Three women on how they transformed their bodies after a break-up just like superstar Adele – The Sun
MANY women reach for a big tub of ice cream after a break-up, but these three ladies had something else in mind.
Charlotte, Alexa and Suzie talk about how their relationship breakdowns motivated them to transform their bodies.
‘My body demons came between us’
Alexa Whitten, 48, is a publisher and book coach. She lives in Portsmouth with her son Oliver, 14.
“Slumped on the sofa, I opened my mouth and poured a tube of Pringles into it, washing them down with a glass of wine. Weighing almost 22st at 6ft 1in, and a size 22, I was uncomfortable and unhappy – and not just with my body.
I knew my eight-year relationship was coming to an end. Paul, 52, lived in Manchester and I was in Portsmouth, both tied to those locations because of our children from previous relationships. The distance had taken its toll, and increasingly I felt I was the one making the effort, while also battling with body insecurities, which put a strain on our relationship.
Paul constantly reassured me about my size, but he’d get frustrated when I’d moan about my body then do nothing about it. And the bigger I got, the more our sex life suffered. My size was a physical barrier, and because I didn’t feel self-confident it was an emotional one, too.
I was a size 14 and 16st when I met Paul on an online forum for James Bond fans in 2010. I felt fantastic at that size, but the pounds crept on, thanks to going out for fancy meals and cosy nights in together with a bottle of wine. But then I began to binge because I was bored and missed him when we were apart, or if we’d had an argument.
‘HE WAS GOBSMACKED’
Living so far away from each other was hard and we’d bicker about silly things. During the day I ate normally, but with crisps and a bottle of wine. I’d easily put away 2,000 calories in just an evening. After a particularly disastrous weekend with Paul in March 2018, when I’d walked out after an argument, I realised things were so bad I had to make a decision about our relationship.
I carried on comfort eating and hit rock bottom a month later in April 2018, when on holiday in Wales with my son Oliver I wasn’t allowed on a zipwire at an outdoor adventure centre because of my weight. I was mortified. I knew then I’d have to make some changes in my life or I’d never be happy.
So I texted Paul and broke up with him. I told him I felt he was being indifferent and wouldn’t share responsibility for the fact our relationship was breaking down. I was heartbroken, but knew I’d done the right thing.A fter the split, I missed Paul but threw myself into a healthy lifestyle so I had a new focus and something to feel positive about.
I started lifting weights three times a week, as well as swimming and running, building up from 1k to 10k. I used an app to calculate my daily calorie allowance for my height and weight, which was 1,600. I’d have fruit for breakfast, lunch was chicken salad with pitta and dinner soup or pasta.
I stopped drinking during the week and swapped my weekend bottle of wine for a glass with a few crisps. I had more energy and loved seeing the scales go down, as well as buying new clothes. If I ever had a wobble, I’d think of Paul and showing him what he’d lost.
Since May 2018, I’ve lost 7st. I’m now size 10-12 and 14st. I’m happy at this weight and am working on getting abs like Davina McCall! My plan for 2020 is to do a triathalon, something I never thought I’d be able to do.
In April this year, I returned to that zipwire, and flying through the air was a symbolic moment. I dabbled in online dating, but a year after we split Paul and I reunited after I texted to say I missed him. When I sent him a photo of myself, he was gobsmacked. We’re back together but still long-distance, though we FaceTime and make equal effort to see one another.
We plan to find a way to live together in the future. I’m a different woman now without the body demons that put a barrier between us. And Paul’s changed – living without me made him realise I’m who he wants. The spark we had is back. We’re happier than ever. When we’re together we go to the gym and I’ve encouraged him to take up running. It’s a new chapter for both of us.”
‘Now I’m the best version of me’
Suzie Jafar, 34, is a team manager for a global IT company. She lives in Hertfordshire with her five-year-old daughter.
“Gasping for breath, I wiped the sweat off my face and for the first time since my marriage ended, I felt a flicker of hope. It was October 2017, a month after my husband Tom* had moved out of our home, telling me he wasn’t happy being with me. I’d just finished my first kickboxing cardio class, after my sister Rayya had dragged me along to her local gym.
At 14st and a size 16 at 5ft 2in, I’d feared I’d be the biggest person there, unable to keep up with the class. If it hadn’t been for her, I’d have stayed at home and ordered a Chinese takeaway. Changing my body wasn’t even on my radar at that time. Rebuilding my shattered confidence was my priority and it was my therapist, who I’d been seeing since my separation, who suggested I try exercise as a way to keep my mind busy and give me a different focus.
By the end of that first exercise class, I knew I’d found the coping mechanism that was going to help me through my divorce. I was a size 10-12 and weighed around 10st when I married Tom in 2013, but after Katie* was born the following year, I steadily gained weight. I suffered from post-natal depression and, apart from going to work, I didn’t want to go out socially, so became increasingly isolated.
I grew lazy, ordering takeaways most nights instead of cooking, and during the day I’d make bad choices, skipping breakfast then having something stodgy like fish and chips from the work canteen for lunch. As my marriage began to fall apart, I definitely ate my feelings, snacking on cake and chocolate.
Tom and I would argue, usually triggered by him telling me he wasn’t happy, and me feeling never good enough. And the bigger I became, the more my weight affected our relationship, because I struggled to feel sexy or attractive and my mood was as low as my body-confidence.
