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A grandmother who was unable to walk without a frame has shed an impressive 18 stone in six years thanks to a ‘caveman diet’ of vegetables and meat – and is now a bodybuilder.
Dee Hodgson, 53, from Willenhall, West Midlands, tipped the scales at 28 stone 11 lbs and struggled to squeeze into a size 34 following years of emotional eating.
Her size left her in constant agony and doctors suspected she was suffering from fibromyalgia – a long-term condition that which causes widespread and increased sensitivity to pain, along with muscle stiffness, difficulty sleeping and headaches.
The grandmother-of-eight eventually realised she needed to make a lifestyle change and embarked in 2016 on a ‘caveman diet’ – eating only ‘natural’ foods like fresh vegetables and high protein meats with little fat.
Within six months, Dee lost six stone – without setting foot in a gym – and after a year, she was 12 stone down and joined her local fitness centre where she found a passion for classes and working out.
Now a trim size 10-12 and 11st 11lbs, Dee has lost a whopping 18st, ‘feels like a new woman’ and is a bodybuilder – having had two stone of saggy skin cut off through two different surgeries.
Dee Hodgson, 53, from Willenhall, West Midlands, tipped the scales at 28 stone 11 lbs and struggled to squeeze into a size 34 following years of emotional eating (pictured left). Pictured right, Dee after her weight loss
Now a trim size 10-12 and 11st 11lbs, Dee (pictured) has lost a whopping 18st, ‘feels like a new woman’ and is a bodybuilder – having had two stone of saggy skin cut off through two different surgeries
Single mother-of-four Dee, a mental health peer recovery worker, recalled: ‘My weight got out of control. At first, I wasn’t dieting to lose weight, I just wanted to feel better and to help ease the symptoms of my health conditions.
‘But the pounds quickly fell off me and it gave me the motivation to keep going. I started going to the gym and fell in love with working out. Then I tried my hand at bodybuilding – and absolutely loved it.
‘Now I’ve lost 18st, I feel like a completely different person. I have so much more energy, I’m so much happier – it’s completely changed my life.’
She continued: ‘I did a lot of classes to start with, but when I started working with a personal trainer, I developed a passion for weights. He introduced me to weightlifting and that was the start of my bodybuilding journey.
‘I’ve done a couple of dance competitions to raise money for charity, and I’m competing in a body building competition in November in High Wycombe. I’m in the transformation class, so it’s all about the journey.
‘They will show a “before” picture before I come out on stage. It’s about showcasing the way you’ve built your body. I’m petrified but really excited! I’ve always had body image issues but this is all part of my recovery.
Her previous size (pictured) left her in constant agony and doctors suspected she was suffering from fibromyalgia – a long-term condition that which causes widespread and increased sensitivity to pain, along with muscle stiffness, difficulty sleeping and headaches
The grandmother-of-eight (pictured recently) eventually realised she needed to make a lifestyle change and embarked in 2016 on a ‘caveman diet’ – eating only ‘natural’ foods like fresh vegetables and high protein meats with little fat
Within six months, Dee (pictured) lost six stone – without setting foot in a gym – and after a year, she was 12 stone down and joined her local fitness centre where she found a passion for classes and working out
‘It’s so far out of my comfort zone, I’ll be out in a tiny bikini with all my scars and loose skin on show, but I hope that it will inspire others.’
Dee’s weight problems left her struggling with several health conditions – including type two diabetes. She was on 20 different types of medication for her physical and mental health.
Her diet consisted of processed food, and hearty family meals such as pastas or pizzas, and she hadn’t exercised in years – barely able to move without the aid of a walking frame.
She said: ‘My lack of mobility was so limiting. I was in pain all the time. I thought I was happy but I look back now and I realise I was depressed and in pain.
‘My life was very limited and I was very dependent on people which was hard as I’m very independent. It was embarrassing for me.’
Dee’s weight problems left her struggling with several health conditions – including type two diabetes. She was on 20 different types of medication for her physical and mental health. Pictured right, Dee before surgery
In 2016, Dee (pictured after her weight loss) realised she had to make a change to avoid eating herself to an early grave
In 2016, Dee realised she had to make a change to avoid eating herself to an early grave.
After Googling fibromyalgia she found that processed foods, additives, and preservatives may exacerbate her symptoms.
Dee decided to cut out these foods and opted to follow a ‘caveman diet’ – only eating natural foods, including eggs and vegetables.
