Daily Star
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Podgy pals Beveley Nothman, 45, from Buckinghamshire and Michelle Mercer, 36, from Berkshire , feared they'd never lose their baby weight.

Beverley says  ...

Pulling on my ivory bodice and gold taffeta skirt, I gazed in the mirror and sighed.

It was my wedding day , June 12, 2004 , and I was every inch the blushing bride. But it wasn't because I was glowing – it was because I looked a proper pudding.

“I feel huge”, I told a friend, before I faced our guests a Maidenhead Synagogue, where I was marrying Tony, now 49.

“   You look lovely  ”, she said.

But I knew I didn't – I was bursting out all over the place.

Six months earlier I'd given birth to our daughter, Olivia, and had never lost the 2st I'd put on. At 5ft 3in, I was a size 18 and over 11st.

“The weight's supposed to drop off after birth isn't it?” I said to my friend Michelle Mercer, who I'd met at a National Childbirth Trust group in 2003.

“   Well it's not coming off me  ”, she said, “   Look at my stomach!”

We met every week for coffee and complained endlessly about our figures. We both hated our tummies and couldn't shift more than a few pounds.

“   I love you whatever size you are,”  Tony reassured me. “   You're gorgeous.”

I didn't feel it. I could never find anything to wear and still slobbed around in maternity clothes and big knickers.

I longed to wear skinny jeans and tight tops and, over the next 18 months , I joined Weight Watchers and Slimming World. I lost half a stone but couldn't keep it off. “   We should try a fasting retreat  ,” Michelle suggested in 2007. By the time we found FitFarms we were desperate for results.

FitFarms is an intense, residential weight-loss holiday In Exmoor for women who want a lifestyle change.

“Let's do it,” I said.

We paid £900 each and booked up for February last year. We arrived with 20 other women, and were woken at 5.45am for seven hours of exercise a day. All our meals were cooked for us with no dairy, alcohol, sugar or salt.

“I think I'm going to faint,” I said on the second day when I was circuit-training.

Because my body was used to eating so much chocolate, my blood sugar levels were all over the place.

Handing me a cup of apple juice, the instructor told me to lie down for half an hour and I felt fine after that – I just had to wait for my sugar levels to balance out.

“I've lost half a stone,” I told Michelle at the end of the week. I was delighted and Tony definitely noticed a difference.

“   You look fantastic  ,” he said. “   You have more energy too.”

It was true so I carried on exercising six times a week. I now weigh 8st 2lb and am a size 8. I'm slimmer and so much happier and healthier.

These days I have no problem getting into my skinny jeans.

Michelle says...

My weight has always fluctuated dramatically. On our honeymoon in the Seychelles , in November 2002, I was 9st 7lb. But I managed to put on a stone in two weeks.

When Ii fell pregnant four months later, I put on another stone in the first trimester.

“I just can't get enough cheese,” I told my husband Mark, 40, gorging on jacket potatoes with cheese and beans.

The pregnancy cravings, coupled with the stress of my job in finance, made me indulge. So when I gave birth to Elicia in January 2004, I weighed over 12st.

“At least we'll lose the baby weight now,” I told Beverley, expecting it fall off. But it didn't. Though I managed to lose a few pounds, I was still wearing maternity clothes.

“I'm hiring a personal trainer,” I said – but although I lost a stone in four months it was too expensive, so I stopped.

During my second pregnancy I put on another 2st. When my daughter Charlie was born, in April 2006, I was 12st again.

“I look horrible,” I complained to Mark, looking back at wedding snaps when I was a size 10. “I wish I was slim again.”

“You've had two lovely girls,” he said, “Don't give yourself a hard time, you look great.”

But by New Year's Eve 2007, I'd had enough. We were staying in a cottage in the countryside with some friends who were all size 8 and 10. None of my clothes fitted me and I felt absolutely dreadful.

“I have to lose weight,” I told Mark. For the first six months I had to take control of my weight issues – but I still had bad habits. I couldn't resist a bag of crisps and a glass of wine. Coupled with a big dinner, I could rack up 3,00 calories a day without even realising it.

“I'm so ready for this,” I told Bev, when we went to FitFarms. Even though it was hard work, it gave me the kick I needed.

“My whole body shape has changed,” I told Bev at the end of the week. I lost six inches off my waist and half a stone.

My arms felt toned for the first time in years.

I now exercise with Bev five or six times a week and I'm 9st 12lbs. I'd still like to lose another half a stone – but I feel so much happier and healthier.

I'm now the proud owner of size 10 skinny jeans – a personal goal realised!