By Josh Saunders
A chocolate addict mum has lost six stone thanks to exercising with her children – and using them as weights.
Mareike Lott, 31, from Fort Irwin in California, USA, gorged on daily bags of chocolate, cakes and donuts until her weight had soared to 16st 6 (230lb).
She struggled to keep up with her energetic kids and battled with body image issues that left her crying when she looked in the mirror or when clothes didn’t fit.
A turning point came for the mum-of-two when she was so embarrassed by how she looked that she didn’t want to be naked in front of husband Shawn.
Determined to change, she switched her sugary snacks for seasoned vegetables and a daily 30-minute workout with her children Mia and Leon, six and four.
She incorporated them into exercises – using them as weights and squatting with them on her back, which helped her to lose more than six stone (90lb).
Mareike, a health and fitness coach, said: “Before, my diet was bad. I was eating a lot of chocolate, cakes, half a dozen donuts in one sitting and was always needing to mix sweet with savoury.
“I would cry every day when I was getting dressed because nothing fit right and I was even wearing maternity clothing three years after having my last baby.
“I was so embarrassed of my body that I didn’t want my husband to see me without clothes on, which made it difficult for us to become intimate.
“That was one of many turning points for me, I realised I couldn’t keep living the way I was, so I started eating clean and exercising.
“Every day I would do a 30-minute workout video with my children, as they were never in day care so they had to do everything with me.
“I used them as ‘baby weights’ holding them while I exercised, while squatting and used them in my different exercises.
“I had no other choice, it was either incorporate them into exercise or not exercise at all.
“Now my daughters love it. I’ll ask my oldest if she wants to do yoga and she yells, ‘no, I want to do this exercise’ then starts doing jumping jacks or burpees.
“The exercise is giving me and my children a better life as they get to see their mum happy and energetic instead of depressed on the couch.
“The 30-minutes I take for myself to exercise is easily multiplied in the amount of fun, time and energy I can devote to my kids.”
At her heaviest, Mareike had a body mass index of 38, meaning she was clinically obese according to the World Health Organisation that states a healthy BMI ranges between 18.5 and 25.
She believes she suffered from body dysmorphia, only realising her weight had spiralled out of control when seeing a photograph of her and her children in 2014.
Mareike said: “I knew I was overweight but didn’t realise I was morbidly obese until I saw a picture of me playing with my children where I sitting down because I was too exhausted to stand.
“Before I was always playing at an arm’s length away from my children because I was too tired so rather than interacting with them on the floor, I was on the couch or sitting further away.
“I also would suffer from pain because of my weight and would make exhaustion sounds doing every day activities like running up a flight of stairs.”
Mareike started her journey, by initially switching her excessive chocolate consumption for one cocoa flavoured meal replacement – helping her to lose 6lb in her first week.
She also started eating clean and to speed up her weight loss, performed a half hour workout six days a week.
Mareike said: “At first I found it incredibly hard to complete the exercise videos and struggled without modifying the movements, but the important thing was that I always finished them.
“Another small thing I did, which people forget, is to season their vegetables, for example one evening I’d steam them, other nights I’d make spice mixes from Italian to Mexican.”
Now weighing less than 10 stone (139lb), Mareike has learned to love body and is closer to achieving her teenage dream of having a six pack.
Mareike said: “I’ve always wanted a six-pack since I was 14-years-old and now I’m closer than ever to making that happen.
“Now I like catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror because I know I look good and am not afraid to be naked in front of my husband.
“I do have stretchmarks and some saggy skin but that doesn’t take away from how I feel about myself and the situation, I’ve worked hard to achieve this.”
Mareike has now gone onto become a health and fitness coach and she hopes to inspire others on their weight loss journey with her story.
She believes her mum and children exercises, along with a range of other tips are vitally important to their success.
Mareike said: “The most important thing that carries me through is making sure I absolutely never forgot why I was losing weight.
“I used to cry nearly every time I thought about it.
“Focussing on your why you’re losing weight is really important, whether it means putting a picture on the wall, having a powerful memory or other ways, it can be very helpful.
“I’ve been the busy mum, the worker and the college student, but found a way to exercise and lose weight – now I’m hoping those tips can help others.”
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Breakfast – nothing
Snacks – two large bowls of sugary cereal
Lunch – large portions of pasta with creamy cheese sauce
Snacks – one wholegrain vegan cake
Dinner – three servings of pasta with cheese
Dessert – chocolate cake, bag of chocolate, crisps
Breakfast – yoghurt with fruit and nuts
Snacks – cucumber
Lunch – beans with a large salad and seasoned vegetables
Snacks – vegetables, nuts, yoghurt
Dinner – lean steak with steamed seasoned vegetables
Dessert – chocolate flavoured protein shake