- Michelle Bird, 34, from Cambridgeshire, dropped from 13st to 8st 7 lb
- Paired holistic exercise with breathing techniques and healthy eating
- She has now qualified to teach kettlebell classes and give nutritional advice
- Size six Michelle works as a fitness instructor at her business, Bodymode
Deni Kirkova for MailOnline
An obese woman whose anxiety led to alarming weight gain dropped six dress sizes after she learned to control her stress through yoga and pilates instead.
Michelle Bird, 34, from Chatteris in Cambridgeshire, dropped from 13 stone to 8st 7lb in just two years after doctors said that she was on the verge of developing type two diabetes.
She now manages her stress by taking part in regular holistic exercises.
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Michelle at her heaviest in 2004, weighing almost 13 stone (l) and pictured training after losing weight (r)
Michelle learned to manage her stress through regular holistic exercises paired with breathing techniques
Michelle pairs this with healthy eating and breathing techniques, which helped her adopt a healthy mental attitude.
The former sales assistant, who lives alone, says the roots of her weight gain lay in anxiety disorders, such as agoraphobia and claustrophobia.
She felt forced to lock herself away at home and ended up excessively indulging in fattening, comforting snacks. But Michelle has turned her life around and is now a fitness instructor.
She said: ‘When I was 21 I became ill and had developed panic attacks which I discovered were due to agoraphobia.
Michelle says the roots of her weight gain lay in anxiety disorders, such as agoraphobia and claustrophobia
‘I’d moved to Cambridgeshire from Grantham and was quite lonely at that point. I was in a town without any family. I ate constantly most of the time to try and make myself feel better.’
Michelle, who at her largest wore size 18 clothes, said eating became a distraction from her loneliness.
She said: ‘I would typically have a whole 12-inch pizza to myself. I used to buy a massive family size Galaxy bar and eat the whole thing.
‘I was by nature an outgoing person – I’d participated in sport at school, but the agoraphobia took that away.’
At 24, Michelle was told by healthcare professionals that she was clinically obese and if she continued to put on weight she would eventually develop type two diabetes.
She said: ‘I was starting to feel fat. Before then I had never looked at myself in the mirror and seen a fat person. After the doctors appointment, that’s all I saw.’
Michelle was referred to Weight Watchers where she found the spark she needed to turn her weight problems around.
Michelle’s diet before
Breakfast: Three pieces of toast
Lunch: Tuna pasta with chips and mayonnaise
Dinner: A 12-inch takeaway pizza
Snacks: Fattening food such as family size Galaxy bar
Michelle’s diet after
Lunch: Tuna salad with sweet potato and red peppers
Dinner: Noodles with chicken and prawns for her evening meal.
She felt forced to lock herself away at home and excessively indulge in fattening, comforting snacks
She said: ‘I had never dieted before so I didn’t know where to start. They put me on a scale, and it was a massive shock. to see the state I had gotten myself into.’
Michelle was encouraged to stop smoking and began exercising regularly.
‘I looked for local fitness centres in the area and there were Pilates classes running at the town hall and the they got me hooked,’ she says.
‘I felt invigorated after every class and kept coming back for more. That was the start of it.’
‘When you’ve locked yourself away and feel down you grab the nearest thing that will make you feel better – for me that was food. I was exhausted from the panic attacks and began to eat huge amounts of sugar to keep my energy up. I also drank alcohol every weekend to distract myself from my anxiety. It was a way for my brain to deal with the stress.’
‘I changed my outlook because it turned that locking myself away just caused my anxiety’s to grow. The classes were a great first step.’
‘As well as helping me to gain a healthy body, the breathing techniques I learnt helped me to gain a healthy mind and outlook also.’
She added: ‘Losing weight began to make me feel more confident and I stopped having the panic attacks.’
Before losing weight, Michelle typically ate three pieces of toast in the morning, tuna pasta with chips and mayonnaise for lunch, and a takeaway pizza for her evening meal.
Today, she typically eats porridge for breakfast, followed by tuna salad with sweet potato and red peppers for lunch, with noodles with chicken and prawns for her evening meal.
After joining Weight Watchers she was encouraged to stop smoking and began exercising regularly
Size six Michelle now has qualifications to teach kettlebell classes and give nutritional advice
Michelle’s new-found healthy outlook encouraged her to make fitness the focus of her life.
She said: ‘A friend of mine joked I should become a fitness instructor – so I did.’
Michelle, who now wears size six clothing, has now gained qualifications to teach kettlebell classes and give nutritional advice.
She now runs and teaches fitness classes at her own Cambridgeshire-based business named Bodymode.
Michelle said: ‘The work is rewarding and makes me feel good. It definitely dealt with the stress.’
There are more than three million people above the age of 16 suffering from diabetes, the onset of which is often weight-related, in the UK.
The NHS advises that regular exercise reduces the risk of mental health issues, including stress, by up to 30 per cent.
Michelle’s new-found healthy outlook encouraged her to make fitness the focus of her life
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