A mum-of-three is planning to renew her wedding vows after shedding half her body weight.
Julie Farquhar, who went from a size 26 to a 10 and was 20st 12lb at her heaviest, says she wants to look like she’d always wanted on her big day.
“I’d like to look like a princess for the day and be proud of walking down the aisle instead of just wearing a dress because it’s all I could get at that size,” said Julie, 41, from Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire.
But now, at a trim 10st 8lb, Julie is hoping to help steer others away from dangerous obesity. And she is backing calls by Cancer Research UK for the Scottish Government to ban junk food multi-buy offers.
Julie’s desire to lose weight was given fresh impetus after her mum Vera lost a battle against breast cancer four years ago this month.
“I saw first-hand what cancer did to my mum and it was horrific,” said Julie. “Although her cancer wasn’t related to her weight, I was dramatically increasing my own chances of developing cancer by being so heavy.
“It was a no brainer that I had to do something about it for the sake of my children.
“My mum fought with every ounce of her being to live – and there I was in the background killing myself with food. I’ve no doubt about that. If I’d kept going the way I was, God knows where I’d have ended up.”
Although she had always struggled with her weight, the unhealthy take-away meals and snacks of crisps and chocolate she largely existed on as she visited her mum in a hospice saw the pounds really pile on.
But it wasn’t until more than two years after losing her mum that she was persuaded to try a local Slimming World class with them in January 2017.
“It wasn’t until I’d been to that meeting that I realised how heavy I’d become.
“It’s one thing knowing that you’re overweight but it’s something else entirely when you’re faced with the reality of the figure on those scales.”
Although she’d tried unsuccessfully to lose weight in the past, the support, backed up by the experience she’d had with her mum, made this time different.
And the weight fell away as she and husband John, 33, wanted to make sure they were setting a good example to sons Dillon, 14, Keigan, 11 and eight-year-old daughter Lois.
She said: “If I want to have sausage, beans and chips, I still have it, but it will be grilled low-fat sausages and home-made potato wedges that are cooked in the oven with the tiniest amount of spray oil. I stopped shopping in the bigger stores with the kids and moved to one of the budget supermarkets where I think I’m more likely to find deals on fruit and veg and fewer of these junk food offers.
“I can pick up a pack of six apples for 69p there, but in other shops a packet of apples could be double the price of a multi-pack of crisps. That’s just wrong and definitely something the Scottish Government needs to clamp down on.”
A Cancer Research UK report published last month shows that obesity is set to overtake smoking as the biggest preventable cause of cancer among UK women in 25 years’ time.
Already being overweight or obese is linked to around 2,200 (7%) cases of cancer a year in Scotland.
Professor Linda Bauld, from the charity, believes new laws are desperately needed to make food shopping a healthier experience.
“Junk food multi-buy offers encourage us to bulk buy and eat large quantities of unhealthy food, the consequences of which have become all too obvious in the nation’s growing waistlines,” said Professor Bauld, who is based at the University of Stirling.
“The Scottish Government can and must take action.”
Julie says her new slimmed-down look gave her the confidence to take up a new job working in a nursery, something she would have been too scared to do when she was bigger.
And now a re-do of her wedding day is on the cards. “It has made me a whole new person,” she adds. “I was plus-size when I got married so doing it again, as I’d want, would be lovely.”