Tom and I met in 2008, but over time we both had our doubts that we were right for each other. It wasn’t a secret – we’d say so to each other, usually in the heat of an argument. For a long time, we persevered, especially because we had a child together, but neither of us was happy. It was still devastating when, during our only therapy session together in September 2017, he said he didn’t love me and didn’t want to work at rebuilding our marriage. I drove home, packed up his bags and when he came back, asked him to leave.
In the immediate aftermath of our split, I fell apart. My stress and anxiety levels were through the roof, I couldn’t eat and I was frightened about facing the future as a single mum. Friends, family and colleagues rallied around me though, and Katie and I lived with my mum for extra support. After that first class, I started doing five sessions a week after work, while my mum looked after Katie.
Discovering the power of exercise was life-changing, and put me on a new, more positive, path. It was a physical release from all the negative emotions inside me. I cut out takeaways and started eating better – having fruit for breakfast, mackerel and salad for lunch and chicken with veg in the evening. I didn’t set myself a goal weight, I just wanted to feel better about myself. If I wanted a glass of wine or a pudding, I had one as a treat.
From time to time, I’d see Tom when I was dropping Katie off to spend time with him. I wanted him to see what he’d lost, and he did compliment me, saying I was looking great. A meme I’d read would run through my mind, which said: ‘If you didn’t love me then, you don’t deserve me now’. It made me feel empowered because although I wanted things to be amicable, I didn’t miss Tom at all and knew I was happier.
Today I weigh 9st and am a size 8-10. I’ve got my neck and waist back, I’ve kept my curves, but my body is strong. I’m happy with my weight now, but I want to keep toning up. I chucked out all my frumpy jeggings and tent-like tops and now I love bodycon.
I realise I could have easily gone the other way, and used food to cope, spiralling into morbid obesity and who knows what health problems. I’m so grateful I discovered fitness instead. Now, I’m happily single and just focusing on being the best mum I can. I have so much more energy for running around with Katie, and I’m loving our life together.
I barely recognise that overweight, angry, sad woman I was two years ago. Today I’m the best version of myself, physically and emotionally. I hope I’ve shown my daughter it’s possible to come through a dark time with your head held high and feeling better than ever.”
‘My ex ghosted me, but look at me now!’
Charlotte Thomas, 25, is an accountant and entertainer. She lives in Merseyside with her family.
“Being ghosted by my ex Jack*, 26, was the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Since he dumped me in October 2017, I’ve lost 21/2 st, embarked on a new career and never felt better about myself. It hadn’t been the happiest of relationships. We met on Tinder in 2016 and the first three months were great – he was caring and we had fun when we went out together.
But then the cracks started to show, and when we rowed Jack would use my vulnerability about my body against me. At 5ft 6in, I was a size 14 and 121/2 st when we met, and not confident about my looks. During the year we were together I gained a stone and went up to a size 16, thanks to a combination of staying in with him and greasy takeaways, plus my terrible biscuit habit – I’d eat 15 in one sitting without even thinking about it.
I also drank fizzy drinks and, bored at work, would snack on bags of crisps all day. I hated my figure, especially my wobbly tummy. I’d dress in black and wear sparkly make-up to detract attention from my body. When we argued, Jack would tell me I was a ‘six’, and he was a ‘10’, and I was ‘lucky’ to be with him.
I once overheard his mum calling me a ‘big girl’ and he said nothing to defend me. Looking back, I can’t believe I tolerated it, but my self-esteem was so low and I didn’t think I deserved better. Then one day I noticed a Tinder notification pop up on his mobile screen. I couldn’t help myself and picked up his phone, realising he’d been chatting to other girls on the app.
I was devastated, but he refused to even discuss it with me when I confronted him. Upset, I left his house and that was the last time I ever saw or heard from him. He blocked me on social media and didn’t respond to my messages. Just like that, it was over. I was heartbroken, and didn’t know how I would ever get closure when he’d just cut me off.
After we split I realised how unhappy I was, not just with how our relationship had ended, but also with my body, my job… my entire life. Instead of wallowing though, I felt determined to change things. I’d taken dance lessons in the past and dreamed of working as an entertainer. Even though my confidence was low and I was out of shape, I decided to step out of my comfort zone.
I quit my accountancy job and applied to work for a year at a holiday camp in North Wales, performing in shows and taking kids’ activities. Jack was barely on my mind, and I wanted to look forward not back. Living on site, I had access to a gym and started working out several times a week, as well as going for daily walks on the beach nearby.
The job was very active, performing every day, so I wasn’t stuck at a desk any more. I needed energy, so salads, baked potatoes, chicken and vegetables were on the menu, and I ditched takeaways and crisps. And instead of bingeing on biscuits, I’d have one or two squares of chocolate if I needed a sweet treat.
After six weeks, I’d lost a stone and my body felt firmer. I threw away my size-16 black clothes and bought dresses and shorts to show off my toned legs. I’m now a size 10-12 and weigh 10st. I’m able to wear clothes that have been at the back of my wardrobe since I was 20, the last time I was this size.
I’m working as an accountant again, but I continue to perform part-time at holiday camps and events, which keeps me fit, and I still eat healthily. I’m happily single – I’ve been on a few dates this year, but I haven’t met anyone special yet.
I don’t know if Jack is aware of how I’ve changed, but if I saw him I’d tell him he did me a favour spurring me into putting myself first and transforming my body and my life. I overhauled my body for myself, but Jack’s cruel comments definitely motivated me – not just to lose weight, but to grow in confidence. I’d never let a man talk like that to me again.”
Hair & make-up: Sara Bowden using Giorgio Armani
Styling: Salome Munuo