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05 Oct 2022

Mum who manages 120 men prompted to lose “the weight of a person” going from 21st 5lb to 11st 11.5lb by blood clots on the lungs after having twins

Mum who manages 120 men prompted to lose “the weight of a person” going from 21st 5lb to 11st 11.5lb by blood clots on the lungs after having twins

A high flying mum who manages a team of 120 men has lost “the weight of a person” in 18 months – going from 21st 5lb to 11st 11.5lb – after life-threatening blood clots on her lungs when she gave birth to twins made her face her own mortality.

Chartered civil engineer Helen Warren, 34, mum to Emmett, three, and 18-month-olds Matilda and Tabitha, says she neglected her health while working for 55 hours a week and having a family.

But when she had twins with her carpenter partner Ben Payne, 38, a terrifying health emergency shocked her into realising that if she did not lose weight she might not live to see her beloved children grow up.

Helen, of Backwell, North Somerset, said: “If I can lose weight then anyone can.

“You just need to find your inner belief and make that switch in your head.”

Helen, who is 5ft 10in tall, started gaining weight when she was 26 and suffered two slipped discs in her lower spine, forcing her to give up powerlifting at the gym, which had kept her slim.

She said: “I was never the skinny kid and was probably about a dress size 14 at school, but then I slimmed down to a size 10 by the time I was in sixth form and went back up to a 14/16 at university –  so my weight has been up and down.”

Then, when Emmett was born, Helen felt guilty about working full-time, when many of her friends had only resumed their careers part-time after having a baby, so devoted all her spare time to her son, often neglecting her own health.

She said: “I also knew I wanted more children, so there was a part of me thinking there was no point in losing my pregnancy weight, because I’d only put it back on.”

  • Breakfast – two rounds of toast with butter and jam
  • Lunch – sandwich and packet of crisps
  • Dinner – macaroni cheese
  • Snacks – crisps, chocolate, anything she could grab quickly.

The shock she needed to change her lifestyle came after her twins were born in July 2020, when doctors diagnosed her with two life-threatening blood clots on her lungs.

She said: “I had a normal birth but had postpartum haemorrhaging and lost 1.4 litres of blood during surgery after the twins were born.

“I was left really struggling to breathe and could barely get from the hospital bed to the toilet.”

She added: “I knew that wasn’t normal because I’d had Emmett but, at the time, doctors thought it was because I’d had twins.”

Discharged after two days in hospital, Helen spent a whole weekend at home still struggling to breathe, before being diagnosed with the pulmonary embolisms – the medical term for blood clots on the lungs – three days later after seeing a specialist as they wanted to investigate further.

She was then forced to inject blood thinning medication into her stomach for three months to disperse the clots and prevent them shifting to her brain or heart, which could have been fatal.

“I wanted to breastfeed the twins, which is why I had to have injections to break up the clots,” she said.

“But it was the shock I needed as, from the moment of the diagnosis, I decided to lose the weight that had crept on, because I knew I wanted to be here for my kids.”

Weighing 21st 5lb and wearing a size 20, Helen had a body mass index (BMI) used to gauge a healthy weight of 42.7, compared to the NHS healthy range of 18.5 to 24.9, which made her obese.

Straight after her diagnosis she  started to diet – restricting her food intake to 1,200 calories a day and losing 4st.

But, then on maternity leave, her restrictive diet left her feeling hungry all the time and low in energy.

So, when a family member joined the slimming club WW and lost 6st using their points system combined with a healthier lifestyle, she followed suit.

She said:  “I joined WW online in April 2021 and immediately had a new group of people supporting me virtually.

“It was really good fun because our kids would join in with the sessions and, as a mum with such young children, there’s no way I’d have been able to go to an offline class.”

Helen, who, having shed the weight equivalent of a whole person, is now 11st 11.5lb with a healthy BMI of 23.6, also started charting her progress on Instagram, to encourage other busy mums to achieve and maintain their weight loss goals.

She said: “I started my Instagram page last May to help and encourage other people, especially other mums, to believe in themselves.

“Whenever I feel I may be losing my motivation I just remember why I decided I had to lose weight in the first place – for my children.

“I now eat what I want. I just make sure I adjust if I eat cake.”

  • Breakfast – stacked crumpets with smoked salmon, eggs, and avocado
  • Lunch – chicken and roasted vegetable pasta
  • Dinner - WW creamy chicken fajita curry with rice and naan is a favourite.
  • Snacks – Grapes, WW snack bars, mini Babybel light cheese, Fridge Raiders snack packs

She added: “But I couldn’t have done this without my partner, because he looks after the children on a Saturday morning when I make my WW meals for the week.”

A simple look back through her photo albums brings home just how much her weight really bothered her.

Helen said: “I don’t have any full-length photos from when I was really big. I’d only ever take head-shots, so I think that shows I wasn’t happy with my body or the way I looked.”

She added: “I now weigh myself every Wednesday, but I don’t have treat days because that would suggest there’s something that’s not a treat about what I eat on the other days.

“I eat what I want, but I’ve changed my portions sizes.

“Now, if I have say pasta, I eat a portion three times smaller than I would have had before.”

And Helen says that if she can now inspire other busy mums to follow in her footsteps and get in shape through her Instagram page, she will be delighted.

She said: “Before I started this weight loss journey, I was cutting corners and ordering takeaways to save time, because I was so busy with such a young family.

“I felt like I was juggling my priorities. But I realise now that if I want to be here for my kids — which I do —  then I have to prioritise my own health and myself.”

  • You can follow Helen on Instagram here: @mummyto3under3.ww
  • To find out WW’s newest programme, PersonalPoints, where no two plans are alike, visit ww.com/uk.

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