When Anabel Bonner walked down the aisle she felt more beautiful than she could ever imagine.
“When my partner proposed I was a size 22 and weighed nearly 17 stone,” recalls Anabel from Hull, who turned 30 last Monday.
“There was no way I was going to be that size at my wedding and his proposal gave me the push I needed to lose weight.
“I didn’t want to wear a big meringue I wanted a tight-fitting fishtail dress and so I knew I had to take action.”
Anabel had been to the slimming group Weight Watchers before, but had ended up going back to her bad habits.
“I was always a big girl,” says the mum of one who admits to finding comfort in food.
“We moved to Yorkshire from London when I was ten years old, when my parents got divorced. We lived with my grandparents and my grandma was of the old fashioned way of thinking, that you had to eat everything on your plate and she gave us big Yorkshire portions.
“I had always been a comfort eater, but I’d been quite sporty in London, but when we moved north I stopped doing sport and just put on weight.”
By the time she was 16 Anabel weighed 16 stone and was clinically obese and it had started to affect her emotionally.
“I didn’t go out socialising like other teenagers my age. I felt horrible although on the outside I was always bubbly and popular, but inside I knew I looked awful.
“It was then that I joined Weight Watchers and I managed to lose two to three stone, but when I was 17 I met my other half and I suppose I just got comfortable and started eating the way I had before and the weight piled on again.”
But when Andy proposed in 2009 it gave Anabel the wake up call she needed.
“There was no way I was going to be a size-22 bride in my dress,” says Anabel.
“I joined Weight Watchers the following week and was mortified that I was almost 17st.
“My wedding was a real motivation, but as the pounds fell off I learned more than how to cook meals from scratch – I realised I needed to put myself first and look after my emotional health too. Rather than comfort eating, mindlessly reaching for chocolate to make myself feel better, I learned to take a few minutes out to relax and enjoy being in the moment instead.”
Over the next two years Anabel lost an incredible six stone and they set a date for their wedding.
“In the end we ended up have just six months to plan the wedding and so I had to get a dress off the shelf.”
As she is big-busted Anabel opted for a size 14 which she had taken in.
“It was the first dress I tried on,” she says. “I tried on lots of others but I went back to the first one. It just zipped up.
“I turned round and my mum and grandma were crying because I’d achieved what I’d set out to do. Before my wedding I set myself a goal to lose 100lbs and nothing was going to stop me. Fitting into my size-14 gown on my wedding day was the best feeling ever. I felt absolutely beautiful and, as I walked down the aisle, I realised how far I’d come. I didn’t do it for anyone else other than me. Andy has always supported me whatever I decided, and he’s known and loved me at my biggest, it was for me that I needed to lose the weight.”
Anabel says it is keeping the weight off that is now her challenge. “When I first reached goal, I skipped a few meetings and put back on a stone,” she admits.
“So now I always attend – I’ve discovered 80 per cent of success is simply about turning up. If you’ve had a bad week, it’s natural to want to try to get back onto the plan yourself, but meetings help you refocus your mind and start afresh. There is always someone there to support you.”
Anabel and Andy now have two year old daughter Ruby.
Anabel put on three stone when she was expecting Ruby and was worried she may struggle to lose the weight after having her.
“When Ruby was six months old I went back to Weight Watchers and within a few months I was back at my target weight. I feel so much better. I can run around after my daughter which I would have struggled to do before I lost the weight especially as she is so active. And I am catching up on a lot of things I missed out when I was a teenager, such as going out and socialising and just enjoying looking good in clothes.
“For me, staying positive is the most important factor on any weight loss journey. I always repeat the mantra: ‘Your head has to be in the right place first’,” says Anabel who now weighs 10st and is a size 10 to 12.
She said although she joined a gym she rarely went, her she gets her exercise from walking her two beloved pugs.
“I have two pugs, Alfie and Ming, and taking them out for walks is my ‘me time’. Even if it’s for 10 or 15 minutes a day, getting out in the fresh air gives me a chance to wind down from the day and gives me a bit of headspace. It’s so important to look after your mind as well as your body on your weight-loss journey.”
Now Anabel’s story has been turned into an online film to help other people wanting to lose weight
Weight Watchers commissioned the documentary film to follow four members, including Anabel, who have collectively lost 315lbs, and documents each of their “yes” moments – when they achieved their target weight and met the goals they set out for themselves.
To see Anabel star in the Weight Watchers YES film and for more information about Weight Watchers, visit www.weightwatchers.com/uk/success-stories.
“Each person I filmed has been able to reach their goal weight, and in some cases completely transform their appearance,” says BAFTA nominated film-maker Gary Tarn. “But what I was more interested in showing was how success is often measured in ways we might not expect – for example, fitting into that dream wedding dress, or being happy to look at oneself in the mirror – rather than simply by the numbers on a scale, and so the film focuses on those moments. I hope these stories will resonate and inspire others.”