This Blackpool mum-of-two not only turned around her life by losing weight, she also turned her health around too.
Joyce Heatley, from Layton, was taking a daily cocktail of medication after developing a series of medical conditions as she tipped the scales at nearly 20st two years ago.
She had to take medicine for type two diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, stiff joints and depression.
Her ailing health had even caused her to take early retirement from her beloved job in a primary school – where she worked in several different roles, including as a teaching assistant and after-school supervisor.
But now, after shedding nine stone with the help of a gastric bypass, Joyce has finally been able to stop taking the medication she was previously on and is feeling and healthier than she has done in years.
The 60-year-old said: “Having the gastric bypass is 100 per cent the best thing I have ever done – it has completely changed my life.
“I was sick and tired of putting a cocktail of drugs inside my body each day because I was overweight – I didn’t want that to be me for the rest of my life.
“Now all I take is a multi-vitamin and iron tablet and I feel amazing.”
Joyce, who recently celebrated her 60th birthday, underwent the procedure at Spire Fylde Coast Hospital in Blackpool.
Spire Healthcare has recently launched a new weight loss surgery in the North West – offering bariatric surgery from experts with 50 years combined experience.
Joyce didn’t have a problem with her weight in the past, when she got married in 1975, at the age of 22, she weighed just 9st 6lbs.
But as she settled into married life, she began to pile on extra pounds. She had her first child, daughter Jill four years later and son Ben three years after that.
She said: “I didn’t really lose my baby weight from my first by the time I had my second, and then the same thing happened when he was born.
“Over the following years, it continued to creep on.”
Joyce did have some success with diets and slimming clubs over the years, but found she could never sustain the approach long-term.
“They would work for a while and when I was good, I was very good.
“Twice, I managed to lose five stone with the help of slimming clubs.
“But at some point, I always slip up. And then once I’d been bad, I’d carry on being very bad.
“Then I’d end up putting it all back on – and more besides.”
Then when her marriage broke down 16 years ago, the problems Joyce had been experiencing with her weight began to spiral further out of control.
“I wouldn’t like it to come across the split was anything to do with my weight, because it wasn’t.
“But I did look in the mirror and think ‘no wonder he left’.
“My world came crashing down and this did have an impact on my size – because when I felt like that, the first thing I’d do is put the kettle on and grab the chocolate biscuits.
“Once I was on my own, I found myself turning to food and I guess I did use it as a bit of a crutch – it was the thing I could depend on.
“I ate all the wrong things, at all the wrong times.
“It was all about convenience – quick and easy and filling.”
At 50, after a terrifying incident when she was left struggling for breath walking down the street, she was diagnosed with asthma.
In 2010, after more and more health problems – including diabetes, cortisone injections in her knee and a bout of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, a strain of the shingles virus, she felt she must take action.
“I was so fed up with being unwell and relying on medication.
“Having this operation wasn’t about looking good in a nice dress or finding a new man, it was all about improving my health and feeling better again.
“Spire was brilliant and with me every step of the way.”
Instead of living off takeaways and fat and sugar-loaded snacks, Joyce now eats small portions of cereals, soups, salads, as well as the occasional piece of dark chocolate as a special treat.
She now weighs 11st and is a dress size 12-14, meaning she can now do things she wants to do.
“Before I lost the weight I couldn’t even reach down to tie my shoelaces properly, never mind run for the bus or go on a fairground ride on Blackpool seafront.
“Now I do those things and so much more. I’ve taken up hill-climbing, Zumba and swimming and walk every day.
“My life has totally changed since having the surgery.
“I turned 60 in April and couldn’t believe how different I feel compared to my 50-year-old self.”