She said: ‘My new diet was very basic and that made it easier to stick to. I didn’t have to think because I’d limited my choices.
‘The more choices you have, the more slip ups you’ll have. I’ve continued with the meal planning now and will freeze batches of food so that it’s easy for myself.
Dee pictured after her surgery. She said: ‘I had to make dramatic changes to my lifestyle and undergo two surgeries to get rid of two stone of excess skin that I had after I lost a lot of weight very quickly.’
Breakfast – Cereal or toast
Lunch – Graze through the day on sandwiches, cakes, or whatever was convenient
Dinner – Hearty family meal like rich cheesy pasta, pizzas etc.
Snacks – Crisps, biscuits, cakes
Drinks – Loads of creamy coffee
Breakfast – Protein smoothie, egg white omelette with chicken or fish
Lunch – Green salad with chicken sausage, yogurt
Dinner – Turkey Bolognese
Snacks – Cereal bar, rice cakes
Drinks – Black coffee, lots of water, protein powder in water (like squash)
‘I didn’t notice the weight loss at first, but when I hit six stone down, I realised that it was working and I might as well keep going.
‘People were noticing the difference and I was feeling more mobile and healthier, and I realised that a different life really was achievable. ‘
Within six months, Dee lost six stone and one year in she had lost 12 stone. The confidence that Dee gained from losing weight inspired her to join a gym – where she found a new passion for working out.
WHAT IS FIBROMYALGIA?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition defined by widespread pain and fatigue.
It affects up to 2.7 per cent of people worldwide, with three women suffering for every one man, studies suggest.
Fibromyalgia is often triggered by a trauma, such as a car accident or childbirth, as well as infections. Why this occurs is unclear.
The discomfort tends to be felt as aches and burning from head-to-toe.
And the fatigue ranges from feeling sleepy to the exhaustion of having the flu.
Severe sufferers are often unable to work or socialise.
The pain can be worse at some times than others and may change location, such as becoming more severe in parts of the body that are used the most.
Other symptoms can include headaches; IBS; diarrhoea or constipation; poor concentration; dizziness; allergies and stimuli sensitivity, such as to light or heat.
Studies suggest the average patient waits five years to be diagnosed, which is thought to be due to X-rays and other medical tests not picking the condition up.
It is generally defined as pain that lasts for more than three months and affects 11 or more out of 18 tender points when pressed.
Treatment aims to relieve pain and aid sleep.
Source: Fibromyalgia Action UK
Dee said: ‘I started with an induction at the gym, and he talked me through the equipment and rules of the gym.
‘My go-to was the bike at first, and then I was shown how to use weights. I remember looking around and thinking I didn’t belong, and I was so worried that people were judging me. But they really weren’t and I soon found my groove.
‘My family would say that I’m now obsessed with the gym, but I just love working out and setting myself new goals and challenges to strive towards.
‘It’s been so beneficial to my mental health, but I’ve also seen such dramatic changes to my appearance – I barely recognise myself.
‘My personal trainer, Josh Bothwell, has helped me more than I could ever say, and the friends I’ve made at Warriors World gym in Coventry have been integral to my journey.’
Dee’s newfound love for the gym quickly yielded results and she can now leg press 335kg, deadlift 80kg and bench press 46kg.
She is now being coached by Lisa Morrison, a UKUP/WUP pro athlete. She also trains at Simply Gym, Earl Place, Coventry.
Dee said: ‘My son, Will, 33, told me that he feared he would soon have to tell his children, my grandchildren, that I had died – that’s how bad my health had got.
‘My body was collapsing because I was obese, and once I lost the weight, I wasn’t in pain anymore.
‘I remember about a year into my journey, I was playing tag with my eldest granddaughter, and she turned around and said: “Nanny, I didn’t know that you can run.” And it’s moments like that, that make it all worthwhile.
‘Losing weight can be incredibly difficult, but I remember why I’m doing it and it keeps me motivated. Bodybuilding has changed my life and I don’t use that phrase lightly. I now look at myself with pride.
‘I’ve gone from hating my reflection to really liking the person looking back at me. I finally feel proud of my body.’ Dee said.
‘I had to make dramatic changes to my lifestyle and undergo two surgeries to get rid of two stone of excess skin that I had after I lost a lot of weight very quickly.
‘It’s been a really challenging and emotional journey but it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m taking back the years that were stolen from me and owning my future.’