managed to lose nearly 12 stone.
Steph Sykes, 24, from Billingham, County Durham explained how her weight ballooned to 25st 5lb after ‘eating non-stop’ for two years when her dad Alan died suddenly on Father’s Day.
Her mother Karen persuaded her to join a slimming class with her, which saw Steph swap her junk food diet for healthy eating and exercise.
Steph now weighs 13st 6lb and is a size 14, after losing a staggering 11st 13lb – and says she still can’t believe it’s her when she looks in the mirror.
Steph Sykes, 24, from Billingham, County Durham (pictured at size 30) explained how her weight ballooned to 25st 5lb after ‘eating non-stop’ for two years when her dad Alan died suddenly on Father’s Day
Steph (pictured after her weight loss) has managed to lose nearly 12 stone – after her mother persuaded her to join a diet plan
Speaking about her transformation, Steph, an administrative assistant, said: ‘I feel so different. Now, when I look in the mirror, I can’t believe it’s me.
‘When I was a size 32, I could only get my clothes from one place online and I’d only leave the house to go to my mum’s, where I’d also lie on the sofa.’
While admitting she was always very overweight, Steph said her relationship with food became really toxic after her father Alan died suddenly of an aortic aneurysm – a dangerous swelling of the major blood vessel – on Father’s Day in 2015, aged just 56.
Steph said: ‘I was on holiday in Spain with my ex and had sent dad a message that morning, thanking him for how much he had done for me over the years and called him the best dad ever.
Steph (pictured after her weight loss) managed to lose the staggering amount by swapping her junk food diet for healthy eating and exercise
Steph (pictured two months into her weight loss programme) explained how she managed to stick to a diet plan for the first time, and began eating proper meals
‘But that night, around 10pm, I got the biggest shock when my mum called saying he’d died. It was such a shock and I felt broken.
‘I was always big. My mum was large and so was my dad, and all I’d really known myself as was a size 22.
‘Dad’s death was when I really started eating on my feelings, though, and my weight became out of control.’
Steph, who was not working at the time, described how she began ‘eating all the time’, barely leaving the house she shared with her now ex.
She only left her bedroom to go to the bathroom, or to the kitchen for more food – gorging on crisps, biscuits, sweets and takeaways like pizza, curries and ready meals.
Steph (pictured with her father Alan) said her relationship with food became really toxic after her father Alan died suddenly on Father’s Day in 2015, aged just 56
Steph described how her mother Karen (right) managed to persuade her to join their local Slimming World class with her
Steph (pictured after her weight loss, left and right) is now 13st 6lb and a size 14 – and says she still can’t believe it’s her when she looks in the mirror
‘I became a hermit. I was bored and unhappy and didn’t care what I looked like any more,’ she said.
‘Life didn’t really feel worth living to me, so I thought, “Who cares that I’m so big?”
‘My boyfriend didn’t seem to mind that I was letting myself get so large, so I kept eating and eating, only really going from my bed, to the kitchen to the sofa and the bathroom, apart from once a week, when I went to mum’s house, five minutes away, where I’d just lie on the sofa, too.’
But, Steph’s sedentary lifestyle – sleeping until 2pm, then gorging in front of Netflix – became a real concern to her mother Karen.
Desperate to help, Karen joined their local Slimming World class in April 2017, hoping Steph might follow.
Steph (pictured at size 32) described how she’s ‘always been big’, but said her weight began to spiral out of control following the death of her father
Steph (pictured before her weight loss) described how she would gorge on crisps, biscuits, sweets and takeaways like pizza, curries and ready meals
Steph (pictured before her weight loss) described how she became ‘bored and unhappy and didn’t care what I looked like any more’ as she saw her weight balloon
Her gamble paid off when, impressed by her mum’s weight loss and surprised by the meals she could still eat on the programme, a month later, Steph joined her for her first class.
Finally sticking to a diet plan and eating proper meals, she began having a yoghurt and two brunch bars for breakfast, salad for lunch and pasta with a fresh sauce for dinner – meaning her excess weight started falling off.
By October last year, newly-single after her relationship stopped working, Steph had already lost three stone.
Now, 19 months after she first joined Slimming World, Steph is unrecognisable, after losing almost 12 stone.
‘I feel like a completely different person,’ she said. ‘I can actually buy clothes in high street shops now and when I look in the mirror, I can’t believe it’s me.’
Administrative assistant Steph (pictured after her weight loss) says she ‘feels so different’ following her incredible weight loss
Steph (pictured after her weight loss) has been sharing her weight loss photos on Instagram to help others
Steph (pictured after her transformation) described how she is finally able to buy clothes from the High Street again
But her tremendous weight loss has left her a stone of unsightly excess skin around her body, which she is now desperate to shed.
Steph said: ‘Through my hard work and determination I know I have achieved so much in my weight loss, but now I want to feel as amazing as I know I deserve to,’ she explained.
‘It’s everywhere, on my tummy, under my arms, my legs, my back. I’ve done all the hard work, but now I need to get rid of this skin to feel my transformation is complete.’
An abdominoplasty, or tummy-tuck, is seen as cosmetic surgery, which is not normally available on the NHS, so Steph is fundraising on GoFundMe to help meet the surgery costs.
Steph, who shares her weight loss photos on Instagram to help others, said: ‘I want to be able to date again, and not have to explain why I have all this excess skin, it’s the one last thing left in my massive change.
Following her weight loss, Steph has been left with a stone of excess skin (above) around her body, which she is now desperate to shed
Steph (pictured after her weight loss) has had to buy a whole new wardrobe since her weight loss. She is pictured here modelling the size 32 clothes she used to wear
However, Steph is now raising money so she can fund a tummy-tuck surgery to get rid of the excess skin
‘As well as the tummy tuck and bum lift, I need a boob job because I have so much excess skin there, as well as an arm lift too.’
Commenting on her daughter’s weight loss, her mother Karen said: ‘At her biggest, I was frightened for Steph.
‘I am overweight myself and we are a big family, but Steph was taking it to the next level.
‘She was getting bigger and bigger and I knew it was not going to end well.
‘I am so proud of Steph, but now she just needs this final bit of help. She has earned whatever help she can get next.’
Steph’s mother Karen explained how she became increasingly worried about her daughter’s sedentary lifestyle before her weight loss. Steph is pictured two months into her weight loss programme
Steph (pictured before her weight loss) described how she began ‘eating all the time’ following the death of her father
Steph (pictured after her weight loss with a pair of size 32 jeans) said she now wants to be able to date again following her transformation