Slimming World's Woman of the Year (33) who rejected a gastric band operation lost 14 stone in eighteen months
A morbidly obese woman who turned down a gastric band operation lost 14 stone in 18 months.
Cheryl Blythe was 31 when her GP told her she would be dead or confined to a wheelchair by 45 if she did not lose weight.
But she rejected weight-loss surgery in favour of eating healthily, and from a starting weight of 24st is now down to 10st.
Ms Blythe, now 33, began ballooning in weight after she became pregnant with her daughter at the age of 17.
Feeling lonely as a young mother, she comfort-ate in secret to pass the time.
By her early 30s she was suffering breathing problems and back pain, and found walking difficult.
Ms Blythe said: "I knew my health wasn't good and the things I heard from my doctor scared me, but I always prioritised other people - my family call me their 'button' because they say I hold everything and everyone together during the hard times."
The turning point came on a trip to Southend with two friends in September 2013.
She said: "My weight affected everything we did that day - my back was so painful, we had to keep stopping when we were walking so I could catch my breath, I couldn't fit in some chairs because they were too small, and I felt like everyone was staring at me the whole time.
"I realised that at 31 my friends had become my carers and I couldn't pretend I was OK anymore."
Two days later, Ms Blythe, a mother-of-two from Basildon, Essex, joined her local Slimming World club.
She swapped family takeaways and large bars of chocolate for home-cooked meals and healthier snacks, and took up exercise, walking before she was able to run again.
"I felt that by having a gastric band fitted I wouldn't be learning anything about healthy eating or my own relationship with food - or helping my children to have a good understanding of healthy eating either," she said.
Ms Blythe will now be crowned Slimming World Woman of the Year, and credits the weight-loss club with her health.
"Slimming World has given me my life back," she said.
"My health problems have disappeared, I no longer sit on the sidelines while my family have fun without me, my friends aren't my carers any more, I can wear whatever I want - the list is endless."