A couple who ate four takeaways a week and went to the chocolate shop as an exercise have lost nearly seven stones in four months – and now run 3 miles a week together.
Life coaches Abigail Pugh (46) – also a classically trained cook – and Kevin Davidson (51) indulged their love of food and drink after an online meeting in 2014.
When the first lockdown for Covid-19 was announced in March 2020, they started eating takeaway pizza and burgers four nights a week and classified a walk to the store on a chocolate run with their miniature dachshund, Rudy, as a daily exercise.
Abigail had won a rock in the month leading up to her birthday on May 13th and was a 16th size 18 with a body mass index (BMI) of 35.9 – compared to the healthy NHS range of 18.5 to 24.9.
She said, “I’m a really visible, confident woman who talks about self-love and empowerment on big stages, but still I was there, stuffing myself full of cakes, takeaways and chocolate.”
As a self-confessed yo-yo dieter, she had changed jobs a few years earlier due to a heart problem. However, she realized that her lifestyle needed to be addressed.
She was on the Cambridge Weight Plan 1: 1 diet, where people work with a counselor to help achieve her goals, and lost a stone in a week.
Wanting to support his partner, Kevin realized that at 5 feet 9 inches and weighing 14 pounds with a 36 inches waist, his own BMI was 29.1, which made him overweight.
He joined her two weeks later, and by September he was 11 to 12 pounds, with a healthy BMI of 24.5, while Abigail was 11 to 7 pounds for a size 10.
Marveled at her combined weight loss of 6 to 10 pounds in just four months, Abigail said, “It’s been a journey of self-love and self-care – and now, with the support of Kevin, I finally see myself as a lean person. ”
“The food has always controlled me. I thought it gave me love, but then I realized it wasn’t – I had to give love to myself.
“Now I see food as fuel. Don’t get me wrong, once the lockdowns are over I’ll be back in restaurants, but now I have a very different relationship with food. “
Abigail, who has since lost another half a stone and now has a healthy BMI of 24.8, has had body image issues since childhood.
A loved one joked that by the age of six she had “footballer legs” and, although no harm was intended, she grew up thinking of herself as “tall” despite being of average weight.
When she was 12 she started dieting – following in her mother’s footsteps.
She said, “My mom, who passed away in 2018, was on these crazy diets. Once she only ate Farley’s rusks and drank milky coffee for two weeks.
“I can’t remember a time when I was neither on a diet nor on a diet and ate what I wanted.”
“One of the diets that caught my eye was the grapefruit diet. When I was young we ate a lot of grapefruit – in the 80s it was just the thing, a lot of women did it.”
Abigail was a vacation sales rep in Europe in her twenties. Because of her fast-paced lifestyle and smoking, Abigail stayed between 12 and 14 years old.
But for the past decade, her weight wasn’t her only problem, as she was hospitalized nine years ago at a band reunion concert in Sheffield in the 1990s, where tests later showed she’d lived with a hole in her heart from birth .
She said, “My heart had been beating all day and I felt sweaty and uncomfortable. At 9 p.m. I told my friends that I would speak to the paramedics at the concert to see if they could give me paracetamol.
“One of them took my blood pressure and told me I would go straight to the hospital. My heart should beat 70 times a minute, but it was 220. “
When the doctors discovered the hole, they gave her the opportunity to close it by cauterizing her heart tissue in an hour-long surgery.
She said, “I didn’t want them to operate. It was scary to admit to myself that I had this problem, so I just thought,” I’m fine, I’ll move on. “
After that incident, she met Kevin, who was an account manager for a water and coffee company, online in November 2014 and they had their first date at TGI Friday’s.
Soon they were eating out several nights a week.
But in 2015, Abigail had a “terrible experience” with a 48-hour third attack of palpitations.
Living with Kevin in Brighton, East Sussex, she chose the surgery she had been offered to close the hole in her heart at the city’s Royal Sussex County Hospital shortly thereafter.
The whole ordeal made her realize that she needed to make serious changes in her life.
So she quit smoking, left her job in the business travel industry and started abigailrebecca.com in 2016 – a personal styling company that she has now expanded to provide life coaching for working women under the Illuminated Leaders brand.
While traveling around the world at conferences and giving motivational speeches, she admitted that she ignored her own problems and that her weight was increasing.
In September 2019, at the Microbiome Medicine Conference in San Francisco, USA, Abigail remembered huddling in a size 16 dress that threatened to break open at any moment during her speech.
She said, “It was supposed to be a wrap dress, but it didn’t really wrap anymore because I had gained so much weight.
“I thought, ‘Oh my god, you’re the most unhealthy person in the room. “Since the penny fell, I had to do something about it.”
But she indulged herself until just before her birthday in May, during the first lockdown, as she struggled to find clothes suitable for a socially distant stroll with a buddy.
She had paid lip service to the 1: 1 diet in 2010, but this time she decided to devote herself fully to the program.
She lost a stone in a week following the plan of eating three meal replacements – like bars and shakes – a day and drinking three liters of water. She was delighted.
Instead of cooking creamy pasta dishes, she and Kevin, who joined the diet a fortnight later, do three 5K runs a week together.
The couple, who live near Lewes, East Sussex, even squeezed themselves between locks on a trip to Cannes in the south of France last September to showcase their new numbers.
Abigail, who also started yoga and has become a one-to-one diet consultant with Kevin, said, “It felt amazing to be able to wear the clothes I always wanted to wear on vacation and myself Bikini to feel comfortable on the beach.
“While it was a smart selfie before, this time around I got Kev to take lots of full-length photos of myself.”
Kevin, who started his own life coaching company malemastery.online in 2015, is also delighted with his slim build and lowered blood pressure.
He said, “It is the first time in my life that I have been on a diet and I was amazed at how quickly the weight was losing, which encouraged me to keep going.
“I was active, but I never considered myself overweight until I lost weight. Now I get up and feel energized, lighter and much stronger, healthier and happier than before. “
He concluded, “Abigail and I used food as a comfort blanket, but when that was taken away we dealt with our emotions and thanks to that our relationship is stronger than ever.”