Woman who weighed 23st ditched beer for exercise and shed 10.5st

Woman who weighed 23st ditched beer for exercise and shed 10.5st


Woman who was too big for her GP’s scales at 23st and ‘laughed at people’ who exercised drops more than 10st in a year by ditching pints and taking up running

  • Sarah Day, from Basingstoke, weighed 23st after using food to cope with grief
  • Former party girl, 45, took up daily exercise and shed 10.5 stone in over a year
  • She now loves exercise, goes on 6km morning runs and can fit into a size 10

A former 23st party girl who ‘used to laugh at people who exercised’ has told how discovering running has seen her drop 10.5st, meaning friends no longer recognise her ripped physique in the street.

Sarah Day, 45, an IT service desk manager, from Basingstoke, weighed more than 23 stone after the loss of her beloved mum and her ex-husband in 2014 left her distraught.

Previously 23st 2lb, at her 5′ 8′ height, she wore a size 26, when her doctor’s medical scales did not go high enough to record her weight in 2019, mortified Sarah was referred to a local slimming club. 

She was soon bitten by the weight loss and workout bug, and now weights 12st 8lbs and has dropped to a size 10-12.

Sarah Day (pictured left before the weight loss, and right, after), 45, from Basingstoke, has showcased her dramatic 10.5st weight loss after taking up up daily exercise

Sarah, who is single, and has lived with her father, David Day, 72, a retired engineer, since she separated from her late ex-husband in 2012, describes her weight loss as ‘life-changing’.

She said: ‘I bought a dress in a size 10 the other day, which was just the most incredible feeling.

‘Friends and family are blown away and people don’t recognise me in the street.

‘I used to laugh at people who exercised and thought they were stupid. Now I run four times a week and exercise almost daily. I’ll never go back to how I was before.’

Tall and slim through most of her teens, Sarah began putting on weight as a young woman when she began eating and drinking anything she liked.

‘I’d always been skinny when I was younger, so I never thought I’d put on weight,’ she explained.

‘I’ve always been large – taller and bigger – since I started putting on weight aged 18.

‘Before that, I was really skinny. Nothing triggered me to put on weight.’

At her heaviest, Sarah weighed 23st 2lb and was left ‘mortified’ when her doctor’s medical scales did not go high enough to record her weight in 2019 

The incident prompted the IT service desk manager to join a local slimming club and she completely overhauled her lifestyle, ditching takeaways and beer for 6km morning runs

A social drinker, Sarah also began partying more with her friends at this time.

She said: ‘I used to go out a lot and drink at weekends. I was a social drinker but I did drink a lot – wine, beer and shots.’

But the change in her figure didn’t bother confident and popular Sarah.

‘I didn’t mind being a big girl, and I was quite happy being “Big Sarah”,’ she said.

In 2000, aged 24, Sarah married her now late ex-husband, who she prefers not to name.

‘I was a size 16 when I got married,’ she said. ‘I just gradually put on the weight by eating what I liked and going out drinking.

‘I ate the wrong things. I ate pizza all the time – I just ate whatever I wanted.’

But the relationship didn’t last, with the pair parting ways in 2012.

She used to laugh at people who exercised but in February 2020, she joined a gym and discovered to her shock that she loved it, and now goes on 10km to 15km hikes with friends

The former party girl who would drink six pints of beer on nights out but gave up alcohol during lockdown and now drinks in moderation 

Tragically, in May 2014, Sarah’s mum Nina Day, a catering business owner, died of ovarian cancer aged 68 – shortly followed by the death of Sarah’s ex-husband, in November that year.

She said: ‘I had a horrendous few years, losing my mum and my ex-husband. We were separated but it was just a really rubbish time.

‘He was a very big part of my life and it was a shock to go through that all in the same year.’

Turning to food to cope with her grief, Sarah admitted: ‘Since 2014, I put on a lot of weight. I didn’t really care what I was eating.

‘I’d eat a lot of cheese. I’d eat massive portion sizes of anything I fancied, and I was still drinking a lot at weekends and on nights out.’

Piling on stone after stone, Sarah’s wake up call finally came in June 2019 when, feeling low and suffering aches and pains, she booked an appointment with her GP.

‘I’d been to the doctors a couple of times,’ Sarah said. ‘I just thought it was a bit of blip.

‘But I got on the scales and she couldn’t calculate my weight. They were old-fashioned scales that cut off – and I was too heavy.’

After losing her mother and her ex-husband in the same year, Sarah turned to food to cope with grief and said she would eat ‘massive portion sizes’, piling on stone after stone

Now, she said her friends and family are blown away and people don’t recognise her in the street as she can fit into a size 10 dress which she said is an ‘incredible feeling’

Faced with the reality of her size, Sarah knew she had to take action.

