Drop a dress size by Christmas (while stuffing your face with pies)

Drop a dress size by Christmas (while stuffing your face with mince pies): Can’t bear the thought of cutting carbs or running in the rain? These women have all lost more than four stone – just by ditching drink

  • Research shows almost half of Brits gained weight between late March and June
  • Another survey found 21 per cent of adults increased booze consumption 
  • Three women reveal they shed over 14 stone between them by quitting drink 

During the last lockdown, women everywhere reported increases in two things: Our alcohol intake and our weight.

Almost half of Brits said they got fatter — the dreaded ‘corona stone’ — between late March and mid-June, according to one survey by Kings College London and Ipsos MORI.

Meanwhile, in a different survey, by charity Alcohol Change UK, 21 per cent of adults who drink admitted to consuming more booze during the same period, when so many were working from home with little else to do by way of recreation.

Given that there are around 200 calories in a large glass of wine — and who settles for a small glass when pouring their own? — these areas of growth were no doubt, in most cases, inextricably linked.

Women who’ve shed their excess pounds by giving up alcohol shared their experiences, including Emma Bellinger, 45, (pictured) from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, who lost 6st

And as we now know, keeping trim has never been more important, given the link between excess weight and Covid survival rates.

But just how much difference would it make to our waistlines if, instead of ‘saving’ calories for wine, we ditched the booze altogether? Before you pop another lockdown cork, read the illuminating accounts of three women who have lost a staggering 14-and-a-half stone between them . . .

I ditched the Prosecco — and lost six stone!

Emma Bellinger, 45, is a personal assistant and mum of two from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, who has lost six stone, going from a size 20 to a size 14, since giving up drinking four years ago. She says:

I woke up on October 23, 2016, the morning after my friend’s 50th birthday party, feeling shockingly hungover, barely able to remember a thing that had happened.

On top of the pounding head and nausea I felt guilt as it also happened to be my 12th wedding anniversary and I was definitely in no fit state to celebrate.

I decided there and then that my relationship with alcohol was becoming unhealthy — I was drinking too much, not only bingeing at parties, but knocking it back every night at home too — and it had to stop.

Never did it cross my mind that this would help me lose the excess weight I’d carried most of my adult life, but shedding six stone has been a wonderful side-effect of sobriety.

It shouldn’t have come as such a huge surprise, I suppose, given that I was drinking a bottle of wine every night, more at weekends — taking in an extra 5,000 calories a week.

Emma (pictured before) who is 5ft tall, said she once tipped scales at 16st 7lb and wore a UK size 20 as she drank a bottle of wine every night 

Opening a bottle of prosecco was how I wound down after a hard day’s work, followed by an evening feeding, bathing and looking after our two children. It’s shocking to me now but plenty of women I know do the same. Consequently, I was used to feeling tired, groggy and anxious during the day, and, to make matters worse, I’d eat sugary, starchy foods — chocolate, Haribo sweets and bread — in an attempt to keep my energies up.

Not surprisingly, the weight piled on and, by that stage, I weighed a colossal 16st 7lb and was a size 20, despite being a petite 5ft tall.

It was only when I stopped drinking that I realised alcohol was to blame. When I’d tried to lose weight, surviving on salads and cabbage soups and sweating it out in boot camps, I’d still open a bottle and wonder why getting slim felt such an uphill struggle.

After stopping the booze, I’d sit down in front of the TV at the end of another demanding day, and feel deprived of my nightly treat.

I stopped buying prosecco, so there wasn’t any in the house to tempt me — my husband has only ever had the occasional beer — but there were always chocolate bars and sweets, ostensibly for the kids, so I’d gorge on those instead.

But they didn’t have the same calming, soporific effect as alcohol so, within a few weeks, I found them easier to resist than a glass of fizz.

No longer being sluggish and hungover in the day also meant my cravings for sweets and carbs pretty much disappeared too and, though I ate the same meals, including cheesy dishes and Chinese takeaways, I got a pleasant surprise every time I stepped on the scales. I’d struggled with my weight my whole adult life and, once I’d removed the 20,000 calories a month I consumed in drink, it became obvious why.

Slimming clubs or special diets weren’t needed. Giving up booze alone meant the weight fell off. It wasn’t just cutting the prosecco calories, having a clearer head meant I made better food choices.

Emma (pictured) revealed she shed six stone within two years and has received lots of compliments since she slimmed down 

Initially, I was losing a couple of pounds a week, which was really noticeable, then it slowed down to two or three pounds a month. Within two years, I’d shed six stone and weighed a far healthier, 10st 7lb.

The slimmed-down me received lots of compliments though some were reluctant to believe it was all thanks to me now being teetotal.

When ditching wine o’clock is unthinkable, it’s not the kind of secret you want to be let in on.

I would like to lose another stone, but I’m not a fan of gyms and, if I fancy a biscuit or a slice of cake, I won’t deprive myself.

