Broody Laura Davis went on the mother of all diets in her bid to have a longed-for baby and it worked… with a twist.
Laura was 24 stone and she and fiancé Martin Thomas had been trying for a baby for years without success.
She finally knuckled down with her diet, shed 9st and conceived baby Archie, who is nearly three.
But during the pregnancy her weight shot up to 20st.
Laura quickly got pregnant again – and by the time daughter Amelia arrived she was back at 24st.
Now 12st 12lb after a second diet – she has shed an incredible 21st in total, albeit in two goes.
The beauty consultant, 26, is down to a slinky size 12 and is planning her dream wedding to Martin, 29, a stone mason.
“I feel reborn,” Laura says. “I’m the same weight as when I was aged 12, I’ve got two beautiful children, and we are planning our wedding next year. Life couldn’t be better.”
Laura, from Stevenage, Herts, says being bullied as a chubby schoolgirl led to her finding comfort in food.
She recalls: “Being tall also meant I stood out and when I put on a few pounds at school the other kids were simply horrible.
“I started secret eating and bingeing on junk, which obviously gave those bullies even more to aim at.
“From the age of around 12 – when I weighed 12st – until 16 I basically counted down the days until I could leave school and escape. I went to college to study make-up for theatre and media, wanting to work on film sets, then met Martin through friends.
“He could see past my weight and was amazing. We bought our first house together when I was 18 and I did mobile beauty therapy as well as working at The Body Shop – I worked 12-hour days, burying my head in the sand about my growing weight. I’d eat a massive fried breakfast, would binge-eat biscuits all day between clients, then have a massive Domino’s takeaway of pizza, chicken wings and chips at night with Martin.
“Frustratingly, he’s 6ft 3in and one of those people who seem to never put on any weight, while I just had to look at a cake and I’d pile on the pounds.”
They did join a gym together… but undid the good work by stopping for burger and chips on the way home.
Embarrassed by her size, 5ft 9in Laura started suffering anxiety and depression and threw herself into her work as a distraction. She goes on: “Martin and I started trying for a baby, with no luck.
“Of course, I blamed my weight.
“We paid a private clinic for tests, but were told there didn’t seem anything wrong with our fertility.”
It was in 2016 that Laura decided to act after seeing herself in a full-length mirror reduced her to tears. She says: “How had I let this happen? I was only 23 and my life felt like it was over. The next day I noticed a client had lost a fair bit of weight and she told me she’d used the 1:1 Diet by Cambridge Weight Plan.”
In January 2017 Laura tried the same plan and by September had lost 9st by sticking to meal replacement shakes and low-carb meals. Then, out of the blue, she got pregnant.
“It was amazing news,” she says. “Of course the elephant in the room wasn’t me any more, but the fact that my weight must have been a factor in us not conceiving for so long.”
Archie was born in June 2018, by which time Laura was nudging 20st.
Doctors told her not to diet until he was three months old.
But just as she was about to start her plan again, she found out she was pregnant a second time. Laura was thrilled – but had a tough time, explaining: “My second pregnancy was completely different to the first.
“This time I felt simply terrible and ended up in hospital with what doctors thought was a suspected heart attack.”
It turned out to be a faulty gallbladder, but to remove it during the pregnancy would risk her miscarrying. Instead, Laura was told by medics to eat a fat-free diet to ease her symptoms.
But that ended up increasing her weight woes. She adds: “Unable to eat anything with fat in, I gorged on carbs like bread and pasta.
“The weight spiralled while I was in constant pain.”
Baby Amelia came along in October 2019 and, five weeks later, Laura had surgery to remove her gall bladder.
“By then I weighed almost 24st and the surgeon questioned if my BMI was actually too high to have a general anaesthetic. I was exhausted, fatter than Buddha, and everything seemed to be wrong,” Laura says. But she pushed ahead with the surgery, which went smoothly. Then it was finally time to think again about her diet.
She continues: “Looking at some family photos we’d had taken two weeks after Amelia was born, in which I looked like a walrus with no neck, I knew that this was my time.
“Doing our best not to conceive – ironically – I was back on the meal replacement shakes and bars on January 20 last year.
“Slowly, I started introducing balanced, low-carb meals such as tuna salads or chicken with cauliflower rice, and the weight dropped off.
“I hit my target of 15st in July. I’m now 12st 12lb, down from a size 22 to a 12 and have been told by friends I really shouldn’t lose any more weight or I’ll disappear. I’ve swapped biscuits for homemade kale chips – sometimes eating a whole bag in a day – gherkins and frozen grapes.
“Basically anything green. I sometimes think I’ll turn green!”
Having got engaged in 2016, Laura is busy planning her nuptials next April, by which time she hopes to wear a size 10 dress thanks to a tummy tuck booked in next month.
It means her weight loss will be the icing on the cake, so to speak.
“We’re hoping Archie will be old enough to carry the rings down the aisle on a little cushion, and Amelia will be a flower girl,” she says.
“I’ll be jumping in front of cameras, the first and last on the dance floor. It’ll be a day I’ll never forget, one I’ve dreamed about my whole life.”