A yo-yo dieter has revealed how shedding six stone in less than a year left her mute for 10 months.
Terri Keith, 30, from Belfast, slimmed down from a size 16 to a size six in just 10 months – but the dramatic weight loss landed her in hopsital diagnosed with malnutrition.
The personal assistant was also left unable to speak for 10 months, which doctors said was due to the stress she had put on her body.
Terri Keith before she slimmed down in 2012 (left), and after she became a bodybuilding champion in August 2017 (right). Her transformation was hard going, however, and left her in hospital
‘My body started to shut down,’ she said. ‘I woke up one morning and my voice was completely gone.
‘Doctors did tests but there was no physical cause. I started speech therapy, but they put it down to the stress I had put my body and mind under, by losing weight so quickly. It was so frightening for me.’
The yo-yo dieter had been overweight for years, despite going back and forth to slimming clubs.
Then, four years ago, she became determined to battle her bulges for good, and joined a gym. She also hired a personal trainer, who helped her drop from 14 stone to 8 stone in just 10 months.
Terri was 14 stone before her weight loss (pictured left in 2010). She lost the weight dramatically and slimmed down to eight stone in a year (right) but became seriously ill with colitis due to the stress she had put on her body
Terri was left hospitalised by her dramatic weight loss after losing six stone in just 10 months
Terri Keith is now a champion bodybuilder who has won two competitions. However she is giving herself a one-year break from competitions so she doesn’t put as much stress on her body
But her dramatic weight loss landed her in the Royal Victoria hospital, Belfast, for two days with malnutrition and left her mute.
For 10 months, Terri communicated mainly by writing things down, as she built her speech back up, with the help of intensive speech therapy.
She explained: ‘I wasn’t eating properly for the amount of training I was doing and I started to lose my voice and my hair was falling out.
‘I went to A&E because I was worried what was happening. They told me that I was just putting my body under too much stress.
‘I couldn’t believe I was malnourished. I didn’t think that was the sort of thing that happened when you are dieting.’
Terri was left with health problems including colitis which left her with a swollen stomach. Some people thought she was nine months pregnant
Terri was hospitalised for two days with malnutrition in 2015 due to her dramatic weight loss
Terri was just eight stone at her skinniest (left), but her dramatic weight loss left her in hospital. She is now a healthier nine stone and a size six, and also a champion bodybuilder (right).
After leaving hospital after a two-day stay, but continuing to have tests and speech therapy, Terri realised her diet and fitness regime needed an overhaul.
She said: ‘I started learning about what to eat, hormone balances and changing my whole lifestyle. It’s not about quick fixes. It’s about the long-term.’
She returned to the gym seven months after she was hospitalised, and found a new coach, who taught her about having a balanced lifestyle.
Terri started to build muscle on her body, rather than just losing fat, but, unfortunately, she was still plagued by health problems.
‘I have always had stomach issues,’ she explained. ‘I was constantly going to the doctor, but I was told I had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which causes bloating and diarrhoea.
Terri before she lost the weight in 2013 (left), and in August this year after winning one of her bodybuilding championships (right)
Terri has now won two bodybuilding championships and has managed to keep the weight off in a healthy way
Terri with a swollen stomach back in 2015 (left) and in 2017, with her boyfriend Jonathan Elliott at the gym (right)
‘But when I started learning more about nutrition, I felt like it was more than that. It was getting worse and worse.
‘Even if I was drinking water, I would be passing blood. I was fainting and there was one point where I was in A&E 10 times in two weeks. I was so fit and healthy but this kept being a problem. ‘
In August 2015, Terri flew out with her family to Ibiza, but a few days into the holiday, she felt so unwell, she returned home.
‘My stomach was so swollen, people thought I was nine months pregnant,’ said Terri. ‘None of my clothes fitted any more.
‘I was given a sigmoidoscopy, at the Mater hospital, Belfast, where a camera was inserted into my colon, and they saw that I have ulcerative colitis – a long-term condition, where the colon and rectum become inflamed.
Terri’s stomach became so bloated after her dramatic weight loss that people thought she was pregnant (pictured in 2015)
Terri was in and out of hospital with serious stomach-related health problems in 2015 due to her dramatic weight loss
Now Terri is slim but more importantly healthy, and doesn’t have any more stomach-related health issues. However she is mindful to give her body a break when it needs it
‘I decided to go for private treatment – basically with medication – the next day, as I wanted to be treated quickly. I was hospitalised at the Ulster Independent Clinic for six weeks.
‘My colon was completely blocked up and my stomach was so distended, I couldn’t breathe properly, because my diaphragm was inside out.
‘It was the most traumatic time of my life. I was worried I wouldn’t make it out of hospital.’
When she was discharged in September 2015, Terri was told that she may never train again and may not be able to return to work.
But, determined, she researched diets and natural supplements that could help, as well as gradually increasing her activity levels.
Six months later, she returned to work and after another two months, she was able to go back to the gym.
Terri wanted to lose her weight for good (pictured in 2012, left) but her dramatic transformation left her in hospital. Now she has the physique she’s always wanted but has lost the weight and toned up in a healthy way (right)
Terri trains for two hours a day, six days a week, in the run-up to competitions but says she is giving her body a break for a year
She said: ‘I had put on some weight and I was out of shape. I was putting an empty bar on my back and my legs would collapse. At first, I thought maybe the doctors were right.
‘But I kept at it, little by little, and soon I was doing really well. I got a new coach, who really understood my condition, and helped me learn to do what I can.’
Terri did so well, that in January this year, she decided to start preparing to compete for the first time at the Irish muscle power bodybuilding competition in Belfast.
She said: ‘I wanted to compete because I wanted to speak out about my condition and show that it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.’
The competition was scheduled for August – giving her plenty of time to train without needing to crash diet.
She added: ‘Some girls do 12 weeks transformations and then when they introduce normal food again, their bodies can’t process it. I didn’t want to risk that.
From hospital to the bodybuilding stage: Terri was hospitalised after her dramatic weight loss (left). But now she has become healthy again and has trained up enough to win bodybuilding competitions (right)
Terri’s stomach was so swollen by her colitis that it looked as if she was pregnant (left). Though doctors said she may never be able to train again at the gym, she proved them wrong by training in a healthier way (pictured returning to the gym in 2016, right)
Now Terri is all muscle and actually weighs more than when she was at her slimmest before her hospitalisation but it is all muscle
‘When I was hospitalised the first time, I’d done it much too quickly. I was underfed and over-trained. My body didn’t know what was happening.
‘Now I knew I needed to do this completely different way. I didn’t want getting ready for the competition to have a permanent effect on my body. And I decided I wanted to stop other girls from going down the same path that I had.
‘Now, I train for two hours a day, six days a week but my health will always come first. I am a size six, but I weigh over nine stone these days I am more muscles than fat.’
To her amazement, Terri won the Irish bodybuilding trophy – competing again two weeks later at the regional finals of the UK Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation competition in Belfast and again taking home the crown.
She explained: ‘I wanted to prove that the doctors who told me that I might not step into a gym again were wrong.
‘I hadn’t planned to do the second competition, but I was still well and I was amazed to win it again.
‘I was invited to the British finals, but I decided not to go, because I didn’t want to put my body under too much stress.
‘I am now enjoying an off season and will compete again next year.’