She couldn’t bend down to tie up her shoes
It was only when her friends uploaded photos of her online that Olivia knew her weight gain had gone too far.
Second year Olivia Powell, 20, arrived at uni and her lifestyle drastically changed –– she stopped doing sport and started going out and eating takeaways regularly, putting on five stone in just one term.
At her worst, she could barely walk to lectures without getting out of breath and stopped buying lace-up shoes because she couldn’t bend down to tie them up.
Six months on, Olivia has finally shed the weight after a gruelling health programme.
We chatted to Olivia, who does Biological Sciences at Reading, about her experience.
She told The Tab: “Since going to uni I’d put on five stone. I came back home looking at myself knowing I’d changed. I was ashamed.
“I knew I needed to do something. I was having lots of side effects from being overweight.
“I stopped buying lace-up shoes because I couldn’t bend down to tie them up.
“I was tired and moody all the time. I lived down the hill from uni so I wouldn’t ever want to go up the hill to lectures because I would get out of breath.
“I wouldn’t be able to hold a conversation with anyone on that walk because I’d be out of breath. It was rough.
“I stopped going out and just sat sad in the house, moping. That was something which tipped me over to make me lose weight.”
At her lowest, Olivia began eating secretly in her room.
“At one point during term, I was going out regularly. Alcohol’s the worst but after going out, everyone wants to order pizza or go for fish and chips, whatever was open.
“I live around the corner from Tesco Express. I would go and get a midnight feast: muffins, crisps, cakes, fizzy drinks –– as much as I could get my hands on.
“It would be the same things over and over again, whatever I could bring back.
“I put on two and half stone in a month and I was just being a normal uni student –– I was doing anything different, except the secret binging.
“But everyone’s different when it comes to diet, you just have to deal with your situation as it comes.”
Brave Olivia was convinced to put herself back on track when she saw photos of herself uploaded to Facebook.
“When you look in the mirror you don’t see it because your weight gain is gradual.
“Photos taken from the front or taken when you’re not ready –– suddenly you see what they see.
“When I saw the pictures, I knew my weight gain was bad but not that bad. I didn’t want to look at them.”
When she came home over the Christmas break, Olivia joined an online slimming club to try to shift the weight.
“I’ve been a bit of a yo-yoer but I thought, ‘I’m never going to get like that again’.
“I lost six pounds in one week –– it was a big wake up call to realise I could do this. If I hadn’t lost weight I would have given up.
“It was the best feeling. Getting complements from people, even the boys I live with.
“Guys don’t usually say things about weight but this gave me a huge confidence boost.”
Breakfast: sugary cereal, white bread toast covered in butter and jam
Snacks: Chocolate muffin and a bag of crisps on the way to campus for lectures
Lunch: Chicken sandwich filled with mayonnaise and butter with a fizzy drink and chocolate bar
Afternoon snacks: Jaffa cakes, biscuits and more chocolate
Dinner: Pizza or a takeaway
Breakfast: Scrambled egg on wholemeal toast or cereal with fruit
Lunch: Omelette packed with veg or a jacket potato with tuna and sweetcorn, with extra veg on the side
Dinner: Mince-stuffed roast peppers or pesto salmon with lots of veg
Olivia says healthy living hasn’t sucked the fun out of everything.
“You can still have your favourite meals, you just have to tweak a few things. You just have to be careful.
“I can still drink and go out and have a good time. Vodka Diet Coke or Malibu Diet Coke is my favourite. Spirit mixers are better than beers and ciders, which have much more sugar.
She adds a final message about losing weight.
“Don’t do it for anybody else, you have to do it to yourself. I’m proof of that, I lost five stone.”
For more information on Slimming World or to find your nearest group, go here.