Fay Marshall was commuting on the London Underground when someone offered her a seat. While it seemed kind at first, Marshall quickly realized the person was offering the seat because he believed she was pregnant.
Sadly, that wasn’t the first time someone on the Tube thought she was pregnant — she was 21 years old and weighed 294 pounds.
“It was so humiliating, and I knew I couldn’t even fit in the seats,” Marshall, 23, of north London, told TODAY. “I thought, ‘This is serious.’”
Marshall had been overweight since she was 10 years old. She felt stuck in a dangerous cycle.
“The more I ate, the less I wanted to go out. And the less I got out, the more I ate,” she said.
But after her embarrassing experiences on the Tube she knew she had to change. She felt sad and overwhelmed, and her grandmother began to worry about her.
“My Nana secretly knew how down I was feeling,” Marshall said. “She said to me, ‘I am going to join Slimming World and join with me.’”
“You can adapt your meals,” Marshall explained.
Prior to joining Slimming World, Marshall had never even boiled an egg, but she slowly learned how to prepare healthy, low-fat foods and the weight started dropping off. She also exercised, but felt embarrassed to go to the gym. So, she started using DVDs at home.
“I was so shy I would shut all the curtains and blinds, so no one could see me,” she said.
After losing 70 pounds, Marshall finally had enough confidence to join a gym.
“I picked up my childhood love (swimming) which I hadn’t done since I was 7,” she said.
She attends the gym three to five times a week and added Pilates, spin, yoga and running to her routine. She even completed a couch-to-5K program.
“Before I lost weight I had really bad knees and they used to click when I walked upstairs,” she said. “I would have never even gone near exercise before."
From January 2016 to March 2017, Marshall lost 120 pounds and now weighs 174 pounds, her goal weight. (Her grandmother lost 35 pounds.) She’s happy with her new healthy lifestyle and loves her new self-esteem.
“I always thought it is my destiny to be overweight,” she said. “I achieved one of the biggest things in my life. Having more belief in myself has been life changing.”
Marshall shares advice to others hoping to shed weight.
1. "Take the plunge."
While Marshall felt desperate to lead a new healthy lifestyle, she also felt nervous to try something new. But she realized it took little effort to at least try.
“Don’t be afraid. Just take the plunge and try it,” she said. “You lose nothing if you give it a go.”
2. Set small goals.
Marshall knew that she needed to lose a lot of weight to be healthy. But thinking of losing more than 100 pounds felt overwhelming. Instead she set smaller milestones.
“If you just focus on the small step every pound will add up,” she said.
3. Get a little help.
Some weeks, Marshall did not lose weight. When it felt hopeless, her support group kept her on track.
“It was frustrating,” she said. “I would come out of group and I would feel motivated. It was really important for the other girls to say … ‘Don’t give up.’"
4. Prepare for restaurants.
Marshall still wants to enjoy going out to eat but looks at the menu ahead of time so she’s not “blindsided” by the choices. She looks for healthy options, such as chicken or baked potatoes instead of fries.
5. Stick to the plan.
It felt hard sticking to healthy eating and exercise habits when the number on the scale didn’t change. But committing a new lifestyle led to results and made Marshall feel better.
“If you just power through it becomes a way of life. The way you feel when you're done, it is so much better than when you started,” she said.