14/08/2014 16:52 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Unhappy Mum Spent £11,000 On Fast Food And Ballooned To 22 Stones

Unhappy mum spent £11,000 on fast food and ballooned to 22 stone

During her unhappy marriage, a mum-of-three's addiction to fast food was so extreme that she spent £11,000 on takeaways, sweets and cakes – and ballooned to 22 stone.

Mel Francis's dress size went up to a size 26 after her three-year binge when her relationship went sour.

But Mel, 41, from Ystrad, South Wales, finally saw the light after her mum told her she was worried about her health.

This inspired her to lose nine stone and drop six dress sizes.

Mel, 41, said: "I lived to eat. All I thought about was food. It was on my mind constantly. I was a complete junk food addict.

"I could easily spend £10 a day on my fix for rubbish. I was spending so much day to day that I had no chance to save for any luxuries, like a holiday."

Mel's over-eating started as a child, but it was after getting married in 1997 that she went into overdrive.

She said her marriage left her so unhappy that she 'ate to numb the pain' of her problems.

"In three years I put on seven stone, but I just didn't care," she said.

"When my marriage broke down three years later it was a relief but I was completely in denial about just how fat I'd got. I resigned myself to being a fat girl."

Comfort eating and doing no exercise was a lethal combination.

"I weighed 22st 8lb and my bulges hurt under my size 26 clothing," she said.

"The slightest thing exhausted me and climbing the stairs left me breathless. But even the scales didn't spur me on at first. I kept telling myself I'd sort myself out one day."

Then Mel turned 40 and after her mum's concern, she decided to act.

She says: "I realised I was a heart attack waiting to happen. I didn't want to leave my kids without a mum so I decided to give the LighterLife diet a go.

"It is a very strict diet of milkshakes, porridge, bars and soups and I never imagined I could stick to it.

"It's only 600 calories a day so not for the faint-hearted. But surprisingly, the replacement meals were delicious.

"After three days I didn't feel hungry. After a week I stood on the scales and had lost 10lb. I couldn't take it in.

"My kids were so pleased to see me smiling again and I realised how happy that made me. I wanted to lose the weight for them."

She added: "After nine months I had lost nine stone and finally reached my target weight of 13st 5lb. My counsellor told me I was an inspiration. When I realised I had lost the weight of one whole person, that felt pretty amazing.

"My confidence soared too. I felt and looked like a different person. Mel bought a slinky size 14 dress and now embarks on a strict exercise regime to maintain her new figure.

She said "It's like I've stepped out of my old body and feel brand new."