'I've gone from a size 18 to a size six so I can have my dream baby' - Gedling woman sheds the pounds so she can have IVF
A WOMAN who shed 7st in a year to increase her chances of having a baby says her life has changed completely.
Emma Barnes, 34, of Gedling, got active after doctors told her she was overweight and had to lose at least 4st to become eligible for IVF treatment following a failed pregnancy in 2008.
She suffered an ectopic pregnancy when the fertilised egg implanted itself in a fallopian tube rather than the womb.
Doctors at the Queen's Medical Centre's fertility unit told her the best option would be IVF.
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However, with a height of 5ft and a weight of 14st 11lb, her body mass index (BMI) was more than 40 when it must be 30 or under to be eligible for the fertility treatment.
Mrs Barnes, who went from a size 18 to a size six, became so slim that a family friend who saw her with husband David suspected he was having an affair with another woman.
"People don't recognise me – they think I'm a different person," Mrs Barnes, a freelance dog groomer, said.
The weight loss has changed her life, Mrs Barnes added, and brought the couple closer together – they are now planning to renew their wedding vows because they don't like how they look in their wedding photos from 2006.
"I feel like I am finally the person I am meant to be – I feel absolutely fantastic," she said.
"I've had to change my entire wardrobe. It's a great feeling."
Mrs Barnes said she started to put on weight in 2001 after the death of her 52-year-old father, Geoff Pickard, who had bowel cancer.
"I was 21 and it was horrible. So I ate to make me feel better," she said.
After the doctors' advice she joined a Slimming World club in Mapperley in 2009 and managed to lose 2st but later piled on the pounds again.
"I finally decided to do it and snap out of my depression on New Year's Eve in 2010," she said.
Mrs Barnes joined another Slimming World group at St George's Centre in Netherfield in January 2011 and took up exercise with her husband, who offered moral support.
The two also joined the gym at Carlton Forum Leisure Centre in March 2011.
Mr Barnes, 33, a warehouse supervisor who also managed to lose 5st, said at first it was hard to motivate his wife.
"Whether we went swimming or running, she'd be moaning 'I can't do it'.
"But once we got past that, we both really enjoyed it.
"Now, you can't stop her – it's her dragging me to the gym if I don't feel like going."
Mrs Barnes underwent her first IVF treatment on the NHS in August 2011 but the result was another ectopic pregnancy.
She tried again at the cost of £6,000 last February but with no success and the baby plans are now shelved for a year.
Gedling Borough Council is now launching a new campaign at all its leisure centres to encourage others to improve their fitness.
The council's Commit To Get Fit campaign offers new members a full refund on their gym joining fee if they attend twice a week for the first eight weeks.
Councillor Darrell Pulk said: "The story of Emma and David is a fantastic one and shows that with self belief and hard work you can improve your lifestyle and even have some fun doing it."
For more information, visit www.gedling.gov.uk or call 0115 987 2333.
Read how Emma's diet has changed here.