A 39-year-old woman who turned down weight-loss surgery despite being told that she could be dead within a year has shed more than 17 stone by changing her diet.
Maxine Wren shed and incredible 17st and 7lb and dropped 13 dress sizes – going from a 36 to an 8/10 – and has been named Slimming World’s Woman of the Year 2018.
Five years ago, her GP prescribed slimming pills and referred her for a gastric bypass operation.
But a month later when she discovered her sister was expecting a baby, she decided surgery was too much of a risk, declined the operation and joined her local Slimming World group instead, weighing 27st 12lbs. Since March 2013, she’s dropped to 10st 4½lbs.
Maxine, from Chester-le-Street in County Durham, says: “The slimming pills made me so poorly that I had to stop taking them. Plus, I didn’t want to die on the operating table and never meet my nephew, so I decided to join Slimming World instead and I’m so glad I did.”
She has struggled with her weight since a very young age after being born with a rare bone disease, called Blount’s disease, which affected her mobility and meant at her biggest Maxine struggled to walk without crutches.
She turned to food to comfort her through the pain, and throughout her adult life she tried slimming clubs, calorie-controlled shakes and fad diets to bring her weight under control but nothing worked.
Maxine says she became resigned to the fact that she was meant to be big, she said: “I painted a smile on my face but inside my heart was broken.”
Her size left her struggling with asthma and low energy levels, and worsened her symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome.
People would also stare and point in the street, which affected Maxine’s self-esteem and left her lacking the confidence to talk to new people and make friends.
On hearing her sister’s baby news and realising she needed to make a change, Maxine chose Slimming World after a leaflet was posted through her letterbox.
She says: “Even though I knew people who had been successful with Slimming World, I was still petrified and it took me three weeks to actually walk through the doors.
"I worried the other members would stare at me or that I was so big I’d break the scales.
"This was my last chance though and I had to do it. Everyone was really friendly so I had nothing to worry about and I lost a massive 12lbs in my first week – for the first time in my life I felt like there was light at the end of the tunnel.”
Maxine, who is a qualified nursery nurse but unable to work due to her disability, began following Slimming World’s Food Optimising eating plan and swapped buttery toast, convenience foods and takeaways for healthy homemade meals.
She said: “It’s not a diet because there’s nothing you can’t have and there’s no need to go hungry. I’ve learned how to make the healthiest choices and can even eat out if I want to. My favourite dish has to be a Slimming World-style kebab, it’s really satisfying and tastes so naughty but it’s not at all. My husband John enjoys the same meals too now.”
In August 2016 Maxine married John wearing a size 8/10 wedding dress and says the day was a dream come true.
She said: “Words can’t describe how special it was to walk down the aisle more than half the woman I was. For the first time in my life, when I look in the mirror I like how I look – and I felt like a princess on my wedding day.”
While Maxine’s disability means she can’t do much exercise, she’s more active than before and loves being able to walk and play with the young nephew who provided her the inspiration to start her journey.
She says: “I hope I’m proof to people that there’s never any amount of weight you can’t lose. Everything’s changed. I don’t hide away anymore. I always say Slimming World didn’t just save my life, it’s given me life.”