For Charlotte Morgan, cruel jibes about her weight and shouts of ‘oi, fatty’ in the street were painful, but still not enough to stop her over-eating.
At a size 24, she was obese and hated the way she looked. Yet she always put on a big smile and pretended to family and friends that she was happy.
It took the heartbreak of the end of her marriage to finally break the cycle of comfort eating.
The nursery nurse, from Fratton, hated her body but could not control the compulsion to devour fatty foods – to the point of smuggling sausage rolls into bed to eat during the night.
But it was heartbreak that finally pushed Charlotte, now 38, to change her almost-18 stone, 5ft 2in frame.
Her husband Mark, who she had been with for 16 years, told her their marriage was over.
Devastated, Charlotte took stock of her life and knew she had to change – starting with her figure.
She recruited a personal trainer, Bic Singh, who runs Southsea-based Xstream Fitness, in September 2013, and threw away the chocolate and crisps she had stashed around her home to eat in secret.
Charlotte lost a staggering four stone in six months and has since shed another four stone.
She now weighs just 9st 12lbs and is a slender size 12.
Long gone are the days where she used to cut the size 24 labels out of her clothes because she was ashamed.
Charlotte says: ‘Something just clicked this time.
‘I decided enough was enough and as the weight began to fall off, together with Bic’s motivation, I was more determined than ever.
‘People often don’t recognise me as they can’t believe how different I look and the kids at nursery ask ‘‘Lottie, where’s your belly gone?’’
‘My ex, Mark, and I are still close friends and he says I look great.
‘He found all my empty chocolate and crisp wrappers behind our bed when I’d moved out!
‘I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and I want other women to know they can do it, too.’
Charlotte was a size 16 when she met Mark.
They married on her 28th birthday and her weight continued to creep up.
She says: ‘I’d hide treats around the house, so I could eat them later when Mark wasn’t around.
‘Once I’d forgotten about a sausage roll I’d hidden under my pillow and I found it in the morning squashed to the bed.
‘I’d bring cakes into work or buy treats for my friends, just so I could have one without people judging me.
‘I was very unhappy because of my weight, but I ate to feel better. It was a vicious circle.’
Cruel taunts from strangers made Charlotte, who works at Ark Alpha in Somers Road, Somers Town, even more self-conscious.
‘I was walking up the road once and someone shouted out their car window “oi, fatty”.
‘I cried my eyes out.
‘The children at nursery have said some things over the years, too.
‘They don’t mean it and they are only being honest, but I remember one of the kids said to me once, “you’ve got a fat belly”. I was mortified.’
The split with Mark in May 2010 was the turning point.
Charlotte says: ‘The stress of the break-up meant I lost four stone without even trying.
‘It was then I heard about Bic Singh and his company Xstream Fitness.
‘I knew I needed to do something extreme, that was for sure!’
Bic overhauled Charlotte’s diet – swapping chocolate bars for seeds and nuts, and chicken salads for lunch instead of cheese baguettes and crisps.
‘It was tough and at times I felt like giving up,’ says Charlotte, ‘But Bic was always checking in with me and keeping me motivated.
‘I hoped to be a size 14 by Christmas that year and when I went into a shop and tried on a size 14 dress, I burst into tears.’
Charlotte now works out five days a week, incorporating cardio and weight training, and even completed the Great South Run last year.
She adds: ‘I’m so grateful to Xstream Fitness and Bic for the help he has given me. It’s changed my life.’
Despite the split from Mark the former couple have remained great friends.
And now, with a new body and a new outlook on life, Charlotte admits that she is open to falling in love again.
‘I’m really confident – more confident than I’ve ever been in my life.
‘With my new body I feel ready for a new relationship now. I’m excited’
Bic is rightly proud of what Charlotte has achieved.
‘Charlotte has done brilliantly and is a huge inspiration to a lot of my clients’ he says.
‘She reached a stage in her life when she wanted to make changes and she’s achieved what she has through amazing determination, with a little support and guidance from Xstream Fitness.
‘There have been tears along the way and times when she has felt like giving up, but we’ve helped her drive forward to get her where she wanted to be.
‘She’s been a pleasure to work with and I’m very proud of her.’
How Charlotte changed her diet
Bic Singh, of Xstream Fitness, overhauled Charlotte Morgan’s diet, swapping high-fat sugary foods for nutritious foods that release good energy.
A typical day for Charlotte in the bad old days would begin by rushing out of the house without any breakfast.
She would snack throughout the day on chocolate bars, pasties, cheese and sausage rolls.
For lunch Charlotte would tuck into a carbohydrate and fat-laden cheese baguette with crisps and a yoghurt – which can also be high in sugar.
Dinner would be a large jacket potato with cheese and beans or a Chinese takeaway.
All that has changed.
Now Charlotte realises how important breakfast is to keep her full until lunch and give her energy. She has porridge with blueberries and a chicken salad for lunch.
Dinner is turkey and vegetables and she snacks on seeds and nuts.
Bic offers one-to-one training, group exercise classes and rehabilitation for people of all abilities in the Portsmouth area.
Classes include Yummy Mummy sessions for mums and their young children at the Charles Dickens Centre in Lake Road at 10.30am Mondays and Wednesdays, and a circuits class on Southsea’s Castle Fields every Saturday at 8am.
Classes are £4. For more information call 07760 556109 or go to facebook.com/xstreamfitness.