WHEN Victoria West looks in the mirror, she can barely recognise herself.
The single mum spent so long being hugely overweight that she had come to believe she was meant to be fat.
But since starting exercising in February 2018, then taking up weightlifting after splitting from her husband in January, she has lost 8st and dropped seven dress sizes.
Victoria, who is mum to Isabelle, four, and Tommy two, says: “Losing weight wasn’t enough, it was weightlifting that changed my shape and gave me the body I’d always wished for.
“Last year, I wouldn’t have dreamt of going clothes shopping, but this year I can slip into a size 8.”
Victoria had always been overweight and, after having Isabelle in 2015, she struggled to lose 4.5st of baby weight.
Victoria is now just 9st and a size 8[/caption]
The commercial executive from Loughborough, Leics, says: “At school I was always bigger than my friends. I went on every diet I could think of and my weight would yo-yo, but nothing really worked.
“I met my ex-husband when I was 16 and got pregnant when I was 26. I ate terribly during my pregnancy and after having Isabelle, I didn’t lose any baby weight.
“I was big, fat and unhappy. My life was looking after the baby and the home and I had no confidence.”
When Isabelle was 13 months old, Victoria got pregnant with the couple’s second child and developed gestational diabetes due to her weighing 16.5st.
The single mum says weightlifting ‘gave her the body she always wanted’[/caption]
She says: “At a routine appointment, my urine was found to contain high levels of glucose and I was referred for a blood test.
“I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, put on (type 2 diabetes drug) metformin and told to inject myself with insulin four times a day.
“I was also advised to go on a diabetic-friendly diet so I ditched sugar and carbs and started eating high-fat foods like cheese, eggs, red meat and full-fat yoghurt.”
Victoria gave birth to Tommy in October 2017 and despite her gestational diabetes going away, she continued with the eating regime.
However, four months after the birth, Victoria still weighed 17st and her confidence had plummeted. Something had to change.
She says: “As a family, we were plodding along with life but I wasn’t happy. I had no confidence.
“I rarely went out or saw friends, and in the height of summer I’d have to wear a cardigan as I refused to show my arms.
“I started to tell myself I was meant to be fat, and that I was big boned. In reality, I was miserable and hated the way I looked.”
In February 2018, Victoria bought some exercise DVDs, including Joe Wicks’ The Body Coach HIIT workout and started doing them while her baby napped. Within two months, she began to notice a change in her shape.
Victoria says: “When my confidence started to grow my relationship changed. I no longer wanted to stay in at the weekends — I wanted to visit new places now I had self-esteem.
“I was finally finding myself. I wanted to go out and have fun, not hide from the world. Deep down, I knew my marriage was over and I needed to look after my health for my kids.”
In January this year, Victoria and her husband separated. She weighed 12st 11lb and took up weightlifting which helped her get into even better shape.
She says: “We agreed on 50/50 custody of the kids and, while I was on my own, I started going to the gym.
“I used the treadmill and exercise bike until I came across a video on Facebook about weightlifting. It was daunting, but next time I went to the gym, I tried the free weights, dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells.
“To start with, I had no clue what I was doing. But after finding exercises on Instagram, I was hooked. The gym became my sanctuary. After a bad day, a workout always made me feel better.”
Victoria also overhauled her diet. She explains: “Breakfast was full-fat Greek yoghurt, berries and honey, lunch would be snacks like cheese, or a small portion of meat, and for dinner I’d have pork tenderloin, rice and veg, or chicken fajitas with lettuce boats.”
Victoria feels better than ever and is confident in the way she looks[/caption]
Since January, Victoria has lost 3st 3lb, meaning that in the 20 months since February 2018, she has dropped from 17st to 9st and a size 22 to a size 8.
“I was dropping a dress size every few weeks and constantly buying new clothes,” she says.
Victoria can now deadlift an impressive 90kg, chest press 50kg and squat 80kg.
She says: “Lifting weights has not only drastically changed my health, but gives me an outlet to work out the stresses of everyday life.
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“For the first time in my life, I’m proud of my body and I’m confident in the way I look.
“I’ve never felt better, and I want everyone to know no matter what size they are, they can lose weight.
“I’m still single but I’m excited for what the future might hold.”
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