‘We went back to the office and no one recognised us’: How these workmates lost 9 stone in lockdown


Lockdown was the spur for workmates Jo Barber and Diane Massey to lose almost nine stone in weight – and now they’re back at their office for the first time in a year colleagues are stunned.

The friends and super-slimmers both work at The Seashell Trust charity in Cheadle Hulme, a school that supports children with complex learning needs.

Now, with lockdown restrictions easing, the women have been returning to the office and seeing some colleagues for the first time in a year – who are now applauding their healthy transformations.

Diane, 59, from Hazel Grove, has lost almost 5 stone, while Jo, 46, from Pendlebury, has lost 4 stone exactly.

slimmers Jo Barber Diane Massey
Diane Massey and Jo Barber pictured before lockdown (left) and now after losing 9 stone between them (right)

Both ladies lost weight through diet, exercise and willpower – using free fitness Apps on their mobile phones to track their daily calories and exercise.

Diane, a mum of two, said: “When I came into the office and saw people who hadn’t been in for six months, one lady said she didn’t even know who I was! That sort of thing it just gives you a little boost.

“Jo and I had always been the ones who would shrink away from photos at the charity events we have, we would always hide away.

“Every year in January we’d say ‘this time we’re going to lose weight for our summer ball’ and finally, it’s taken lockdown, but we’ve done it.”

Jo Barber and Diane Massey have lost nine stone between them in lockdown

Jo, also a mum of two, added: “It’s funny because I’ve not really seen anybody because of lockdown, and now people have gone from seeing me the size I was then, to seeing me now.

“Every time I bump into someone they’re like ‘oh my god’ but it’s nice, it’s a really big confidence boost.”

Now the ladies are back at work at the Seashell Trust to organise the charity’s next big fundraising event – an online dress auction featuring a range of celebrity clothes and designer pieces where the public can make bids from April 23rd.

Here Jo and Diane share their stories of how and why they wanted to lose weight over the past year.

“My health was my motivation”

Diane Massey before and after her 4st 12lb lockdown weightloss

Being diagnosed with gallstones during the first lockdown in April 2020 was the wake-up call for Diane Massey that her diet had to change.

Administrator Diane says: “I was suffering terrible stomach ache and an MRI scan confirmed it was gallstones. I’m still waiting for surgery but my GP told me what I should and shouldn’t be eating to lessen the pain. Basically it meant stripping fatty foods out of my diet.

“It made me really start to look at what I was eating – and now when I’m in the supermarket I use the traffic light system on packaging to see which foods are red for high fat and avoid anything like that – that’s a really good tip if you’re trying to lose weight.”

Diane, who has two daughters and three grandchildren, also bought a fitbit fitness tracker and downloaded the accompanying app so that she could track all of her calories and exercise every day.

She said: “I got the app and added my details which gives you a daily calorie allowance. I add everything on my phone every night – it’s become a habit and it keeps track so that if you do more exercise you can eat a bit more. It has really helped .”

Regular walks during lockdown also helped boost Diane’s weightloss, and she loved finding new routes and footpaths near where she lives in Hazel Grove to take her 9-year-old grandson Ethan.

And now Diane is at her lowest weight since her wedding day to husband Paul, 61, back in 1983.

Diane says: “I’ve had to buy a whole new wardrobe and Paul says I look great. I’ve not been 9 stone since I got married over 35 years ago!

“I feel tonnes better I have so much more energy and the aches and pains you start to get as you get older have gradually been getting better.”

Age: 59

Height: 5′ 6″

Weight before: 14stone 1lbs; Dress size: 16

Weight after: 9 stone 3lbs; Dress size: 10/12

Diet before:

Breakfast – toast with butter or cheese spread

Lunch – cheese sandwich and crisps

Dinner – Fried steak and chips or homemade pie

Snacks – cheese and crisps – I’d eat three bags a day sometimes, or the worst was cheese and onion crisps with Cheshire cheese on top

Diet after:

Breakfast – banana or fat free yoghurt with berries

Lunch – lean meat sandwich with no spread or ham and mushroom omelette with no cheese

Dinner – Salmon or other fish with veg and potatoes or chicken stir fry no fat in the pan.

Snacks – fruit and the occasional glass of wine

“Lockdown gave me the time to find myself again”

The first lockdown in March 2020 was a chance for event fundraiser Jo Barber, 46, to find more balance in her life.

The mum-of-two from Pendlebury says: “With no commute and no school drop off I felt like I had more me time. My 13-year-old son is a runner but all of his sessions stopped in lockdown. I thought if I could learn to run, he could run with me. So I gave the Couch to 5k a go – I downloaded the app and away I went.

“When I started to realise I was losing weight as well I thought this was the time to really go for it. I downloaded another app, My Fitness Pal – which ties in exercise and diet and tells you how many calories you’re burning for your height and weight.

“I’d been wanting to lose weight for years, every year we hold our big fundraising Strictly Seashell ball, and every year you’d see everyone coming in looking gorgeous and I’d be feeling like a big fat frump carrying the boxes around.

“Every year I’d say next year I’m not going to be this fat.

“But when you’re on the hamster wheel of commuting and kid stuff you never find time for yourself. I was fed up with the way I looked and the way clothes fit.

“I started in earnest in May and by October I’d lost four stone, and then I plateaued over the winter.

“Now that the weather is nicer I’ve got a push to lose another stone.”

Jo Barber before and after 4 stone weight loss

Jo says getting fit has been a huge positive for her from lockdown – and now she can run 5k in under 30 minutes.

“I really thought I couldn’t do the running I honestly thought I was going to die, I was so unfit. But running has been brilliant for me and the sense of achievement of doing a 5k in 29 minutes was great.”

Age: 46

Height: 5′ 4″

Weight before: 14stone 7lbs; Dress size: 20

Weight after: 10stone 7lbs; Dress size: 12

Diet before:

Breakfast – toast and butter to eat in the car

Lunch – sandwich and crisps, then lots of biscuits and treats in the office

Dinner – Big roast or carb-heavy pasta dishes

Snacks – cheese and glass of wine at night

Diet after:

Breakfast – cereal or fat free Greek yoghurt with fruit

Lunch – Ryvita with cheese spread and fruit or cheese omelette

Dinner – hearty family meal cooked in a leaner way – like lean spaghetti bolognese or chilli and sweetcorn potato cakes with salad

Snacks – fruit and I still have a glass of wine when I know I’ve saved enough calories through the day





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