A mum has told her inspirational story of how she overcame some of life’s toughest battles to shed ten stone.
Amanda Heath suffered a host of health problems which began when she contracted life-threatening meningitis.
The 44-year-old, who lives in Well near Alford, Lincolnshire, defied the odds to survive, but in her bid to recover, developed epilepsy where her seizures were so severe that at times the mum says she couldn’t move.
The lack of mobility saw her weight balloon and at her heaviest she was just under 21 stone.
She then developed an addiction to painkillers after an injury sustained when she was a teenager flared up.
But despite her battles, Amanda was determined to tackle her weight and managed to beat her addiction and lose 10 stone.
Amanda Heath, 44, from Well near Alford in Lincolnshire, was a healthy weight until she contracted multiple life-threatening illnesses that left her bed bound
Amanda was a healthy weight when she contracted life-threatening meningitis.
‘I was working in a hospital as a care support worker when I collapsed,’ she said. ‘They believe I got it from a patient,’ she recalled.
‘At one point doctors told my parents to go home because they didn’t think I was going to make it through the night – they were confused how I survived.
‘From my meningitis, I developed epilepsy and would regularly have seizures. ‘This was the start of my weight gain as it slows my metabolism right down and at times I couldn’t move.
‘I was sent to hospital where surgeons considered taking out a part of my brain.
‘In the end the surgery didn’t happen and I started moving better and losing weight but it wasn’t considerable.’
Amanda found herself in the grip of addiction to morphine and painkillers and became completely reliant on them
Just when Amanda thought she was over the worst of it, her recovery was halted as in 2009 she suffered a stroke.
‘The stroke left the whole left side of my body numb,’ she said: ‘I was in a hospital bed for six to eight weeks and had to use a wheelchair for the best part of year to 18 months.’
She joined a gym as part of her rehabilitation where she met her now-husband, James.
But another setback was in store. After regaining full movement, Amanda began suffering with serious back problems as a result of slipped discs from a car crash in her teenage years.
At her heaviest, Amanda was 21 stone. Before her illnesses she was a normal weight
To cope with the pain she became dependent on morphine and her weight ballooned as a result. ‘I was addicted to morphine and a whole concoction of painkillers,’ she said.
‘Each day was a blessed failure and I did my best to enjoy it. ‘I was reliant on medication and addicted to morphine. I felt liked a vegetated failure and I needed to take charge of my own flesh.’
In April 2015, Amanda, who before her illness had been a healthy weight, went cold-turkey – a decision she admits terrified her.
‘It was scary,’ she said. ‘I remember we were stuck in snow on the way back from cinema and I had left the house without morphine.
‘I got scared but I didn’t want my life to be controlled by drugs anymore.’ After taking seven months for her body to completely withdraw, Amanda and her partner signed up for a gym to mark the start a new beginning.
Despite her large size, she says she was determined to get fit and healthy.
‘Living without medication was hard as my body was so addicted to it,’ she said. ‘It was hard to function without it. ‘At the beginning of going to the gym I could only manage five minutes of exercise and would be sick and pass out, but at the time, entering the gym was a an achievement in itself.
She is now on her way to become a personal trainer so she can share her story and prove weight-loss is possible
‘I was thankful for the support of my husband, my friends and my family who kept me motivated and soon those five minutes became one-two hour sessions.’
And now the petite brunette is unrecognisable as she weighs under 10 stone but admits that she has pictures of her former self posted all over the gym to act as a constant motivation to keep going.
‘I now weigh 70kg,’ she said, citing bodybuilders as her inspiration for her dramatic weight loss. ‘I want to keep on sculpting – it’s not just about weight loss anymore, it is about body image and feeling good.’
Amanda has now completed a radical transformation and is even training to be a personal trainer. She hopes others will be inspired to make a change by reading her story.
‘I want my story to help others,’ she said. ‘I want to show others it can be done. ‘I want to thank Phoenix for helping me become a personal trainer and also want to encourage others to get a vision and commit to achieving that. ‘If they do that then all things are possible.’