A woman who was dangerously obese has lost half her body weight after her son drew her as a ‘blob’ at school.
Meryem Davies, 37, was prompted to lose 10 stone because of her four-year-old son Thomas’ brutal honesty.
The mum-of-four from Pontypridd, South Wales, weighed 20 stone before her dramatic weight loss and would binge-eat in secret. She now weighs 10 stone and is a size 10.
Meryem, also mum to Daniel, eight, and 15-year-old twins Jessica and Lauren, said: “My children called me ‘fat’ because they couldn’t fit their arms around me when giving me hugs. It was upsetting but the drawing was the final straw and I finally realised how my children saw me.
“I signed up for Slimming World the next day.”
Meryem had struggled with her weight since she was a teenager.
She was 23 years old, weighed 14 stone and wore a size 18 when she met husband Leigh, now 47, a driving instructor.
Meryem, who stands at just 5ft 3in, said: “Deep down, I was extremely embarrassed at my size - in fact, I was miserable.
“Feeble attempts at faddy diets over the years never worked - I’d lose some weight then fall off the wagon again.”
Every morning, Meryem would polish off a huge bowl of sugary cereal with three slices of thick toast slathered with salty butter.
Family dinners were cooked with jars of unhealthy ready-made sauce followed by calorie-filled desserts.
As Meryem’s love for food grew, so did her weight, and soon husband Leigh became concerned about her size.
Meryem ate healthily in front of her husband but, determined to keep her overeating a secret, would scoff her favourite snacks when he wasn’t around.
She said: “When I was home alone, I’d secretly gorge on crisps and chocolate then stuff the wrappers in the bin to hide the evidence.
“I felt guilty but I loved food so much.”
Not even a stark health warning from her doctor could convince her to ditch her favourite junk food. She said: “My GP told me I was obese and at risk of a heart attack.
“His warning scared me but it still wasn’t enough to shock me out of comfort eating even though I was desperately unhappy with my size 24 frame.”
Meryem’s weight was also preventing her from playing with her children.
She said: “My boys would beg me to play with them in the park after school.
“But I’d have to sit and watch as I could barely walk without breaking a sweat.
“And theme parks were out of the question - the bar on the rides would never shut over my belly.”
During a family holiday to Centre Parcs, Meryem managed just two lengths of the swimming pool, before she was left breathless.
Her children were even beginning to notice her larger size, too.
“Thomas and Daniel would try to hug me but their arms wouldn’t fit around my belly,” explained Meryem.
Then, in February 2014, son Thomas proudly showed off a picture he’d drawn at school.
The image was a family portrait - with all members depicted as stick figures - except for his mum Meryem, who he’d drawn as a round squiggle.
She says: “The picture of me was a blob! It was the wake-up call I needed and I finally realised how my children saw me.
“I was eating myself into an early grave and I refused to let my kids be ashamed of their mum.”
The next day, Meryem signed up for Slimming World where she attended weekly meetings and weigh-ins.
Her 5ft 3in frame weighed in at 20st - with a BMI of 49.6.
She said: “Instead of my fatty feasts, I learnt to cook healthy delicious stews and stir fries. The weight dropped off me and, in 11 months, I lost 5st.
“Watching my waist shrink was incredible.”
By February this year, Meryem had shed a staggering 10st - losing half her body weight. She said that buying size 10 clothes for the first time in decades was “an incredible feeling”.
“Even though I’m at my target weight, I still attend my weekly Slimming World meetings,” she said.
“Now I’m a yummy mummy and I’m bursting with energy. Best of all my sons can wrap their arms around me for a hug - something they’d never been able to do before. And it’s all thanks to my children’s brutal honesty.
“I’ll never take my health and body for granted ever again.”