Unwitting strangers proved the catalyst for a size 22 student to finally lose weight – after they kept giving up their seats for her on public transport.
Fay Marshall, 23, from Enfield, weighed in at 21st 5lbs after gorging on three takeaways a week and eating a 12-pack of jam tarts in one sitting.
However, when people on the Tube assumed the criminology and psychology student was pregnant and offered to move for her – she says she was shamed into taking positive action – and has now lost eight-and-a-half stone and been named Slimming World’s Woman of the Year.
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Student Fay Marshall, 23, from Enfield, London says a spiral of bad eating left her weighing nearly 22 stone. After losing eight-and-a-half stone, she’s now been crowned Slimming World’s Woman of the Year
Pregnant pause: Fay decided to change her eating habits after kind passengers on the Tube unwittingly kept offering her a seat, assuming that she was expecting
Joy: Fay had struggled with her weight since childhood but was determined to overhaul her eating habits – and has now been rewarded with a healthier frame – and a Slimming World award
Fay says she had been overweight from the age of ten and as she put on the pounds, she would use a hair tie to fasten up her trousers because she couldn’t face buying a bigger dress size.
Before shedding her weight she would typically start the day with four slices of peanut butter on toast, followed up with a lunchtime sandwich, crisps, chocolate bar and a can of fizzy drink – with a whole pizza for tea.
In addition, Fay says she would munch away on chocolate, crisps and jam tarts as snacks throughout the day.
Fay said: ‘It was a cycle – the bigger I got, the less confident I was about going out with my friends so I’d stay in and secret eat instead.
‘At school I’d sit on the field in protest in PE lessons and refuse to join in.
‘What happened on the Tube back in December 2015 – on two separate occasions – was humiliating.
‘Having to explain that I wasn’t actually pregnant was bad enough, but I also knew I probably wouldn’t fit in the seat they’d offered me anyway.
‘My confidence hit rock bottom at that point – I’d go to bed early, get up late and I didn’t really leave the house much at all.
‘I hated looking at myself in photos and I was sick of never being able to get any nice clothes.’
It was Fay’s nan who came along with her to her first weight-loss class, something she felt nervous about – assuming she’d be the biggest person there
After seeing how distraught Fay was, grandmother Pam took her to Charlene Griffith’s Enfield Vineyard slimmers group in north London.
The Middlesex University student began following Slimming World’s Food Optimising eating plan and says initially her nan, who she lived with at the time, did the bulk of the cooking.
Fay added: ‘Even having Nan with me, I was nervous and scared – I thought I’d be the biggest there.
HOW FAY PILED ON THE POUNDS…AND FINALLY SHED THE WEIGHT
Breakfast: 4 slices of white toast spread with butter and peanut butter;
Lunch: Pre-packaged sandwich, crisps, chocolate bar and a sugary fizzy drink;
Dinner: Takeaway, such as pizza or chicken burger;
Snacks: Sweets, chocolates, crisps, jam tarts.
Breakfast: Overnight oats – porridge oats layered with lots of frozen berries and quark
Lunch: Couscous or pasta salad, or ‘pizza’ omelette with salad
Dinner: BBQ pulled pork with cabbage and green beans, or homemade kebab with a wholemeal pitta bread, Slimming World-style chips (baked in the oven in low calorie cooking spray) and salad
Snacks: fruit, high-fibre cereal bars, popcorn, small bar of chocolate or Twister ice lolly
‘Everyone was so kind and friendly though, and I can honestly say I’ve never met a negative person there – every week we have a laugh and I’ve made friends for life.
‘I always say if I could bottle the feeling I get from my Slimming World group I would, because there’s nothing quite like it.
‘I didn’t know how to boil an egg when I started losing weight, so I’d been pretty dependent on takeaways – I usually had at least three a week and I was known to get through a 12-pack of jam tarts regularly too.
Healthy weight: Fay weighs in at 12st 11lbs now and loves going out and socialising, something she says she felt too inhibited to do before
‘Nan started to show me how to make different meals though and I learned how to adapt the dishes I liked to make Slimming World-friendly versions – now my favourite meal is a lean kebab with wholemeal pitta bread, Slimming World-friendly chips and salad.
‘It’s so easy to prepare and tastes better than a takeaway.’
She now has porridge for breakfast, salads for lunch and swopped fatty snacks for fruit, cereal bars and popcorn.
Fay’s also become more active and now enjoys swimming, pilates and going to the gym.
She and her partner of seven years Mark, who she now lives with, recently went on a hiking and cycling on holiday in Florida, where she wore shorts for the first time in her adult life.
I always thought I was destined to be overweight forever but I’ve changed my destiny and if I can do that I believe anyone can…
Fay now weighs just 12st 11lbs and is a size 12, and says her new-found confidence has let her enjoy socialising again.
She has even signed up for a sky dive to celebrate achieving her target weight.
Fay, who works part-time as a receptionist alongside her studies, said: ‘Before, whenever I walked into a room I would feel as though everyone was looking at me and thinking ‘wow, she’s a big girl’.
‘Now I can walk into any room standing up straight and with my head held high.
‘I always thought I was destined to be overweight forever, but I’ve changed my destiny and if I can do that I believe anyone can.
‘And I definitely don’t have to worry about anyone offering me a seat on the tube because they think I’m pregnant anymore – while that usually means I have to stand, it’s a pretty good feeling.’