An obese woman lost an incredible nine stone in eight months after fearing her weight could mean she'd be more likely to die from COVID-19.
At her heaviest, Rachel Walkingshaw-McGuinness, 30, from Newport, Wales, weighed 19st 7lbs but was terrified that if she were to catch coronavirus. her size could mean her daughter, Poppy, one, may be left without a mother.
Determined to do something about it, in December 2020 the mum-of-one decided to overhaul her diet and has since lost almost half her body weight, dropping from a size 24 to a trim size 10 and weighing 10st 10lbs.
The turning point came one night when she was taking her daughter to bed and realised how out of breath she was from climbing the stars.
"I was terrified at the thought of catching the virus and dying," Walkingshaw-McGuinness explains.
“I didn’t want Poppy to end up with zero memories of me."
And when her husband Jamie, 35, caught the virus despite being on the shielding list, Walkingshaw-McGuinness knew it was time to do something about it and turned to The Cambridge Weight Plan 1:1 Diet, which substitutes large portion meals with shakes and healthy alternatives.
“I set myself a goal to lose nine stone and stayed on the plan during big events like my 30th and Poppy’s first birthday," she explains.
“I had no self-belief or confidence when I first started the plan, but my consultant was a cheerleader to me throughout and helped me celebrate each weight-loss milestone.
“My goal was to be able to watch Poppy grow up, to play with her, and run around with her in the park.
“It was sad that I tried to avoid mum and baby groups because I’d get out of breath trying to do the activities."
Walkingshaw-McGuinness says she saw her weight creep up after using food to cope with her grief following the loss of her mother Jacqueline Murphy, 53, in 2018.
“I’ve always been overweight, but when my mum died, I comfort ate a lot and used food as a way to quash my emotions," she explains.
Watch: James Corden credits entire life change for impressive weight loss.
At the time she estimates she was spending around £200 a week on food and takeaways.
“It was so easy to just go into McDonald’s for lunch whilst I was working," she says.
“I’d have a large Big Mac meal, mozzarella dippers, a mayo chicken burger and a full size McFlurry all to myself.
“And each night, I’d eat a full pack of chocolate digestives.”
Realising the potential consequences of her bad habits, Walkingshaw-McGuinness decided to take action.
As well as her new diet, the mum-of-one also embarked on a new fitness plan.
“I started off small by getting out of the house and going on small walks around the block as I was too embarrassed to go the gym," she explains.
And now that she has reached her goal weight, Walkingshaw-McGuinness is more active than ever.
“I’ve now taken up running and yoga, something which I never would have done when I was at my heaviest.
“I’m actually also training up to do the ‘Couch To 5k’ challenge."
As well as boosting her self-esteem and body confidence, her incredible weight loss has helped her scoop the Cambridge Weight Plan’s Woman Of The Year award.
“I love my new body and the confidence I’ve gained from shedding the weight," she adds.
“I never thought I’d be able to sit on the swings with my little girl.
“In every aspect of my life, who I am now is completely different to how I used to feel.”
Breakfast: Four crumpets with butter and jam
Lunch: Carbonara pasta, or other large dish, with big side such as garlic bread
Dinner: Takeaway, three bars of chocolate, full size bag of Haribo, whole pack of biscuits, packet of crisps.
Breakfast: Vanilla shake with a shot of coffee and protein yoghurt with berries.
Lunch: Fish cake and salad or a chicken salad.
Dinner: Low carb meal: fish with chargrilled vegetables, or roast dinner, or Quorn nuggets with vegetables and rice.
Additional reporting Caters.