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Size 20 Wellness Adviser Lost So Much Weight That Even Her Own Parents Didn't Recognize Her

Anna after her weight loss (PA Real Life/Courthouse Clinics)

A size 20 (U.S. size 16) wellness adviser felt so hypocritical telling clients how to stay healthy that she shed 126 lbs in nine months using her clinic's weight loss program – changing so much that her parents failed to recognize her.


Athletic as a teenager, Anna Velesiotou, 39, said her weight began to balloon when she landed a desk job around eight years ago – falling into bad habits, like scoffing sweets as she worked and downing double portions at dinner time.

An irregular lifestyle with longer hours – plus more time spent commuting – combined with a poor diet, soon meant that, at 5ft 2in, Greek-born Anna, who lives in Wilmslow, Cheshire, England, began piling on the weight – reaching 280 lbs.

Anna after the weight loss (PA REAL LIFE/COURTHOUSE CLINICS)

Now weighing a far healthier 154 lbs and wearing a dress size 10 to 12 (US size 6 to 8), she said: “I was always slim and athletic, then about eight years ago I started gaining weight.

“I was working a lot of overtime, commuting for about two hours a day and was always bringing sweets into the office to offer to everyone.

“Quite often I'd end up fasting in the day, then in the evening I'd sit in front of the television not caring what I was eating."

Anna after the weight loss (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)

She continued: “I was eating double portions and I'd stopped working out, because I didn't have time.

“Little by little my weight crept up. I was a size 10 to 12 and went up to a size 20. I put on about 10 stone (140 lbs) in a period of eight years.

“It was a vicious circle, because I felt depressed about my weight, then I ended up eating because I felt depressed."

Anna's Diet Before

  • Breakfast: a black coffee
  • Lunch: a sandwich
  • Dinner: vegetables with a big portion of rice and some sort of meat

“I didn't go out very much and was never really into shopping, so I would just wear my work uniform and didn't really realize how much I'd ballooned," Anna explained.

“I was not happy, but I'd always make a joke out of it, saying things like, 'Whoever saw a happy athletic person.'"

With a body mass index (BMI) – used to gauge a healthy weight – of 52, compared to the NHS recommended level of between 18.5 and 25, Anna was classified as obese.

Anna before the weight loss (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)

Then, three years ago, after landing a job as an adviser at the Courthouse Clinic in Wilmslow, which offers aesthetic and wellbeing treatments, part of her role was to run a weight loss program.

Called MediWeight, it is a medically supervised weight loss and lifestyle program, which puts the body into ketosis, a state where it breaks down fat stores and uses them for energy.

The irony of being fatter than many of the people she was trying to help was not lost on Anna, who said: “I thought, 'I have got to practice what I preach.'"

Anna during the weight loss (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)

Anna explained: “You work out a plan with a doctor and they supervise you throughout the process and ensure you are getting the right vitamins.

“I cut out carbohydrates, sugar and fat. I was having five small meals a day and a lot of vegetables. It was very tough, but I quickly saw results which made me keep going.

“The weight started to fall off and in the first week I lost half a stone (7 lbs)."

“Within three or four months, I was shopping for new clothes which were four sizes smaller. I did not realize how much I was changing," Anna recalled.

“By the end of November, I was a size 12 (US size 8). I was completely shocked. I started it at the end of May last year and by March I had lost nine stone (126 lbs). I was losing a stone (14 lbs) a month.

“People were so shocked when they saw me. My work colleagues had taken before and after pictures and showed them to me. I couldn't believe the difference."

Anna after the weight loss (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)

She added: “I became a lot more sociable and would go out with them more, but when it came to finding clothes I realized nothing in my wardrobe fit me anymore."

It was when she went back to Greece over the summer that Anna realized just how much she had changed, when her parents came to pick her up from the airport and did not recognize her.

She recalled: “They stood right next to me and didn't recognize me."

Anna after the weight loss (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)

“They only realized it was me when I started to speak to them. Even then they were staring at me, because they could recognize their daughter's voice but not her body," she explained.

“They were very proud and supportive. My dad made sure we went for long walks to keep up the exercise and they got rid of temptations in the home and we ate a healthy, Mediterranean diet, like we did when I was a child.

“While there I also tried a dress on that I used to wear when I was 19 and it fit me."

Anna before the weight loss (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)

Anna added: “It was the most amazing feeling."

After being signed off from the weight loss program in March, for the first time Anna, who is single, bought a full length mirror.

“I was so shocked when I looked in it, I started crying because I just could not recognize myself," she said.

Anna's diet now

  • Breakfast: 30g of porridge or egg white's omelette.
  • Mid-day snack: 50g of berries
  • Lunch: seasonal salad with fish
  • Snack: a handful of nuts or a small seasonal fruit
  • Dinner: steamed vegetables with 100g of meat or fish and a salad

“My confidence has massively improved. I love going to a store and actually buying a dress now," she added.

“I actually went to a shop that I used to go to when I was big and they would always tell me there was nothing in my size. This time, though, they brought out a dress, but it was too big and they had to fetch me a smaller size. It made me feel so good."

As well as overhauling her diet, Anna has also become more active.

She walks to and from work every day – a total of six and a half miles – and goes hiking at the weekends, come rain or shine, as well as doing aerobic exercises using YouTube videos a couple of times a week.

Anna after the weight loss (PA REAL LIFE/COURTHOUSE CLINICS)

“It really is a case of changing your habits and I now eat healthily, making sure I have three meals a day," she said.

“If I go out for meals I will look for the healthier option, but I will still treat myself and have a dessert or some sweets now and again.

“If you don't have them as often you feel like you really deserve them when you do."

Anna after the weight loss (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)

“I think my main problem was portion sizes. Now my portions are smaller and I eat using children's cutlery, so I have less on my fork and I never eat in front of the television but concentrate on what I eat so I feel fuller faster," Anna added.

“I rediscovered myself. I am feeling happy and full of energy and I don't feel shy anymore. I've started socializing and enjoying life again."

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