By Rebekah Scanlan
An obese bride-to-be who tipped the scales at 21 STONE (134kgs) has shed HALF her size, to walk down the aisle in a size 12 wedding gown.
Bridie Ritchie, 21, from New Auckland in Queensland, Australia, has lost an incredible 9 1/2 stone (60kgs) after ballooning to a size 24 because of her love of eating food on the go.
The busy hairdresser turned to junk food and takeaways because of her hectic work schedule, spending £80 ($100) a week on snacks like chocolate, chips, and biscuits.
Despite being ‘big’ when she met her now husband Michael, she eventually made the decision to have gastric sleeve surgery after years of yo-yo- dieting.
Just days after her surgery, Michael, 23, popped the question, giving Bridie the ultimate motivation she needed to shrink to half her size.
She said: “Looking back at photos, I cannot believe that it’s me!
“I was already 18st (115kgs) when I met Michael and was comfortable in love with him.
“We showed our affection through food, constantly sharing takeaways and eating out.
“I knew I was putting weight on. But I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to do anything about it.
“I’d look in the mirror every day and knew I needed to get control of the situation.”
She added: “I tried different diets and would always lose a few kilos. But they’d always go straight back on.
“It wasn’t until a colleague had weight loss surgery that I decided to go under the knife myself.
“Still, it wasn’t a quick solution. I loved food, especially Maccas and my new diet was like slop.
“A week after my gastric sleeve procedure, Michael proposed and it gave me the ultimate reason to persevere.”
After ditching her daily junk food habits – which included eating a Big Mac, fries and a fizzy drink with a side of nuggets and an ice cream in one sitting – Bridie’s biggest challenge was to get used to her stomach’s new size.
She said: “Dinner was my biggest downfall. I loved eating large portions of pasta, bread and rice.
“One full-sized plate wasn’t never usually enough, so I’d often help myself to seconds.
“My stomach was so stretched it was hard to feel full and satisfied. I would want to keep eating.
“Which was why gastric surgery was such a good option for me.”
Still, eating puréed foods like mashed potatoes and pumpkins was initially a real struggle.
She said: “I was like going back to eating like a baby! It wasn’t pleasant but I knew I had to do it.
“Especially once Michael proposed. I’d never been so determined.”
With her oversized portions gone in favour of six small meals a day, Bridie soon started to reap the rewards.
She said: “I lost 4 stone (25kgs) in two months and it gave me such a boost.
“I’d struggled to stand on my feet at work for 12 hours every day, but suddenly it wasn’t as challenging anymore.
“It really made me realise just how bad things had got.
“Especially when doctors diagnosed me with polycystic ovaries and warned I may never be able to have kids because of my size.”
With her healthier and smaller meals, Bridie continued down the road of success after seeking help from a dietician and joining a gym.
“Being a hairdresser, there’s no time to sit down and have a proper meal. You eat on the run which was why I’d gained weight so easily.
“At 5ft 5, I thought I carried it well, but deep down I was unhappy.
“Now I prepare all my meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and even carry healthy snacks like crackers and carrot sticks in my bag so I never feel temped.
“I also go to the gym and for long walks most days.
“It’s made such a difference.”
Eighteen months after her surgery, Bridie had lost 9 1/2 stone (60kgs), and walked down the aisle in a size 12 wedding gown.
She said: “All I wanted was to feel amazing inside and out on my big day.
“When I went shopping for my wedding dress, I was really worried that nothing would look good, but I surprised myself.
“I felt really good on the day and never imagined I could ever feel that way.”
Now the happily married couple are happier than ever, and even joke about how big Bridie had been before.
She said: “We laugh about it now, and it means a lot to me knowing he could love me at my biggest.
“Now, if we want to treat ourselves out for a meal, we’ll share one dish between the two of us. We’ve completely changed the way we eat.
“Before, I’d worry about people judging me when I was out eating in public, but not anymore. I feel so much more confident.”
She added: “I know some people think I took the easy way out having surgery, but I don’t care what people say.
“It was a tool for me that helped turn my life around and I feel amazing.
“It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Breakfast – Buttery toast with milky coffee
Lunch – takeaway, usually pasta or doorstop sandwich
Dinner – Macca’s – usually a large burger, fries, Coke and side of chicken nuggets
Snacks – Chocolate, biscuits and lollies
Breakfast – Yogurt with fruit and nuts
Lunch – small salad with vegetables and protein
Dinner – grilled chicken with fresh veggies