14/08/2014 16:55 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Brother's Death Spurred 19st Mum To Lose Weight

Brother's death spurs 19st mum into weight loss action

When Natalie Jones, 37, saw her brother die of a heart attack aged just 39, it was the wake up call she needed to embark on a weight loss regime.

The mum-of-three weighed in at 19st 8lbs and was size 24 when her brother died in June, 2012, and now, 16 months later, she has slimmed down to a svelte 11 stone.

The death of her brother Mark was totally unexpected - he had been travelling in the car with his partner when he suffered a heart attack and was unable to be saved.

"He had a huge appetite and really enjoyed tucking into big portions," Natalie said. "He was a smoker too and I believe his unhealthy lifestyle contributed to his heart attack. We have no history of heart disease in our family."

Mark's death meant he left behind four children.

"I didn't want to leave my three children without a mum," she said, explaining that a routine routine test at her GPs had revealed a suspected heart murmur.

Natalie went on to have further tests which showed her heart was actually OK, but she was warned that her weight could cause her health issues in later life.

So Natalie overhauled her lifestyle, and began regularly attending a gym and paying attention to what she ate.

"I couldn't bear to give up junk food completely, so concentrated on cutting down. Instead of eating a whole chocolate bar, I'd limit myself to small squares," she said.

Exercise didn't come easy to the busy mum, and she admits her regime was 'torture at first' and that she was 'naturally lazy'.

"If I could get away with not doing something, I wouldn't do it. I knew I had to keep going for the sake of my kids. I also had an image of Mark dying at the roadside - in a place he didn't know, surrounded mostly by strangers. I was horrified by the thought of dying in a place like that."

She turned going to the gym and putting effort into physical exercise as a defense mechanism - a way of fighting back at her fears.

A month into her new way of life, Natalie was chuffed to find she had lost a stone, as was her fiance Craig Groves and their three boys, Jack three, Sam, 13, and Cole, 14, who supported her all the way.

In September this year, Natalie reached her target weight of 11 stone, having lost a massive eight stone since June 2012.

Her new slimmer body leaves her at significantly less risk of developing heart disease.

"I'm still grieving for Mark and it hurts every day that he isn't here," she said. "I wonder whether it sounds terrible to say so, but something good came from his death. It forced me to change my life. Nothing's been the same since. I think he would be proud of what I've achieved."