Until last week Emma Davidson-Hasson had never worn a size 12. She never even dared go into certain city centre shops. “Shopping was about finding something which they had in my size which I didn’t hate,” the 29-year-old mum of three said.
“I’ve always carried excess weight. I just saw myself as the ‘fat girl’ - it was who I was. I would never have thought in a million years that I would ever have managed to shift my weight - and a year ago, if anyone had told me I would fit into a size 12, I wouldn’t have believed them.”
Although she said she was always aware of her weight problem it was a shocking family photo taken in Christmas 2009 which spurred her into action.
“I was horrified when I saw the picture. I couldn’t believe how big I had let myself become.” Wearing a dress size 22, Emma said not only did she feel unattractive, but also very unhealthy.
“My appearance was one issue but I was also concerned about my health and the health of my children. I am breast-feeding my youngest child, Darcy and wanted to make sure she thrived as much as possible so I wanted to make sure I was eating all the right things so that she would benefit from that.”
Braving the scales at WeightWatchers in January 2010, when Darcy was just two months old and her son, Ethan, was just 16 months old, Emma was shocked to learn she would need to lose more than five stone just to have a health BMI - and that she was looking at a goal weight of losing more than six stone. She lost 3.5lbs in her first week - but was frustrated when she stayed the same in her second week.
“The old me probably would have given up then but I decided to try something else and bought Wii Fit and gave that a go, while sticking to my Points allowance. The following week I lost 5lbs.”
From then on she said her weight loss was a steady one or two pounds a week, but she admits she had to completely change her lifestyle and her eating habits to fit with the programme.
“My old diet wasn’t necessarily too much food - but certainly all the wrong food. I ate lots of bread and cheese, had a chocolate bar every afternoon and, especially after Darcy was born - when I was just wrecked looking after three children, including two babies - we had got into a habit of ordering takeaways for dinner.
“I think it was a combination of tiredness, looking after the children and being pregnant which saw me reach my biggest and I realised I would have to radically change my lifestyle.”
Bizarrely Emma’s journey to lose weight has allowed her to develop a passion for cooking. “I cook almost everything from scratch now. I do whatever I can myself using fresh ingredients.
“I’ve found that meal planning has really helped - not just in budgeting for a family but also in keeping me on track with my eating.
“We introduced a lot of Asian food into our diet - because on WeightWatchers you can really fill up on vegetables, most of which have a Pro-Points value of zero and I’ve been surprised at how well the kids have taken to our new eating habits too.
“I never would have thought of serving a baby a salad, but our babies love it and they really enjoy stir fries.
“I love to bake too - but I’ll either adapt the recipes to make them more WeightWatchers friendly, or I’ll take a smaller portion or give what I bake to family and friends!”
Emma’s husband Niall has also benefited from her newly found cooking skills. “He has lost about two and a half stone, without even really trying,” Emma revealed.
Along with changing her eating habits, Emma said the biggest change has been introducing exercise into her routine. “I used to hate going out for walks with people. I’d always been the one dragging behind, asking them to slow down because I would get so breathless.
“When I started WeightWatchers I set about walking everywhere - over to town, around the Waterside, down on the beach in Buncrana - and now I’m the one people have to ask to slow down!
“It’s brilliant not to feel breathless any more and to be able to keep up, or lead the way.”
Emma has kept a track of her Non Scales Victories throughout her weight loss - one of her favourites being that people she has not seen for a while no longer recognise her.
“My best friend recently had a baby and I was her birthing partner.
“I was with her in the hospital when her daddy, who has known me since I was four, came in. He didn’t recognise me and introduced himself to me as if we had never met.
“The other big victory has been walking into clothes shops I would never even have dared go near before and trying on clothes because I like them. Fitting into a size 12 was unbelievable.
“I never thought I would lose the weight, if the truth be told. I thought I’d always be big and I probably used that as an excuse not to do anything about it - but I’ve done it and it feels great.
Emma’s nine-year-old daughter Abby said she was very proud of her mum. “Mummy has done really well and we are all really proud of her now.
“I think she looks even more pretty now than she did.”
Emma’s WeightWatchers class leader Betty Cairns said: “Emma starting losing weight with the old WeightWatchers plan before successfully switching to the new Pro-Points programme in January this year.
“She has been an excellent WeightWatcher throughout her journey, and continues to follow the programme to keep at her goal weight. It has been brilliant to see her transformation.”
Emma attends Betty’s WeightWatchers classes on Mondays at Oakgrove Primary School.
To find out more about WeightWatchers and to check class times visit www.weightwatchers.ie or phone 02890426812.
Emma has been blogging about her weight loss and her new cooking habits at http://eenymeenyme.blogspot.com/