SITTING on her bed surrounded by empty cans of Red Bull and chocolate bar wrappers, Rachel Davies was completely absorbed by a video game.
It took one very frank conversation with her 9-year-old daughter to turn her life around.
âAmber came in from school and said she had something important to tell me, but I simply wasnât listening â I was too focused on my game,â said Rachel, from Swansea.
âAmber was usually so calm and gentle, but she completely lost it, screaming at me: âIf you didnât want me, you shouldnât have had me! You donât love me!ââ
Rachel sent her daughter out of the room to calm down, then stared in the mirror for the first time in years and realised Amber was right â she was killing herself and being the worst possible mum to her beautiful daughter.
âI turned off my PlayStation, called Amber back in and we chatted for hours, the first proper conversation weâd had in years,â Rachel said.
âShe asked why we never do anything together like other families, how upset it made her to see me like this.
âFor the first time she told me how scared she was. Wiping the tears from her cheeks, I then realised I wasnât just ruining my life, I was ruining hers too, and promised her Iâd change.â
Taking a photograph of herself, Rachel went online and found a local diet consultant who inspired her to finally change.
âIâd tried countless other diets before, but I knew this was it â I would die and leave Amber without a mum if I didnât make it work,â she said.
In the first week she lost a full stone, going on to lose 12 stones in 12 months.
Now fitting into svelte size 12 clothes, down from her previous tent-like size 32 baggy tops and joggers, Rachel and Amber enjoy rock climbing together, scaling peaks in the local Brecon Beacons, playing on the trampoline and cooking healthy meals.
Rachel says: âI simply feel like Iâve been reborn â Iâve pretty much quit gaming, Iâve got so much energy and Iâm healthy for the first time since I was toddler. And itâs all down to Amber, my life-saver!â
Rachel says it was when she hit puberty that her weight became a real issue.
Weighing 16st at 16, her mum Jenny became her rock, taking her to a variety of doctors and dieticians to help find an answer.
âI tried Weight Watchers, Slimming World, almost every single diet out there, but nothing worked long-term,â she said.
Diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Rachel was told she would have to lose weight to manage the condition â but Rachel says that only put more pressure on her to slim-down, when she felt powerless to.
âI knew my PCOS was contributing to my weight, and also meant my chances of being a mum were now almost zero â not that I had a chance of finding a partner,â she said.
After sixth form, Rachel got a place to study to become a veterinary nurse at college, but soon dropped out thinking she wasnât fit enough to handle animals.
With her self-esteem at rock bottom, she found work in a local bar, soon opting to wash glasses in the kitchen so she didnât have to interact with the public.
But it was while working at the bar that she met a security guard who became her first ever boyfriend â and then in 2011 found out she was pregnant.
âI was simply over the moon hearing my PCOS hadnât stopped me conceiving,â she said.
âI thought becoming a mum would be the answer to my problems â Iâd have a new social group and a positive focus, a reason to live.â
But when Amber was born in July 2012 â Rachel weighing around 24st â her self-confidence slumped even lower.
âI felt like all the other new mums I met were judging me, thinking I was fat and lazy and would be a bad mum, my daughter ending up as big as me,â she said.
It was then that Rachel says her diet went from âbad to horrificâ.
âOnce Iâd put Amber down in the evening, Iâd polish-off whole tubes of Pringles, 12 packs of Penguins, basically any junk I could, without an off switch,â she said.
Her weight creeping up and stuck at home, Rachel was then introduced to a game called ARK: Survival Evolved on PlayStation.
âI had no idea how that game would suck me in â it became my only social life, interacting with other players online,â she said.
âIt was more addictive than any drug, and soon I was necking litres of energy drinks day and night to stay awake so I could keep playing.â
And then, when she thought things couldnât get worse, in February 2016 Rachelâs mum died at just 60 years old after an unexpected and short cancer battle.
âI felt like the one rock in my life was gone, my best friend and crutch,â she said.
JUNK FOOD HABIT
Soon Rachel was gaming for up to 15 hours a day and living off junk â ordering in McDonaldâs for her and Amber to share in the evenings.
âI constantly had a 2-litre bottle of Coke by my bed, and would drink six cans of Red Bull a day â along with endless sugar from sweets and chocolate, all I cared about was staying awake so I could keep playing.
âI completely lost sight of my own health, and more importantly, my amazing daughter.â
Regularly setting her alarm to wake her at key points in the night so she could keep gaming, Rachel would walk Amber the 50 metres to school, then go straight back to bed to keep playing â and eating.
âI hardly ever cooked for Amber because I didnât want to be away from the PlayStation â on the odd occasion Iâd try cooking something like chicken nuggets and chips, Iâd burn it because my mind was on the game.â
Rachel admits she was often openly ridiculed by the other children on the school run â without thinking what effect this would have on Amber.
At over 27st, and her PCOS as bad as ever, it was that fateful evening last April that changed everything.
âAmber just snapped â sheâd always defended me when people had called me fat or lazy, saying how beautiful I was, but when I couldnât be a mum anymore, she had no choice but to speak the truth. That saved my life.â
She adds: âI very clearly remember sitting on the edge of the bed, staring at myself in the mirror, thinking how ashamed my mum would be of me if she were still alive.
âI owed it to her too, to everyone, to change.â
The morning after their heart-to-heart, Rachel made Amber the first healthy breakfast the Year 4 pupil had had in months, then started googling diets.
âThe Cambridge 1:1 plan, with meal replacement products looked perfect to me â I needed to actually eat something, but didnât want to have to make choices,â she said.
A few days later she had a video consultation with her mentor, Emma Steel, and then started on the 800 calorie-a-day regime â four tasty shakes, bars and replacement meals a day, along with a pint of skimmed milk to use in coffee.
âI knew I couldnât completely quit my gaming overnight, so tapered down to four hours a day, then two, and eventually just the occasional hour every few days â I just felt like I was in control for the first time in years.
âAmber commented on how much happier I seemed, how she couldnât believe I was actually doing it!â
Losing a stone in her first week was all the incentive Rachel needed to keep going.
Within two weeks, any feelings of hunger were replaced with energy.
âI remember after a couple of months the same kids on the way to school whoâd made horrible comments were actually complimenting me!â she said.
âThey told me I should ditch the huge, drab jacket I always wore and show off my new figure!â
âIâm down to 14st 6lbs now and fit into size 12 clothes, which is literally incredible,â she continues.
âI canât recognise the woman in those old photos, but almost more importantly, my relationship with Amber is now rock-solid.
âCooking healthy meals together â with no junk food or takeaways â means sheâs slimmed down too.
âWe love having water fights in the garden, climbing mountains, basically making up for all the lost time.
âIf my mum could see me now, I know how proud she would be!â
For more information of the 1:1 diet by Cambridge Weight Plan, visit www.one2onediet.com.
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