A mum-of-three who was too busy for exercise classes has shed ten stone – by turning her house into a gym.
Gemma Howden, 28, tipped the scales at 19 stone but didn’t have time to exercise as she juggled school runs, cooking and housework.
So she improvised everyday items and tasks to burn calories, such as running up and down the stairs with baked bean tins in her hands.
She would perform sprints up and down her long hallway, vault the stair gate, and perform sit-ups between TV ad breaks in the evening.
The home workouts and a strict diet have helped her slim down to an incredible 8st 13lbs and she now fits into a six eight to ten dress.
Full-time mum Gemma said: “I decided that if I couldn’t go to the gym, the gym could come to me.
“I improvised and used whatever I could get my hands on as equipment.
“Cans of beans from my kitchen cupboard became weights and I would dance around with them to music channels on the television.
“My hallway stretched from the front of the house to the back door and it was soon my running track. I would sprint along it like Jessica Ennis.
“I would also hurdle over the stair gate before dashing up and down the stairs 20 times in a row.
“I began doing 20 star jumps a day but built up to 100 as my fitness levels improved and the flab fell off.
“If I was watching television I would do 15 sit ups at a time during the ad break too.
“It was the answer to all my problems as I could still look after the kids and do the chores I needed to.”
As mum to Summer, six, Coley, four, and Vinnie, two, Gemma could barely spare a second for herself and rarely caught sight of her reflection in the mirror.
But when she did she was mortified.
She said: “I had been in denial about my size. I never realised I had got so big, unfit and unhealthy. In my mind I thought I looked like a size 10.
“I had always been on the larger side. I was wearing a size 16 school uniform.
“But it was when I fell pregnant that I really started piling on the pounds, as I made the most of eating for two.
“When it came to losing the post baby weight, I tried every diet in the book.
“I would manage to shift a couple of stone and then gain it all again. Nothing seemed to work for me.
“But I my bubbly personality used to overshadow any niggles I had about my weight.”
Gemma realised she needed to change when she flicked through the family album and noticed that there were no pictures of her with the children.
She was keen to be an active mum too.
She said: “I didn’t want to be collapsing in a heap huffing and puffing while trying to keep up with my kids or watching them from the side-lines.
“I was desperate to be able to run around and play with them.”
But Gemma, of Lampeter, west Wales, hated the thought of eyes glued to her as she pounded the treadmill.
She said: “I couldn’t think of anything worse than people staring at me as I worked up a sweat.
“I did try to stick to it but giant mirrors positioned on the walls in front of me while I was working out left me feeling even more self-conscious.
“And I needed to be at home to look after the children, so exercising at home made perfect sense.
“No one was watching me become a sweaty mess and it meant I could be flexible and fit in a session after putting them to bed.”
As well as embarking on her new fitness regime, Gemma vowed to ditch the junk food.
She swapped greasy takeaways, bags of crisps and bars of chocolate for salad, fruit and veg.
After breaking her bad habits, she soon started to see results as the pounds slipped away.
In her first week alone she lost an amazing 9lbs and it gave her the motivation she needed to keep going.
She said: “I couldn’t believe I had lost so much in such a short space of time. It was a real boost and helped me to keep at it.
“I dropped a dress size in my first month and people were starting to notice that I was shrinking.
“My little girl asked me: ‘Mummy, where has your fat bum gone?’
“It was the best thing I’d heard in a long time – it was the reason I was doing it in the first place: for my kids.”
And now two years down the line and thanks to her ‘stay-at-home mummy diet’, Gemma weighs a healthy 8st 13lbs and can slip into a slender size 8 with ease.
She has chucked out her tent-sized t-shirts and swapped them for tight-fitting dresses.
Gemma, who lives with partner John Shore, 33, a plumber, said: “When I tell people I lost 10 stone after turning my house into a boot camp they don’t believe it, but it worked and it’s true.”
Weight at her heaviest: 19st
Weight now: 8st 13lbs
Size before: 28
Size after: 8-10
Breakfast: Mars bar and packet of crisps
Mid-morning snack: Rustler burger
Lunch: Pizza and chips
Afternoon snack: Crisps and chocolate bars (up to 20 a day)
Dinner: Greasy fry-up
Evening snacks: Sweets
Breakfast: Fruit and a smoothie
Lunch: Soup or salad
Dinner: White fish and veg or chicken and salad
Snacks: Yoghurt or the occasional packet of Quavers crisps