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Woman Mortified By A Vacation Picture Becomes Firefighter After Losing Nearly 170 Pounds

Woman Mortified By A Vacation Picture Becomes Firefighter After Losing Nearly 170 Pounds
Fran in her fire fighting gear (PA Real Life/Collect)

This awesome woman decided to become a firefighter after struggling with her weight, and learning to embrace her body.

Fran Drake struggled with society's perceptions of a healthy body for much of her life. She remembers who the expectations imposed on women to look a certain way lead to her being bullied in school, cruel classmates even dubbed her "fat Fran."

She struggled with several diets throughout her life until she decided to embrace her own figure.

The holiday photo (PA Real Life/Collect)

Then, everything changed when she was flicking through photos from the trip of a lifetime to Walt Disney World, in April 2016, with her husband Matt, 30 – and was reduced to tears with her image.

From there, Fran decided to change her lifestyle. And, that decision lead her to become a trainee firefighter by embracing the discipline.

Fran after weight loss (PA Real Life/Collect)

“I convinced myself before jetting off to Florida that I'd lost enough weight to finally look good on holiday, when in reality I'd lost a few pounds and was still overweight," Fran said. “Now I'm healthier than ever, I'm finally training with the fire brigade and doing something meaningful with my life for the first time in what feels like forever."

However, she remembers how hurtful other's opinions were when talking about her body.

“Children have a knack for sniffing out your biggest insecurity and making you feel 10 times worse about it," she recalled. “Unfortunately, my weakness wasn't too hard to spot – my weight – and from the age of 11, I was referred to as 'fat Fran' or 'Fatty-esca'."

Fran with Matt (PA Real Life/Collect)

“I grew up in a household where, if something was going wrong, you'd cheer yourself up with something hearty and filling, and that's how I got locked into a vicious cycle," she said about her struggles with food.

However, diets did not help. Over the years, she tried every regime under the sun, from the 5:2 diet, where you fast for two days of the week, to the cabbage soup diet.

The holiday photo (PA Real Life/Collect)

So, she decided instead to alter her mindset and try to accept her body.

“If I couldn't change myself physically, I was going to change myself mentally," said Fran. “Just because you're not a size 8 doesn't mean you can't be happy in yourself."

Fran saw her confidence grow. And in 2011 she started dating Matt after they got talking at a Christmas party.

“Bagging myself a fit man really reinforced the idea that I could be happy in my own skin without losing any weight," she said.

Fran with hubby Matt (PA Real Life/Collect)

“I was never confident when it came to dating before I met Matt," she continued. "I always ended up with men that didn't appreciate me and I thought I didn't deserve any better because of my weight. But the problem was that after settling into a happy relationship and feeling more confident in myself, I started to eat more and more."

Fran with hubby Matt (PA Real Life/Collect)

“On nights out people would whisper, 'She's punching' – like I didn't know that he was in much better shape than me already," she said, talking about Matt.

Fran (PA Real Life/Collect)

Not long after that Fran and Matt decided to relive her Disney vacation. “Florida was amazing too – the trip of a lifetime," she said. But, when looking at the pictures she became concerned for her health.

“I don't know what it was about those particular set of photos, but it suddenly dawned on me that if I didn't change now, my weight was going to kill me," she said.

Fran exercising (PA Real Life/Collect)

“It all finally hit me, and I decided to overhaul my lifestyle there and then," she said.

But this time she focused on healthy living, starting with home-cooked meals.

“I can look back through my wedding day photos and smile at the happy memories without any self-loathing," she said.

Fran (PA Real Life/Collect)

She also decided to be stronger by hitting the gym. Able to do things she never thought possible, from training in the gym to going on country walks with Matt, Fran found herself wanting to put her newfound fitness to use.

“I'd always admired firefighters and growing up I thought it would be ace to work as one, but because of my weight the idea soon fell off my radar," she said. “But after the weight began to come off, I decided to make that my goal – to become a trained firefighter."

Fran exercising (PA Real Life/Collect)

After a grueling eight weeks of training, Fran found out she had passed the Dorset and Wiltshire fire service test in May this year and will be spending the next two years working on the job to become a fully-fledged firefighter.

“It was pretty intense getting this far. I had to haul equipment weighing up to 40kg (around 88 lbs) and was taking part in a bleep tests – something I thought I'd left behind in my school days," she continued. “It's all been worth it though, and I feel like after almost 20 years of being nothing more than the fat girl, I'm finally going to be giving something back to the community and keeping fit at the same time."