Vicky Chaffer of Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England, was over the moon when her boyfriend, David, proposed in New York’s central park during a 30th birthday trip.
But she was so self-conscious about her size-22 figure (UK size 26) that she refused to allow him to take snaps to mark the happy occasion. She even delayed setting a date because she was so upset by her 378-pound frame.
Vicky, now 35, who works as a pension’s administrator, told how they finally tied the knot when she’d lost a massive 204 pounds.
Vicky said: “I knew deep down we weren’t setting a date because I was so self-conscious. I used to say to my friends, I don’t want to be looking like Shrek in a dress when I walk down the aisle.
“I still regret now that I was in that position where I didn’t have any engagement photographs. I just didn’t let David take any photographs of me showing my ring off because I didn’t like how I looked.
“I’d have married him the next day if I’d been comfortable and confident, but I just didn’t want to get married looking like that so I kept putting off making any plans.”
Two years after their engagement, holiday snaps from Newquay, in Cornwall, England, left her in floods of tears. And she was left further heartbroken when she got on the scales at home and the error message flashed up because she was too heavy for them.
“We went on holiday in May 2018 for my birthday and when I saw pictures of myself, I cried,” she said.
“I got on my scales at home and it said error—I didn’t realize that the maximum weight was 24 stone… I burst into tears.
“I thought if I don’t change now, I’ll not see the next five years out.”
Vicky joined a weight-loss program and ditched her regular takeaways for healthier, home-cooked food, and started exercising. She managed to slim down to 174 pounds, fitting into a size-8 (UK size-12) dress for her big day in May this year.
And she was not the only one to shed weight. David, 36, lost 98 pounds because of the new healthy homemade food his fiancee was cooking for him and her mother also lost 84 pounds at Slimming World with her.
Vicky said: “I can’t even remember at what point I felt ready, my confidence just sky-rocketed as the weight came off, and then I reached a magic number and said ‘let’s do it.’”
At first, the wedding was due for June last year after she’d lost 112 pounds. But the COVID-19 pandemic put things on hold, and by the time the new date in May came around, Vicky had lost a further 84 pounds during the lockdown.
She had to get her size-14 (UK size-18) wedding dress altered to fit her new size-8 frame. Even her engagement ring has had to be re-sized.
“The day was really special—definitely a day we’ll never forget,” Vicky said. “When I look back on our wedding pictures they literally make me smile.
“They really capture how happy we are, which is what I always wanted from my wedding pictures, but what I thought I’d never be able to get before my weight loss.
“I’d have felt so uncomfortable and embarrassed about how I looked so I wouldn’t have been able to relax and enjoy our day. And I’d never have bought my dream dress because I wouldn’t have dared buy anything so figure-hugging before because I wasn’t happy in my own skin at that time.
“I couldn’t even look at pictures of myself before my weight loss because I was so unhappy with myself, whereas I still spending evenings now looking through our wedding pictures and I can’t help but smile.”
Vicky said her weight gradually increased over the years after she’d slipped into a routine of convenience food and takeaways. She and David, an IT manager, would previously gorge on takeaways three nights a week and eat quick convenience foods rather than cooked meals from scratch.
She said if David was working late, she’d just get a fast-food meal on the way home.
Determined to turn her life around, Vicky joined Slimming World and followed its guidance on cooking meals from scratch. In her first week at her local group, in November 2018, she lost 8 pounds, and the pounds continued to fall off at a steady rate of around 2 to 3 per week.
“I was really nervous but I thought I would give it a go,” she said. “And my mum really is my rock who keeps me on track … I was so nervous at first and I would never have done it without her.”
Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.