She said: ‘I just came out and I cried. I knew unless I did it for myself no one was going to help me.’

Referred to WW, previously called Weight Watchers, she was offered a free 12-week membership through the NHS.

Vowing not to put it off any longer, she phoned up that afternoon and went along the next week.

She said: ‘It was like-minded people all at different stages and I just thought, I can do this.’

Embarking on the diet, which sees slimmers track their food intake with WW ‘points’, Sarah’s initial goal was to reach 16st and wear a size 18.

‘I’d have loved to have been a size 12 – but it seemed so far off at that stage,’ she explained.

After months of monitoring her diet, Sarah gradually lost 4st – despite initially refusing to exercise and continuing to enjoy some dinners and nights out with friends, saving up her points for the weekends.

She said: ‘I didn’t tell friends and family other than a few close ones, and my boss at work who was really brilliant.

‘Before lockdown. I wasn’t going to exercise – it just wasn’t me.’

But, as others noticed changes, she was warned by friends to tone up, or risk baggy folds of loose skin.

So, in February 2020, she bit the bullet and joined a gym – discovering to her shock, that she loved it.

Sarah said she feels ‘a major sense of achievement’ and with her newfound confidence friends are urging her to get back on the dating scene and want her to apply to First Dates

She said: ‘It was opposite my work and I thought it was a sign. Then, within weeks, they closed them all because of Covid. It took me 45 years to go to a gym and within a month they were shut.

‘I didn’t feel out of place and I was really getting into it – so I was gutted.’

With the pandemic taking the country into lockdown, Sarah began working out on an exercise bike in her dad’s front room and going out for long walks.

What Sarah ate before and after losing over 10st – ditching takeaways and beer for smoked salmon and a 6km morning run


Breakfast – nothing

Lunch – cheese wrap from work canteen, packets of crisps and bars of chocolate

Dinner – pizza with extra cheese, takeaways like Deliveroo, Burger King or McDonald’s

Drinking (on weekend nights out) – six pints of Stella, or white wine and shots

Exercise – none


Breakfast – one or two bananas

Lunch – sandwich thins with ham and low-fat Philadelphia, a low WW point bag of crisps

Dinner – smaller portions of healthier meals, such as chicken fajitas, spaghetti bolognese, salads, or scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on low-fat bread

Drinking (on a weekend) – gin and tonic, in moderation, or an occasional beer or glass of wine

Exercise – morning run of 5-6km and a lunchtime walk of 4km  

When restrictions began to lift, friends joined her on 10km to 15km hikes.

She said: ‘It was the only way I could see them so everyone just took it in turns to walk with me.’

Giving up alcohol during the lockdown, as her dad is a non-drinker, also helped.

‘I was a bit of a party animal before lockdown but it’s a bit weird by yourself,’ Sarah confessed.

‘I’d made the decision to stop drinking before to help get a bit more weight off, but I wouldn’t have wanted to drink alone during the pandemic.’

Returning to work, after the first lockdown in September 2020, colleagues were ‘astounded’ by her transformation.

‘I’d got to 16st but I wasn’t happy. I wanted more,’ she said. ‘I’d got the bug for exercise.’

The summer saw Sarah enjoy personal training sessions, and going back to the gym – as well as hitting a major milestone, as she had lost 8st.

‘The compliments just kept coming,’ she laughed.

In the autumn, when restrictions resumed, Sarah took up running.

Soon regularly jogging five or six kilometres, four times a week, and exercising six or seven times a week in total, Sarah’s doctor was amazed when she returned for an appointment in January 2021.

She said: ‘I’d lost just under 11st. The nurse couldn’t believe it.

‘I’m now a size 12 and WW says I’ve lost 10.5 stone. I’ve hit my goal weight and I feel unbelievable.’

Thrilled with her new figure, Sarah no longer considers her eating habits a diet.

‘It’s a lifestyle choice – I do have my treats,’ she said.

‘WW has changed my life. It’s something I will live with forever and I will never, ever go back.’

She added: ‘I’ve just been on a walking holiday to the Lake District with friends, something I never would have done before.’

But her newfound love of running has benefitted her mental, as well as physical, health.

She said: ‘I love clearing my head. It’s a breath of fresh air and my own thoughts.’

Now she’s so much happier, friends are urging Sarah to get back on the dating scene.

‘Apparently now I’m going to be able to get out there and find the man of my dreams!’ she joked.

And, Sarah may even one day pop up on TV.

She laughed: ‘My friends have always wanted me to apply to First Dates and I’ve never had the confidence before. It might be something I’ll think about in the future now – who knows.’

But the biggest change of all is in her happiness in herself.

Sarah said: ‘I smile when I look at myself when I’m cleaning my teeth now. I feel a major sense of achievement and it makes me so happy.’

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