JOHANNA Jewell loved fast food.
Every night dinner was a take-away or a ready meal. Her job meant she spent much of her working day on the road and would often eat two McDonalds a day – one for breakfast and another for lunch before tucking into another take-away for dinner.
The 36-year-old from Hampshire says that she was already overweight when she divorced seven years ago and her weight began to climb further.
“I got into the party lifestyle and would go out five nights a week – and that all revolved around alcohol and take-aways,” she admits.
She was a size 16 when she fell pregnant in 2009. But by the time she returned to work six months after her daughter was born in July 2010 she had shot up to a size 22 and weighed 16 stone.
“It was awful. I had to buy a new wardrobe of size 22 work clothes,” she says.
Johanna before she started to lose weight
“I would try to eat well in the day but then be eating take-aways at night. It was convenience and comfort. I’d have take-away pizzas or be microwaving ready meals. I am a single parent and it was a case of anything to save time. Whenever I met my friends, that revolved around food as well, with things like pub lunches.”
Johanna says she tried lots of ways to lose weight but would always slip back to her old ways after a few days.
“I bought gym equipment and exercise DVDs but I never stuck to anything,” she says.
But something changed for Johanna when she was on holiday with her daughter and mother around a year after she returned to work.
“We had taken some digital photos of us round the pool. I was looking at them that evening and I looked like a beached whale – I was just so massive,” she says.
“That day I decided I had to do something about it. I went straight on the internet and decided to set up an order with Diet Chef so that the food was there for me when I got back.”
The company sends pre portioned meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner and healthy snacks.
“It meant it was convenient and it was all proper food. I’m no good at calorie counting or things like that but all I had to do was add vegetables.”
Over the six months she followed the programme, she managed to lose six stone, dropping to a dress size 12, and has managed to keep the weight off since.
She says that the experience taught her new habits, including giving her a clear understanding of portion size.
“It has changed my life so much,” she says.
“My daughter started to walk and I’ve been able to be active with her – to run alongside her in the park and to take her swimming. My lifestyle has really changed. I’ve even signed up to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with some friends next year so now I have started training for that. I don’t sit on the sofa all the time anymore!”
She adds that losing the weight has also given her a huge confidence boost.
“The week I dropped to a size 12 I got a promotion at work. I would never have had the confidence to go for the interview before,” she says.
“I don’t feel embarrassed anymore – I feel happy to take on any challenge.”
As well as being delighted that she can keep up with her daughter, Johanna is pleased to know she is passing on healthy eating habits to her little girl.
“She loves vegetables, which is a big thing for a three-and-a-half-year-old,” she says.
“I can teach her what she should be eating now. I don’t want her to have weight problems like I did.”
Johanna today with her daughter