An inspirational Nelson mum of three, who was so overweight she could not even walk up the stairs of her own home, has just completed the Race for Life after shedding an incredible 15 stone.
Now super-slimmer Mandy Owen plans to qualify as a fitness instructor and personal trainer to help others who are battling major weight problems.
“I was able to turn my life around and want to help other people see they can do it, too. I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams I could have taken part in an event like Race for Life a couple of years ago,” said Mandy (48), who went from tipping the scales at 28 stone three-and-a-half-pounds to a svelte 13 stone.
Mandy’s battle to lose weight began in 2011 when she watched her best friend, a diabetes sufferer, die after she had her leg amputated.
Mandy, who lives in Thursby Road with her husband Chris, said: “It made me realise I had a choice to either live or die, it really was that drastic. Overeating is a form of self abuse and I was eating myself to death.”
Courageous Mandy left her home for the first time in several years to sign up for a Slimming World class in Barrowford. And she credits class leader Janet Barnes and fellow slimmers for their constant support and encouragement that has helped her achieve success.
Overeating is a form of self abuse and I was eating myself to deathMandy Owen
She said: “I feel there is a lack of support from the medical profession for morbidly obese people and the encouragement I received came from my family and other slimmers.”
Bullied as a child for being overweight, Mandy had tried various diets over the years but all had failed. A back injury forced her to give up work in 2004 and she spent the next seven years at home comfort eating her way to piling on 11 stone.
Mandy, mum to 22-year-old Megan, Samantha (17) and 14-year-old Aimee, told the Leader: “I lived on takeaways and ate a lot of chocolate. I never went anywhere because I found it difficult to walk and I became very depressed.
“I could not even manage the stairs and if I tried to sleep in my bed I woke up several times a night choking.”
After shedding her first couple of stone Mandy started exercising and is now a gym regular.
Her eating habits have changed drastically and she is a barbering student at Blackburn College.
She said: “I eat a good variety of healthy food and there are certain foods, such as chocolate, that I have cut out completely.
“It is simply not worth it because it would be so easy to slip back into old ways. But I don’t feel deprived and I now have my life back and want to help others to see they can do the same.”