‘I lost 8 stone after struggling to change my baby’s nappy’

lost 8 stone after couldn't change baby's nappy

by take-a-break |
Updated on

When Nikki couldn’t change her baby without being left in agony, she had to take action…

Lost 8 stone in weight

Wincing, I struggled to the floor, my two-month-old son, Bjorn, in my arms.

‘Argh,’ I cried.

The pain in my hips was agony.

By the time I’d managed to lay Bjorn on his changing mat, he wasn’t the only one in tears.

My crippling arthritis wasn’t helped by my 21-stone bulk.

In fact, the combination of inflammation in my joints and my size made every day a struggle.

I’d always been big.

At Mum and Dad’s wedding, when I was 18 months old, I wore a dress meant for a four-year-old.

By nine, I was being bullied at school because of my size.

Aged 16, I bought a dress from Evans — in a size 34.

Although my frame had got me picked on and did make me feel uncomfortable, I’d always just accepted that I was big.

After all, it was all I knew.

It was only a year on, aged 17, that I saw some photos of myself at a gig and realised just how big I was.

‘Oh my goodness,’ I said, looking at the images in horror.

'Something has to change'

That started a 10-year cycle of dieting and losing weight, only to pile it all back on again.

You name a diet, I tried it.

At one point, I dropped 10 stone in a single year by going to the gym every day — and only allowing myself to eat the number of calories the cardio machines said I’d burnt off.

‘You don’t look well, love,’ Mum said, worried, as I got paler and weaker in front of her eyes.

Of course, starving myself wasn’t sustainable long term, and I’d soon put everything I’d lost back on — and then some.

When I met my partner, Mick, on Tinder, he didn’t bat an eyelid at my size.

‘You always look perfect to me,’ he told me.

It was around the same time that I got injured at work in a school for kids with special needs, and an MRI scan revealed the arthritis in my hips.

Lost eight stone in weight

After that, whenever I tried to get active in a bid to get in shape, the arthritis would flare up and stop me.

By the time Bjorn was born five years later, I was a dress size 22-24 and 20 stone.

I’d gained even more in the weeks after his birth and now, two months on, I was at rock bottom.

It wasn’t just getting down to change Bjorn’s nappies that hurt.

Walking was painful.

Getting in and out of the car was difficult.

Just standing up often left me in agony.

'I'm not going to give up'

Even sitting on the sofa was hard because my hips hurt when I sat down.

Before, Mick and I had enjoyed going camping or heading to gigs, but that was feeling increasingly impossible.

Struggling back to my feet from changing Bjorn, I took a deep breath.

‘Something has to change,’ I said.

I was sick of feeling self-conscious about my size when I was out and about.

I wanted to feel good in clothes and to be able to run around the garden with Bjorn as he grew.

I definitely didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in pain.

I had a wonderful partner and two gorgeous children — Bjorn, plus my eldest daughter, Cherry, 12.

Lost 8 stone in weight

My life was brilliant — and I wanted to enjoy it!

I decided to go back on a meal replacement plan called Exante, which I’d previously lost a stone on.

‘This time, I’m not going to give up,’ I told Mick.

I’d be cutting my calorie intake from about 5000 calories a day to just 800.

But I liked the fact Exante had a big variety of products, from shakes and bars to porridge and meal pots.

Taking food off the table — literally — felt like what I needed.

Even so, the first month was hard.

I’d always enjoyed large portions and where before I’d have four slices of buttered toast for breakfast — all with lashings of peanut butter — now I only had a protein shake or a porridge pot.

I lost eight stone in weight

My usual lunch of leftover takeaway curry or bolognese became another shake or a bar.

I’d have a pasta pot for dinner and my only snack was another bar with a cuppa before bed.

At first, I constantly felt hungry.

I was a natural snacker and even my hands missed reaching for cake, crisps, biscuits or bread to pop into my mouth!

Visiting family at the weekends was tough, too, as eating and drinking was always a factor in our get-togethers.

But whenever I wavered, I’d remember how much pain I was in.

And, for the first time in my life, something clicked.

Now, I'm happier than ever

It helped that I was on maternity leave, so I could really focus on changing my lifestyle.

On average, I dropped a stone each month and, four stone in, movement started getting easier.

By the time of Bjorn’s first birthday, I’d lost seven-and-a-half stone, weighing in at 12-and-a-half stone — fine for my 5ft 6in height — and a dress size 12-14.

It was the smallest I’d been in years.

Not wanting to go too far, I began to carefully add real food back into my diet.

But I swapped my old chocolate bars for protein bars, keeping an emergency one in my handbag.

I also kept the fridge stocked with healthier snacks like boiled eggs, meat and fruit.

I'm half the woman I was!

I began cooking balanced meals such as marinated chicken, rice and veg from scratch, weighing out my pasta rather than piling my plate high, and padding sauces with loads of veg.

My old lunches of doorstep cheese sandwiches and crisps became turkey or chicken salads.

For the first time after losing weight, I was actually keeping it off.

With the excess weight gone, I made other changes too, swapping my very full-on job in social care for a part-time role, which gave me more time with Cherry and Bjorn.

I also returned to hairdressing on the side, having trained in my early 20s.

Nowadays, I really am enjoying my life, just as I hoped.

We go out for walks as a family and I’ve got so much more energy.

The kids eat more healthily, too, as I know better. I don’t want them to have the same problems I had growing up.

I used to feel I had to get really dressed up just to look nice.

I love that now I can go out in leggings and a hoodie and feel confident and comfortable.

Mick’s noticed how much happier I am, too.

Sometimes other people who are where I used to be tell me ‘I just can’t do it’.

I tell them, anyone can achieve anything they want to — but you have to put the work in.

What I’ve learnt, at last, is that the work never stops.

It’s not just about changing what you eat. It’s about changing what you think and what you do.

If you’re reading this and trying to make changes yourself, keep going!

Remember why you started.

There are going to be peaks and troughs, and the journey to a healthier size may not be a straight line, but that’s OK.

If I can do it, so can you!

Nikki Bailey, 37, Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire

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