Twins Shannon and Olivia Wilson used to love takeaways and would regularly treat themselves to McDonald’s, Greggs and Subway.
Combined with years of secretly eating sweets, chocolate and treats behind their parents’ backs, the sisters wore size 26 and 28 clothes and were unhappy with how they looked.
But when a back condition left Olivia in so much pain she couldn’t even bend over to put her shoes on and needed spinal surgery, the pair were determined to shift the pounds and overhauled their diet, ditching the daily takeaways for healthy substitutes and doing daily workouts together.
They’ve shed an incredible 18st between them and say friends are shocked when they see their new new.
Now the 26-year-old sisters wear a size 12 and 14 after Olivia lost 9st 10lbs and Shannon lost 8st 9lbs.
Finance manager Olivia said: “I never thought I’d get near my target of a size 10 but clothes have been my motivation. I have always dreamed of being able to shop on the high street.
“By the time I was in my early 20s they never had anything that would fit my size.
“But now it feels amazing to be able to shop anywhere I want and feel like I look as good as the model wearing it when it arrives.
“I can go to sleep at night now whereas before I used to struggle to breathe.”
Shannon, a customer support manager, added: “People are shocked when they see us now, they tell us that we look amazing and that the difference in us is inspiring.
“We are immensely proud of each other and we are both so much happier.
“We have both helped motivate each other along the way, I don’t think I could have done it without Olivia.”
Diagnosed with spinal stenosis – a narrowing of the spaces within your spine – Olivia would spend weekends bed-bound with chronic pain scoffing entire packets of Mr Kipling cakes and on weekdays would order a double breakfast from McDonald’s before starting the 4am shift at work and eating lunch at Subway or Greggs for convenience.
After undergoing an operation to relieve the pressure on her spine in July 2019, she soon realised that she would have to make some serious lifestyle changes if she wanted the pain relief to be permanent.
Olivia said: “You sort of lie to yourself by covering it up and denying to yourself how big you really are.
“I would never wear jeans or anything tight, it would always be leggings with a big dress and cardigan.
“I was going to work at 4am and going straight to McDonald’s for breakfast, I’d buy so much that I’d have to take the remainder to work with me and it was like a two stage breakfast.
“On the weekend I was bed bound because of my back and I did a lot of emotional eating.
“I couldn’t physically do anything for myself, my dad had to put my shoes on for me because I couldn’t physically bend down.”
By May 2020 Shannon had started to notice a significant difference in her sister’s size, and decided to face up to her own negative eating habits – but was horrified to learn how far she had come when she stepped on the scales for the first time.
Shannon said: “As soon as we started getting our own pocket money, I would spend all of my money on treats.
“After school I would always go to the ice-cream van on my way home and get some sweets before stopping at the corner shop and buying even more snacks like biscuits and chocolate.
“I used to put the stuff in my bag so I could get it past my mum when I got home.
“When I saw how much weight Olivia was losing after her surgery I knew it was time for me to make some changes as well.
“The first time I stepped on the scales I just sat and cried all night, I had been in denial about my size for a long time and it hit me hard.”
After moving in together in lockdown, the twins have been able to create a meal plan turning all of their old favourite treats into healthy versions such as healthy pizza bagels, pasta bakes with fresh ingredients and smaller portions and swapping out fast food breakfast and lunches for fruit and salad.
Shannon said: “Since May we have done exercise everyday.
“We started off doing workout videos together but then we started learning the moves that we liked best or that we felt were most effective and now we have our own little workout routine that we do together.
“As soon as we moved in together we got into a routine where we could have the same things for breakfast lunch and dinner.
“Now we have a meal plan and go to the supermarket together to plan our meals for the week ahead.
“It’s not about packing your plate full of just veg, you can still have treats but it’s about breaking that emotional bond with food, having things in moderation and learning portion control.”
Olivia’s diet before
BREAKFAST – SAUSAGE AND EGG MCMUFFIN, CHEESE AND BACON FLATBREAD, HASH BROWN
LUNCH – SUBWAY FOOT LONG SANDWICH
DINNER – TAKEAWAY PIZZA OR PASTA BAKE WITH HOMEPRIDE SAUCE AND AN ENTIRE BAG OF CHEESE
Olivia’s diet before
BREAKFAST – BACON BUTTY
LUNCH – TOASTIE WITH CHIPS
DINNER – TAKEAWAY PIZZA
Their diet now
BREAKFAST – GREEK YOGHURT WITH FRUIT
LUNCH – SOUP OR SALAD
DINNER – HEALTHY PIZZA BAGELS OR HOMEMADE PASTA BAKE