It’s the time of year when we are all trying to lose the pounds. Jayne Dawson reports on a mum and daughter who have transformed their lives by each shedding eight stones.
Most of us will now be counting the cost of the past few weeks on our bathroom scales - but mum and daughter Katie Frear and Gillian Stilgoe are not sharing our January misery.
Because over the last year the pair have each lost eight stones and are beginning 2014 unrecognisable from the women they once were.
Both have halved their clothes size and now fit into a 12 after years of having to buy size 24 outfits.
Student nurse Katie, 26, has dropped from almost 21st to just over 12 stones and lost a massive 20 inches from around her waist and ten inches from each thigh. Meanwhile, her mum Gillian, 51, has shrunk from over eighteen stones to 11 stones.
The two, who live in Cleckheaton, now look so different that friends and relatives have walked by without recognising them.
Their weight loss has not come cheap and it has cost them thousands of pounds to achieve their new figures - but they say the price was worth it.
They followed the Alizonne Diet, run by practising GP and diet expert Dr Mark Palmer at his clinic in Rothwell, Leeds.
The diet, which uses protein-based meal replacements combined with treatments to tighten loose skin as the weight comes off, cost the two a total of around £10,000.
Gillian, a single mum who brought her two children up alone, used the cash from an endowment mortgage to pay for the diet.
She said: “I could have saved the money for my retirement but I wanted us both to have a life now, it was the best decision I ever made and absolutely worth every penny.”
Gillian, who is one of 15 children, decided enough was enough last New Year.
She said: “My weight was caused by a combination of things, I think. I grew up on a diet of stodge because there wasn’t a lot of money around because there were so many of us.
“I am the youngest and my mum died when I was six so my dad just carried on as best he could, trying to do things like my mum used to do.
“I remember we used to have meat and potato pies and my brother would say that if you found the piece of meat you should just eat it quickly and quietly.
“But in recent years Katie and I had both tried diet after diet but they just were not working.”
Gillian began gaining weight in her teens. She married at 20, had two children and her weight gain continued. In her thirties she suffered hormonal and gynaecological problems and the medication increased her appetite, pushing her weight up further.
“I was eating too much of the wrong things. I carried on eating the stodge I was brought up on.
My job didn’t help because I always felt too busy to eat during the day so I would over -compensate at night.”
On a typical day Gillian would get up at 5am and eat toast for breakfast, then travel to work at 6am taking her lunch with her.
But because she was so busy she would not eat it, instead wolfing it down in the car on the way home. That would be quickly followed by her evening meal, and then she would carry on with chocolate and crisps throughout the evening.
All that changed on the Alizonne diet which gradually reintroduces food after a period on meal replacements.
Gillian said: “We have both lost our sweet tooth now, we are just not tempted anymore. The weight just fell off both of us and that motivated us to continue.”
Gillian met up with her family for a meal once she had lost all her weight, which was lost over several months.
She said. “We don’t get together all that often so they hadn’t seen me while I was losing the weight. They had all been a bit concerned about my size, so when they saw me they couldn’t believe it, they just hugged me.
“ I am still in shock. I would never have a full-length mirror in the house before but now I have one on the landing and when I catch sight of myself I look alright.
Gillian, who has been single since her divorce 20 years ago, is now also thinking her future could include a partner.
She said: “ I always thought that no-one would want to go out with somebody fat and frumpy like me but now I think differently, I could see myself with a partner now.”
Gillian also felt guilty about Katie’s weight: “I thought it was my fault, that she had learned bad habits from me.”
Katie said: “I was eating stodge like my mum, and eating portions that were too big.”
Her weight loss has increased her confidence massively. The last time she wore a dress was when she was aged eight - after that she hid herself in leggings and big tops - but now she is buying dresses and high heels.
“My clothes style was basically anything that covered me up.”
After gaining a degree in animal behaviour Katie has also switched careers and is now studying for a nursing degree.
“I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do that before,” she said.
As a bonus for her weight loss, Katie was recently fitted for her nurse’s uniform and fitted into a size 12.
It was a big change from when mum Gillian was measured for her uniform at the beginning of her own nursing career, when the only one she could fit into was a size 30.
Katie said: “ I am just so much more outgoing. Me and a friend have even started going to a pole dancing class.
“Before, I would make up excuses not to go out. I would say I had no money, or it was too far to go or that I wasn’t well, or that I was already going out with family. Anything to avoid having to face people, really. But not any more.”
Gillian said: “We both have so much more self esteem now. It was a struggle bringing up my children as a single parent and my weight made that so much worse. Life has turned around for us.”
Alizonne uses medically-formulated replacement meals before reintroducing a normal diet.
The diet is aided by treatments: Ultrasound to target and break down fatty deposits which are then flushed from the body naturally; a collagen-firming treatment to tighten the skin
To find out more visit www.alizonne.co.uk or telephone 0113 282 2266.