A dad and daughter whose combined weight exceeded 45 stone after they bonded over fast food binges have swapped their couch potato lifestyle to become champion slimmers – shedding 17 stone between them.
When former care worker Beth Young, 28, experienced chest pains as she struggled to get up from the sofa in September 2019, it was the warning she needed to tackle her 24st size 28 frame.
Not content simply with addressing her own weight problem, three months after joining a slimming club, the mum, of Hull, East Yorkshire, nagged her 21st 7lb father Pete Dowell, 55, a maintenance engineer, from nearby Beverley, to join her.
Now a 14st 10lb size 16, Beth, who has a son, Rio, nine, with her electrical engineer husband, Gareth, 32, said: “I was in denial about how much I weighed.
“I stopped looking in mirrors and would hide away in photos.
“I was easily eating five takeaways a week and Dad was just as bad.”
By supporting each other, not only has their bond strengthened, but Pete is now a trim 13st 6lb and Beth has celebrated her achievement by becoming a newly qualified Slimming World weight loss consultant.
Recalling the wake-up call that changed her life, Beth said: “When I had chest pains just trying to stand up, I thought, ‘If I’m like this now, what will I be like in 10 years’ time?’
“Dad and I reached our target weights in October this year.”
She continued: “He’s done so well, too, I couldn’t be prouder.
“I honestly don’t believe I’d have managed to get to this point without him. He’s been with me to celebrate the highs and pick me up during the lows.
“He’s been my biggest cheerleader.”
Beth’s own weight battle began aged 17, when she was diagnosed with a blood clot.
Having surgery to treat her atrial fibrillation – a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heartrate – at Hull Royal Infirmary in 2009, just a week later Beth woke up unable to move her legs.
“For two years I’d suffered with heart problems,” she recalled. “My heart would race so fast that my pulse and heart were visible through my skin.”
She continued: “No one took it very seriously at first, but I eventually got a diagnosis and two weeks later I was having keyhole surgery.
“A week after the operation I woke up and my legs were swollen and dead. I called 999 and they told me to get to hospital immediately.”
Diagnosed with a blood clot, Beth spent eight days in hospital, before taking a further six months to recover from the ordeal.
“I wasn’t put on bed rest, but I was told to take it easy,” she recalled. “It took months for me to get my energy levels back.
“Even getting up the stairs to the bathroom was hard work – it left me out of breath.
“I’d never been super slim, but up until that point I hadn’t been overweight either.”
She continued: “I started eating anything and everything, simply out of boredom.
“I was emotional and fed up. I just ate and ate.”
Gaining a whopping four stone in six months, by the time her blood clot had dissolved Beth was pushing 20st and catching up with her dad who, for years, tipped the scales at 21st 4lb and squeezed into a 45in waist and 22in neckline.
At her 24st heaviest, Beth’s body mass index (BMI) used to gauge a healthy weight was 47 compared to the NHS recommended range of 18.5 to 24.9, while her 6ft dad’s was 40.3 – making them both obese.
And, while Beth admits they were not always close, they had one terrific shared bond – a love of calorific fast food.
“We were as bad as each other,” she said.
Rather than taking action, even when she was goaded by thoughtless yobs on nights out, Beth chose to stay in rather than addressing her weight.
She said: “I must have been 22 or 23 when I stopped hitting the town.
“There’s only so many times a random fella can call you a ‘fat cow’ before you give up.”
But, by the summer of 2019, plagued with aches, pains and palpations, it finally hit home that her weight was a real threat to her health.
“I was struggling to move,” she said. “I couldn’t even dance for half a song with Rio in the living room.
“I hadn’t suffered with palpations since my operation a decade before and I was terrified something was going to go wrong again.”
She continued: “I’d wake up and my joints would be in agony.”
So, in September 2019, she joined her local Slimming World group.
A bundle of nerves at her first meeting, she recalled: “It took a lot of courage to go.”
She continued: “I was the biggest person in the room and I just wanted to run out.
“Then one of the ladies turned to me and said she had lost 12 stone since she’d joined.
“I knew in that moment if she could do it, so could I.”
She continued: “I went from being totally overwhelmed by nerves to being full of excitement.
“I can’t describe it, I just knew this was it.”
Swapping sugary cereal and greasy takeaways for healthy porridge and homemade veggie lasagne, in her first two weeks Beth lost half a stone.
With the weight steadily coming off, by Christmas she had lost an impressive two stone and wanted to share the gift of slimming with her dad.
“Dad had tried every fad diet under the sun,” explained Beth. “But after years of losing weight and putting twice as much back on, he’d given up on diets.
“I had to keep nagging him and explaining that Slimming World isn’t a diet – it’s a lifestyle.”
And Beth’s persistence paid off, with Pete signing up to his own local slimming group in January 2020.
“We went to different groups,” Beth explained. “But they were at the same time every week and as soon as we got out we’d have a phone call to discuss the meeting.
“From the get go I could tell Dad was really pleased with how it went.”
She continued: “He dropped more weight than me in his first week – losing an impressive 12lb.”
With their weekly phone calls becoming the norm, the pair were soon swapping recipe ideas, too.
“It really brought us closer than we’d ever been,” said Beth. “We’re still constantly encouraging each other to keep up the good work.”
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She continued: “If one of us is down, we’ll have a chat and remind each other of how far we’ve come.”
Both reaching their target weights by September this year, Beth is now a 14st 10lb size 16 and Pete is 13st 6lb – losing an impressive 12 inches off his waist, which is now 33in.
Beth said: “For the first time in a decade I finally feel comfortable in my own skin.”
She continued: “When Rio asks me to chase him, nothing will beat the look of shock on his face now Mummy can finally keep up.
“Instead of being out of breath after half a song, we can dance in the living room all day long together.
“I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to be the mum that Rio deserves.”
She continued: “I wouldn’t be able to say that if it wasn’t for my amazing dad.”
And Pete, who has lost seven inches off his neckline – going from 22in to 15in – is equally grateful to his daughter.
He said: “Without a shadow of a doubt I would not be here – eight stone lighter – if it wasn’t for Beth.”
She continued: “I’m sure she won’t mind me saying she was an absolute nag, but it paid off.
“I feel 10 years younger.”
You can find your nearest Slimming World group at www.slimmingworld.co.uk or by calling 0344 897 8000.
Please contact your local Consultant to book in before your first Slimming World group and to find out how your local group is running safely in line with national and regional guidance.’