When Jenny Irons weighed over 27 stone she found the world a “very lonely place” – but now, at an enviable 10 stone 5lb, she cannot wait to find someone to share it with.
The carer says: “I’m much more confident now, I don’t hide behind big baggy clothes any more and I’d love to start dating after Covid.”
Not only that, the 46-year-old is Slimming World’s Woman of the Year, which she calls “the cherry on the cake… or the fruit salad.”
Jenny says she only signed up to the weight loss group in September 2018 to provide moral support to her sister, Jackie. At the time she weighed 27st 5lb and was a size 34.
She says: “I had absolutely no intention of getting involved. I was just trying to be a good sister, but months later I realised my sister had actually been joining to help me all along.
“I never thought I’d be here, 17 stone lighter. I have to pinch myself.”
Food had become a comfort after her marriage break-up, redundancy and having to sell her home.
As the weight piled on, Jenny, of Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, who is 5ft 9in, hid from the world and suffered health problems, including chest and foot pain and regular headaches.
“The depression kicked in, I was in a really bad place – the only thing that made me feel better was food.
“I’d go to the supermarket at 10pm or 5am so no one would see me, I wouldn’t make eye contact with anyone and I hid my body in baggy clothes. It was a very lonely place.”
When she did go out, Jenny had embarrassing experiences such as being unable to fit into a pub chair.
No diet had worked until Slimming World’s Food Optimising.
She said: “You can still enjoy all your favourite meals like spaghetti bolognese or curry, just cooked in a different way.”
The weight fell off. After losing about 6st, Jenny was confident enough to start exercising.
She used to only walk from her car to work but can now walk for miles.
“If I don’t go for a walk, I start getting itchy feet – I’m the new Forrest Gump! I’ve joined a gym too.”
Even lockdown did not hamper Jenny’s weightloss dreams.
Weekly Zoom sessions with her consultant, Carole, and fellow members, meant she hit her target.
Jenny said: “My BMI has gone from 54 to 22. I just can’t stop smiling.”