A daughter who put on weight after the sudden death of her mother has now lost an incredible five stone by overhauling her diet and hitting the gym.
Lobke Meulemeester, 34, began to comfort eat around 5,000 calories per day after her mother, Midheline, died from blood poisoning in 2013.
Meulemeester’s weight increased to the extent that at her heaviest, she couldn’t even tie her own shoelaces because her belly would prevent her from bending over.
But now, Meulemeester has lost the weight that she put on and says she feels “so much happier”.
Meulemeester found solace in food and regularly ate crisps, pizza and cake, making her weight rise to almost 17 stone.
“My mum’s death really took a toll on me. I just stopped caring,” she said.
“I forgot about exercise. I just went to work every day and came straight home.
“Because I was getting bigger I was getting lazier every day. I got stuck in a rut.”
Meulemeester, who has been married to her husband Tom Gill, 39, for five years, moved from Belgium to the UK in 2010.
As a child, she constantly battled with her weight.
In the past, she’d tried various diets in an attempt to slim down – but the most she ever lost was around three stone, which she then piled back on.
“I’m a proper yo-yo dieter,” she said. “I’ve tried everything to help me lose weight but nothing worked.
“When my mum passed away I was 11 stone and I just binge ate.
“I was eating 5,000 calories a day and not doing any exercise.
“I was terrible. I would eat sandwiches, crisps, cake and a full fat coke for lunch.
“At night, I would come home and have pizza with garlic bread and a multi-pack of crisps.
“There would be six or eight bags and I’d eat them all then have chocolate, cookies and sweets.”
Meulemeester, a translator from Torquay, Devon, admitted that she knew how “ridiculous” the amount she was eating was, but felt unable to stop.
She continued: “I’d feel bad and think, ‘I need to stop doing this.’
“But I would wake up the next morning, forget about it and I’d do it all over again.
“I was stuck in a rut. Eating made me unhappy – but the only thing that made me happy was eating.”
Eventually, the binge-eating took a toll and she reached 16 stone 9.6 pounds – a large size 18.
She even had to sleep on her back instead of her side, as the weight of her fat put pressure on her lungs.
She said: “When I couldn’t breathe properly it started to worry me a bit.
“I’m borderline diabetic as well.
“I thought to myself that all I have to do is work hard for a couple of years and I can finally be the weight I want to be and look the way I want to look.
“Something just clicked in my head.”
In March 2015, Meulemeester joined Weightwatchers and started to walk for 90 minutes a day.
Soon, the weight began to fall off and she lost three pounds a week.
Instead of pizza and cake, she switched to chicken, vegetables and lean sandwiches.
She also joined the gym, and signed up for weights classes.
Meulemeester does not chastise herself when she had a bad day or skips a workout – which she says is the secret to her success.
“I normally have a treat night once a week. There are times I don’t feel like going to the gym and I order a pizza. I don’t feel guilty about it because I know there’s always tomorrow,” she said.
Now she has slimmed down to 11stone 12lbs – the weight she was before her mother died – and feels better than ever.
She said: “I feel like a different person. I’m so much happier and I’ve got way more energy.
“I smile, laugh and sing at work. I wake up in the morning and I don’t feel depressed and I don’t mind what the day brings.”