At 5ft 3.5in, and weighing more than 16st, Kerrie Bailey took up a lot of space. But despite her size, the now-52-year-old, was desperate to hide away. She covered up her body in big, baggy men’s sweatshirts and trousers.
Kerrie, of Curlew Drive, Portchester, says: ‘Even though I was so big, I felt invisible. I felt people ignored me.
‘Shop assistants would help other people rather than me.
‘It was like I didn’t matter. It was as if I wasn’t worthy of people’s attention. I felt really low and I was angry with myself for getting to that weight.’
Gorging on pizzas and unhealthy ready meals caused agonising acid reflux which meant she couldn’t bear to lay flat for long periods of time. That had a knock-effective of not being able to sleep and always feeling exhausted.
But worse was to come. Having been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes aged 23, her condition was getting drastically worse.
It got to the stage where her kidneys were failing and she was staring at a lifetime on dialysis.
She says: ‘I ended up with kidney disease. It's called leaking kidneys and it’s where they start to break down. In 2014, I’d reached stage four and I was looking at daily dialysis. It would have been horrific.’
Kerrie, who has been married to Colin for 20 years, says she was at her lowest ebb, but still needed convincing to lose weight.
She says: ‘Even though my doctor warned me I may have to start dialysis and that losing weight would help, it still took me a couple of weeks to decide to go on a diet.
‘Then a Slimming World leaflet came through the door.
‘A couple of weeks later another one came through the door and it was the nudge I needed.
‘I was sceptical before because I need carbs.
‘But on Slimming World I could still eat them and didn’t have to do weighing and measuring.
‘At first, losing weight seemed an impossible task, it seemed overwhelming.
‘My goal was to be 10st but I didn’t actually think I’d get anywhere near it. But I actually ended up 10st 5lbs, which was a bit too much for me, it wasn’t sustainable. And as an older woman I needed a bit more weight on my face.
‘I’m now 10st 11lbs and have gained an inch in height!
‘I was 5ft 3.5in, but now my posture has improved and I’m taller. My shoes size has also gone down.’
But the most important outcome is that Kerrie no longer needs to undergo dialysis, which came as a huge relief.
‘A visit to my clinic revealed that my kidney disease had improved so much that I was back in stage three so the threat of dialysis was for now removed.’
Kerrie finds it hard to believe she was overweight and unhealthy for so long.
She says: ‘I went through a good three to four years where I did not feel attractive at all.
‘My husband did want me to lose weight but did not make a big deal of it. The issue was with me – I felt like an embarrassment to him. I didn’t want to socialise at all. I stayed in all the time, we never went anywhere.
‘I was very, very depressed at my lowest point.
‘I was a size 20-22 and I wore men’s clothes. Pretty clothes didn’t go up to my size.
‘I tried to hide myself away in men’s sweatershirts and jumpers, I wanted to cover up my size. I was lucky because I could get away with that in my job as a screen printer.’
Kerrie admits that she’s loving buying a whole new wardrobe-full of clothes, including those pretty, figure-hugging dresses she couldn’t wear before.
And during those dark days when Kerrie was obese, she could not have imagined in her wildest dreams that she would ended up in a running race.
But that’s what losing weight gave her the confidence to do.
She completed a 5km with her friends from Slimming World and says: ‘I crossed the line like a member of the cast of The Walking Dead...but I did it.
‘I now do regular weights, aerobics and stretching for the over 50s.’
Delighted husband Colin says: I was so impressed at how she stuck to it, she seemed really determined to lose the weight this time and it worked.
‘I'm very proud of her.’
Slimming World has changed Kerrie’s life so dramatically that she has decided to become a consultant.
She says: ‘I want to help others to feel the same happiness and motivation.’
Kerrie to help others achieve their dreams
Kerrie Bailey always struggled with her weight and couldn’t stick to previous diets.
But Slimming World changed her life.
She says: ‘I have a big appetite and that hasn't changed. The difference now is in the way I prepare food, cooking without oil, and the ratio of speed and free food on my plate.
‘I averaged a 1lb – 2lb loss per week, with my highest loss being 6lb in one week. Being hungry was a concern but I needn't have worried. Food optimising meant I could eat to my appetite with no measuring or weighing, and by careful swapping and cooking I didn't have to give up any of my favourites.
‘I had the pleasure of being voted Woman of the Year in my Portchester group. This lead to me going to the regional finals where I was voted to represent Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in the national finals.
‘It was one of the most amazing days of my life. What Slimming World did for me was give me my life back. I found the old me, the fun me, the confident me – a new, old me.’
Kerrie has now become a Slimming World consultant to help others achieve their dreams.
Her group is at The Crofton Club, Stubbington, at 9.30am on Wednesdays. Call 0344 897 8000 or go to slimmingworld.co.uk.