People don’t recognise me after 8st weight loss – but I have a huge regret’

Sticking her head out of the hotel room window, Jayne Johnson felt as though she was suffocating as she struggled to catch her breath.

After years of calorific takeaways and chocolate binges, bridal hairdresser Jayne was 21 stone, the heaviest she had ever been.

With a BMI of 51, and a size 26, the extra weight was making her seriously ill and when styling a client’s hair left her gasping for breath, she knew something was terribly wrong.

Grazing on junk food between appointments and eating takeaways five times a week meant she was getting through 3,000 calories a day.

It wasn’t until Jayne got a pain in her leg that doctors discovered her lungs were in fact riddled with blood clots. It was the shock wake-up call she needed to finally slim down.

Now, just over a year on from her health scare, Jayne, 47, has lost 8st 4lb, dropped seven dress sizes and says she is lucky to be alive.

The mum of four grown up children, who lives in Cromer, Norwich, with husband Patrick, 49, says: “I’ve tried all sorts of different diets over the years but each time I lost weight, I put it all back on again and more.

“Chocolate was my biggest weakness, and I had no portion control. I got through two litres of fizzy pop a day which made me even hungrier.

“People told me I wore nice clothes for a big girl or that I was lucky I had a fat face because it meant I didn’t have wrinkles.

“Although I smiled and tried to shrug it off, the comments hurt.”

In July 2018 Jayne had just got back from a holiday to Crete when she got stabbing pains her left leg.

When it became so painful she struggled to walk, she was referred an orthopaedic consultant.

“A couple of days later, I was gasping for breath, so Patrick drove me to hospital,” explains Jayne.

A CT scan found a Deep Vein Thrombosis in her leg had travelled to both her lungs and they were full of blood clots (Pulmonary embolisms) which explained why she was breathless.

Jayne was given blood thinners and told to rest but being stuck at home all day meant she turned to food.

She said: “Even though I was massively overweight, I still couldn’t stop myself eating through boredom.

“Over the next few months, I piled on more weight and at my heaviest, I was up to 21 stone. I couldn’t get through a bride’s hair without stopping to stick my head out of the window for air.

“I was constantly in and out of hospital needing oxygen.”

Jayne’s health went from bad to worse and after having a TIA – a mini stroke – she was diagnosed with sleep apnoea, a condition linked to obesity.

She said: “I woke up one day with muddled speech and I’d lost feeling on one side. Then I began waking up in the night choking. I had to wear a mask to regulate my breathing which was very uncomfortable.

“Despite everything, I was in denial. Even though I was very poorly I tried to convince myself my health issues had nothing to do with my size.”

It was in July last year when a doctor told Jayne she was risking her life because she was so overweight.

Jayne explained: “It got so bad it felt like my chest was caving in. The consultant explained how my weight was killing me and if I didn’t do something, I would die.

“It was hard to hear, but I knew I couldn’t carry on.”

Last October, Jayne signed up with the Cambridge Weight Plan and swapped takeaways and chocolate for 200-calorie soups, smoothies and snack bars.

She managed to lose 17lb in the first week.

Jayne said: “I was on a strict diet of 800 calories a day but I stuck at it because I wanted quick results. It was tough at first but as the pounds came off, it motivated me to keep going.

“I lost 5st in 12 weeks and as my weight dropped, my breathing felt easier and my energy slowly returned.”

Now Jayne weighs 12st 12lbs, has shed 67 inches and is a curvy size 12.

She said: “I feel incredible and I when I look back on photos, I can’t believe it’s the same woman.

“The clots on my lungs have gone and my sleep apnoea is cured. Patrick says it’s like having a new wife and I love swapping clothes with my 20-year-old twin daughters Katie and Sophie.

“I’ve had Facebook messages from women telling me how much I inspire them, so I’ve now become a CWP consultant. Whether people come to wanting to lose one stone or ten, I’m passionate about helping them achieve their goals.

“I’ve swapped cocktails for mocktails, fizzy drinks for flavoured water and I cut my daily chocolate treat into small cubes, so they last longer.

“I’m healthier and happier than I’ve ever been. My only regret is not doing it sooner.”