A woman lost half of her body weight after being humiliated on a plane when she was unable to fasten her seatbelt.
Amanda Gorley, 47, ballooned after years of comfort eating which saw her tip the scales at almost 20st.
The accounts assistant, from Greater Manchester, was just a teenager when she began bingeing on packets of biscuits and huge dinner portions whenever she felt unsettled.
In December 2018, Amanda was flying to Berlin for a city break with her engineer husband Carl, 58, when she realised things had to change, reports Manchester Evening News.
Amanda, from Ashton-under-Lyne, said: “The belt just wouldn’t fasten. I was mortified. In that moment, I knew I wanted to change my life.
“Having to ask for that seat belt extender was the most embarrassed I’ve ever been. I vowed to my husband that I wouldn’t have to ask for it again. It was as if a switch flicked in my head. I’d had enough.”
At that time, Amanda weighed 19st 10lb and wore a 24 dress size with a body mass index (BMI) of 42.7 making her morbidly obese.
But after the mortifying flight, she swapped dinner feasts and chocolate binges for smaller meals and healthier fruit snacks and lost an astonishing 9st 5lbs.
She said: “I’ve lost the weight of an entire person, but for every stone I lost, my confidence grew and grew.”
Looking back on how her unhealthy relationship with food, Amanda told how her overeating began at the tender age of 14 and how she would turn to food whenever she felt stressed.
She said: “I was definitely a comfort eater. I chose to overeat. Food always made me feel better – or I thought it did. It’s a short-lived high though, before the guilt sets in about what you’ve eaten.”
Amanda met Carl, originally from Newcastle-On-Tyne, during a night out in Blackpool when she was 21 and the pair bought a home and got hitched in 2007.
Although she loved cooking from scratch in the evenings, she would gorge herself on a slab of chocolate or a packet of biscuits afterwards.
She said: “My portion sizes and snacking were a huge problem. A 100g bar of chocolate would be gone in no time and that would be a snack, but now I’ll draw the line at four pieces.”
As a yo-yo dieter, if Amanda did lose weight she normally regained it – and more.
Once home from Berlin, she discussed her diet plans with her colleagues when one, who wanted to lose a stone, suggested they could join the local branch of slimming club WW together.
She said: “I was so in the mindset of changing the way I was. I wanted to be more confident and do things and shop for clothes I actually wanted, and control my overeating issues – otherwise, where does it end?”
Amanda attended her first WW meeting in August 2019 and having lost 9st 5lbs, she now weighs 10st 5lb.
Her previous diet included toast or cereal for breakfast, prepackaged sandwiches for lunch and huge portions of spaghetti Bolognese and curries for dinner polished off with an entire packet of biscuits or a slab of chocolate.
Now she snacks on fruit for breakfast, chicken or tuna salad with fruit and veg for lunch and smaller portions of her favourite home-cooked meals for dinner.
Rather than gorging on an entire packet of biscuits or a slab of chocolate, she will settle for one or two pieces.
She said: “Losing weight has changed everything. I’ve more energy and confidence and I’ve rediscovered clothes and fashion and taking care of myself.”
Finding the WW approach to nutrition ‘really easy’, Amanda has been able to stick to a weight loss programme for the first time ever.
Losing weight consistently and attending regular weigh-ins and classes became her focus in the six months after she started slimming.
But she admits that she feared her bad habits would creep back in when Covid lockdowns started.
She said: “I did think ‘oh my God, this could be where it all goes off the rails.’ Instead, I continued with the same weigh-in day and logged it in the app. I kept everything as it was. The only thing I didn’t do was go to classes as we couldn’t.
She added: “The girl I went to WW with now weighs 9st 3lb – so I’ve basically lost more than she actually weighs.”
“We have a history of heart problems in my family and I really wanted to avoid those, too, and staying slim should help me.
“Compliments help, too. As people start to notice, it spurs you on. I didn’t set a goal weight until I was really near where I wanted to be. I just treated each stone as a goal.
“When you’re bigger, you don’t really care. You just want to hide and blend into the background and nobody notices you. Now I’m happy to go a bit bolder and stand out from the crowd.”
Amanda is even looking returning to Berlin, only now she can sit comfortably in her seat for take off.
“We love city breaks and the history and culture in Europe, so that’s where we tend to go, as we’re not sun worshippers.,” she said.
“I told my husband, as we’re thinking of going to Berlin at Christmas time again this year, that I can’t wait to be on the plane and see how much room I have under my seat belt this time.”