A woman was so horrified at being fat-shamed by an air hostess for needing a larger seat belt that she transformed her life and shed eight stone.
Zoe Foster, 63, says she “wanted the floor to open up” when an air hostess “walked down the aisle swinging a bright orange belt extension saying loudly: ‘Who’s the lady who needs this?’.”
She had just enjoyed a holiday in Spain when the public humiliation tarnished the memory of the trip as she boarded a plane.
As a size 26, Zoe was unable to fasten her seat belt on the commercial aircraft.
She said: “The seat belt would not fasten and to my horror I was shamed by the air hostess.
“She walked down the aisle swinging a bright orange belt extension saying loudly: ‘Who’s the lady who needs this?’
“I wanted the floor to open up so I could disappear.
“I made my mind up there and then – I would never let this happen to me again.”
Zoe, from Scunthorpe, joined her local Slimming World group just two days later and within weeks she was dropping dress sizes.
But all her hard work came to a stop when she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, an autoimmune and inflammatory disease.
Zoe said: “I became almost bed bound. I couldn’t drive or go to work.”
She started to make improvement thanks to her medication but only for another life-threatening emergency to occur.
“I had a spontaneous ruptured spleen. I had surgery to remove my spleen and was in ICU for several days and in hospital for a month,” said Zoe.
“After three months rehabilitating, I came through and was so happy to be alive, thanks to our wonderful NHS.”
She said she “ate her way through recovery” and put back on the 3st 5lbs she had just lost.
Zoe had been “munching through mountains of toast with butter”, chips, cakes and takeaways.
She said: “I was so depressed and upset with myself but I would put a brave face on and go out with friends, where I consumed large amounts of alcohol.
“This would release my inhibitions so I appeared the life of the party – but deep down I was sad.
“After drinking it was usually followed by a kebab or something like.
“My friends supported me and loved me for who I was but I really didn’t like myself very much.”
Zoe wanted to change her body and mind set so rejoined Slimming World.
“I got new motivation and suddenly I was in the right head space. I started to lose weight again,” said Zoe.
“Sometimes it wasn’t easy. I had holidays and celebrations and would put on a few pounds.
“But the difference was, I was always straight back on it determined to be the best version of myself I could be.”
She changed her diet completely and began eating Slimming World-approved meals and put a limit on her ‘treats’ – such as chocolate and alcohol.
Zoe has been shielding throughout the Covid-19 pandemic due to her health conditions and says she has been very lonely.
She added: “Home alone I felt so isolated but after a couple of days feeling sorry for myself I pulled up my big girl pants and decided this wasn’t going to stop me attaining my goal.
“At this point, I struggled to walk 5,000 steps a day. I started to walk around my garden and got an exercise cycle.
“I gradually built up my body magic (exercise) and now do about 12,000 steps a day. On average 60 to 70 minutes exercise a day by walking, exercise cycle and online exercise classes.”
Zoe says “variety” has been her key to dropping from a size 26 to her current size 16 to 18.
She added: “I have attained the target weight I set and got my eight stone award.
“The benefits to my health are great. I was in the waiting list for knee replacements but no longer need this done at present.
“I rarely have Rheumatoid and my blood pressure is normal for the first time in years.
“It hasn’t always been easy but I have got to say it’s been worth it and now feel I am living the best life I can even in today’s difficult climate.”