By Josh Saunders
An obese mum has celebrated ditching her ‘catfish’ cheating ex by losing over ten stone naturally and finding true love.
Erin Gardner, 30, from Salem in New Hampshire, USA, weighed more than 21st (300lb) when she left her ex after discovering he was having an affair three years ago.
She received a Facebook message from a woman claiming to have dated her ex for six months and accused him of being a ‘catfish’ – by pretending to be single.
This was the final straw for the mum, who had piled on the pounds after her ex’s previous affairs.
She started eating clean and exercising to keep up with her four-year-old son, Cameron, which helped her lose a whopping 10 stone (146lb).
Her newfound confidence led her to meet Dominic Federico, 36, who makes her feel ‘beautiful every day’ and has ‘drastically improved’ her life.
Erin, a waitress, said: “The day I caught my ex having an online affair I decided I was going to leave and that motivated me to want to change myself too.
“I received a Facebook message from a girl in Louisiana, who told me that she had been in an online relationship with him for six months.
“She said that didn’t know about me because he was using a different name and made up a completely different life.
“He was ‘catfishing’ her, where he pretended to be a different person and was only found out when the woman became suspicious when his phone number was listed under my name.
“After that I wasn’t sad, I was angry.
“I knew I didn’t need him anymore and that staying with someone who treated me badly was not setting a good example to my son.
“I knew he cheated on me a bunch of times, but I never had enough self-believe and confidence to leave, I didn’t think I was going to do better than him.
“Leaving my ex got the ball rolling, it helped me to kick start my weight loss.
“I’m glad I found out about the affairs because now every aspect of my life is better.
“My new boyfriend makes me feel great about myself every day, he tells me I’m beautiful and accepts me the way I am.”
Erin says she was always ‘chubbier’ when growing up, but her weight gain spiralled after claiming to discover a spate of affairs.
To console herself, she used food as a crutch and was consuming large quantities of pizza.
Erin said: “I didn’t have a great self-body image at that time, when someone cheats on you, you question what’s wrong with you.
“During those times, I used food even more, I continued to eat to block out my feelings and used it to deal with everything.
“At the time, I worked in a pizza restaurant and really liked pizza too, which didn’t help, so I was eating up to five slices of pizza in each sitting, four days a week.”
But after leaving her ex in 2014, she decided to start dieting to become a better mother to her son because she was ‘struggling to keep up with him’.
Erin believes some of the key secrets to weight loss is having patience and not falling off the wagon after having cheat days.
She said: “Unfortunately, there’s no magic pill or drink you take can make you lose weight and keep it off.
“I didn’t have surgery and didn’t take any shortcuts, I started by changing the way I ate, I started small and didn’t beat myself up over hiccups, everything needs to be in moderation.
“I began eating clean – so a lot of chicken, vegetables, salads and then once my weight plateaued I introduced exercise in the form of DVD workouts too.”
While losing weight, Erin says she rejected her ex who tried to reignite their relationship despite the affairs.
She said: “A year and a half ago, he told me how sorry he was and that he would do anything to make up the family again but the truth was and still is, I’m happier without him.
“There are no feelings for him, even with the weight loss, it wasn’t like I wanted a revenge body, it was more once I started seeing results I got hooked.”
She met boyfriend Dominic on Tinder in 2015, who she says encouraged her on her journey and is attracted to her personality as well as her new look.
Now she’s a slender 11stone (154lb) after years on her weight loss journey and says that she ‘couldn’t be happier’ in her new relationship.
Erin said: “Dominic is the best, he makes me feel so good about myself every day and I know even if I put my weight back on he would still love me.
“I feel a million times better now, before I was in constant fear of being cheated on, now I don’t feel like that at all.”
Erin hopes her story will inspire others in unhealthy relationships to find the courage to leave their partners.
Erin said: “It’s wasn’t easy, but it was so worth it, I was in a relationship for ten years and he cheated on me a tonne of times during those years.
“At first it seems like it’s the end of the world when you leave, but it gets better and you will find someone who knows your worth and will respect you every single day.”
Breakfast – French toast, pancakes, bacon Snacks – chips and cheese curls Lunch –five slices of pepperoni or buffalo chicken pizza Snacks – chips, cheese curls, chocolate, ice cream Dinner – chicken fingers, Thai food, onion rings Dessert – cherry cheesecake
Breakfast – two hard boiled eggs with spinach, mushroom and onions Snacks – almonds or cucumber Lunchtime – Greek salad with chicken Snacks – string cheese Dinner – fish or chicken with spinach Dessert – cherry cheesecake flavoured Greek yoghurt