A woman whose weight rose to 16 stones under the stress of appearing on prime-time television has now dropped seven stones and started acting.
When Emma Clewes, 38, agreed that the Edwardian Church, which she and her husband had converted into a single-family home, would be featured on Channel 4’s The Restoration Man, she did not foresee the toll of combining construction with films Waist, business and family commitments would mean for them.
Let’s turn to a diet of energy drinks, pastries, specials, and frozen pizzas to cope with juggling raising two young girls, doing extensive restoration work, and running a signage business with her husband, whom she is no longer with. Her weight soon skyrocketed.
Her body mass index (BMI), used by the NHS to measure a healthy weight, was only 5 feet 2 inches tall and 16 at its heaviest. It was 41.2 – compared to the healthy range of 18.5 to 24.9 – and made her obese.
Emma, an 8st 13lb size 4-6 from Howarth, West Yorkshire who has two daughters in elementary school, said, “It was a very stressful time and I didn’t take care of myself at all.
“I would be fooling myself, I didn’t have breakfast before work and mocked croissants and Red Bull in the car.”
She continued, “I was so busy with two kids who were close together in old age and all that was going on that I didn’t have time to think about myself, stay healthy and active, or take care of myself.” I was in survival mode. “
Emma and her husband took on the ambitious conversion of the Church in Oxenhope, West Yorkshire, when their eldest daughter was only six months old – only to discover a month after receiving the keys that awaited them.
“We lived with my parents for almost three years, had two young babies and a business to take care of,” said Emma, who finally moved into the property in late 2015.
“My focus wasn’t on taking care of myself at all,” she added.
Emma turned to sugary foods and carbohydrates for instant energy to meet the demands of life. That included the opening episode of the Channel 4 show’s sixth series in January 2016, and soon saw the pounds pile up.
She had already reached her goal weight of 9.5 kg in 2011 when she joined Weight Watchers, now WW. In 2018, she rejoined the slimming club and promised to wear a ball gown if she achieved her goal. That was just in the healthy BMI range.
Unfortunately, Emma and her husband separated in January 2019, and he was still living in the Church’s conversion despite no longer working together.
“I had decided to lose weight before the breakup,” she explained.
“I realized that I had to do something about my weight – but the two things had nothing to do with each other.”
She added, “At WW it was important to make small, sustainable changes and healthy swaps.”
With every stone that she lost as a milestone in April 2019. When she weighed 13 pounds, she decided to train herself as a WW trainer, knowing it would give her the boost she needed to revamp her lifestyle.
She said: “I only took it step by step, first of all organizing myself better with my food and starting to do batch cooking with the WW recipes.”
She continued, “I exchanged little things that added up – low-fat mayonnaise, chips, and sugar-free juice.
“I kept what I ate pretty similar, but made sure I chose healthier options.”
And when the first lockdown hit in March 2020 when she weighed 11kg and was a trained WW trainer, she led a group of slimmers at virtual meetings.
Her efforts to keep the members up even extended to dressing up as a unicorn in an inflatable outfit for one virtual meeting and appearing in full Christmas costume for another.
“That’s when the ball gown joke happened,” explained Emma.
“Fortunately, when I reached my target weight in October, the workshops had reopened. I had my weigh-in and I wasn’t expecting to reach my goal – and I had lost the last three and a half pounds and weighed only 8st 13lb. “
She added, “I had to come home and put on my ball gown! Howarth is a small place, but quite touristy – so I walked down the cobbled main street there in a ball gown. “
Emma is moving from a size 20 in her tallest size to a slim size 4-6 today and is determined to stay slim. She likes to run through the park with her daughters whom she would rather not name.
Now she eats a filling breakfast of eggs and WW-baked beans every day and has a version of her children’s dinner for lunch – she adds lots of vegetables to her plate – followed by a light snack in the evening.
Alternatively, she prepares healthy cooked lasagna, chilli, or curry when her girls are at her father’s house.
She has also used her newfound confidence to rekindle her love for theater in her childhood – after taking dance and drama lessons and appearing in plays and shows aged three to fourteen.
She said: “Just before the lockdown at the end of February 2020, I went on stage with a local theater company as an extra in An Inspector Calls, which I would never have thought of.”
Emma continued, “I am much more confident now and speak to people more. I don’t avoid people on the street because I’m not ashamed of my size.
“Best of all, I play more with the girls and spend sunny evenings walking around the park with them instead of sitting on a bench and watching.”
And with the gyms reopened, she’s also enjoying strength training and weight lifting, while she can’t wait to return to “personal” WW workshops to show her slimmers their progress and help others lose weight.
Now she’s proud to have a healthy BMI of 23 and hopes to pursue more theatrical ambitions.
She said, “I loved being on stage and it’s definitely something I would love to do again.
“Who knows what the future will bring?”