But there’s no danger I’ll start drinking again and go back to my old weight; I can’t even bear the smell of prosecco now, or to be around people when they’re drunk. I still enjoy a good party, but I usually leave earlier, rather than end up as the taxi driver, as happened in the early days.

I guess it was a small price to pay for no longer feeling sluggish every day — and being six stone lighter.

Some nights i’d have two bottles of wine

Dawn Comolly, 46, from Dorset, works in property management. She’s lost 4st 8lb and gone from a size 20 to size 14, since stopping drinking four years ago. She says:

Dawn Comolly, 46,(pictured) from Dorset, who once wore a UK size 20, said she had a habit of drinking two bottles of wine at least four nights a week 

Feeling increasingly uncomfortable about my habit of drinking two bottles of wine at least four nights a week — despite the terrible hangovers — I decided to quit drinking for the whole of 2017, just to prove to myself that I could live without it.

I started earlier than planned, in November 2016, when I was floored by a very nasty dose of flu that left me bedridden, and unable to even think about alcohol, for two weeks.

Until then, I’d been getting through eight bottles of wine a week, red or white, I wasn’t fussy — lord knows what the recycling binmen thought — plus countless gins and tonic, as well as shots, on nights out.

I don’t know if I suffered withdrawal symptoms because I was too unwell to notice, but I don’t believe I was dependent on alcohol, it was more psychological.

As an extra incentive to stay on the wagon, I started a blog in December 2016, called Soberfish Story, where I shared my experiences of quitting drinking.

Having always worried life without wine would be dull, I was surprised to find the opposite was true and I actually enjoyed sober evenings —and hangover-free days.

Dawn (pictured before) began a blog about her experience of giving up alcohol, having lost over a stone in the first month 

However, what I hadn’t bargained for was the utter joy of losing over a stone in the first month, the weight comes off quickly at first when you’re as heavy as I was — 17st 10lb — which, even at my 5ft 10in, is dangerously obese.

I’d tried countless diets over the years, with little effect because, I now realise, I never took into account the 6,000-plus additional calories that I was consuming every week in wine and gin.

I don’t have scales in my house, otherwise I’d have been tempted to jump on them several times a day in the past, so I signed up to a weight-loss group and, though I didn’t actually follow the diet, I didn’t need to.

I turned up every week to classes just to get weighed.

And I could not believe how much weight I was losing — nor could those who read my blog — simply from being teetotal.

The only other change I made was to go for a daily walk to ensure I’d be able to sleep at night, having relied on alcohol to nod off.

Within six months, I’d lost more than 4 stone and that joyous outcome sealed my fate as a lifelong teetotaller.

Dawn (pictured  before) said she had yo-yoed her whole life and convinced herself that liquid couldn’t affect her weight 

What started out as a year-long experiment for me has become a complete lifestyle change.

Until four years ago, my weight had yo-yoed my whole life — I’d lose a stone, have a celebratory bottle of wine and then, my willpower shot, be tempted to order a takeaway to mop up the booze.

Before long that stone would creep back on.

Foolishly, I convinced myself that, as it was only liquid, unlike chocolate and cakes, alcohol couldn’t really affect my weight.

However, as a sober person, and no longer having intense cravings for pasta and bread to ease my hang-overs, I was losing over half a stone a month — and it was staying off.

My friends were supportive. As I was writing a blog about it they were also well aware that the weight loss was the result of my sobriety.

Some were even tempted into giving it a go themselves, and were successful.

They also understood that a night down the pub had lost its appeal for me so now we meet for lunch, or walks, instead.

Dawn (pictured) said the old, overweight, party girl me would not recognise this new healthy, happy, teetotal and slimmed down version 

As a spin-off from my blog I have a private Facebook membership group, called the Fish Followers Society, made up of people inspired to stop drinking by my story, many of whom are as interested in the weight loss as the sobriety. It’s a labour of love because I feel so passionately about the huge health benefits — losing so much weight has greatly reduced my risks of getting serious diseases.

The old, overweight, party girl me would not recognise this new healthy, happy, teetotal and slimmed down version.

The thing i’d never cut out was booze

Nicola Judge, 40, is a human resources adviser and mum of three from Newark, Nottinghamshire, who lost four stone — going from size 18 to a 12 — after stopping drinking in January 2018. She says: 

It was when I separated from my husband of 12 years, and found myself in sole charge of our three children, that I knew I had to kick my wine habit.

Unhappy in my marriage, I’d slipped into drinking at least half a bottle of red wine in front of the TV during the week and as much as a bottle and a half on weekend nights. I didn’t think I had a problem but nor did I want to be under the influence home alone with our children, now 11, nine and four.

Nicola Judge, 40, (pictured) from Newark, said her weight crept up after the birth of her youngest son 

My weight had crept up to 14st 10lb, heavy for my 5ft 6in frame, in the couple of years since my youngest son was born, something I’d never really put down to my booze habit.

But as the weight started coming off, knowing I hadn’t done anything to alter my diet, I totted up how many calories I’d been consuming in alcohol while getting through an average of seven bottles of red wine a week.

I was staggered to discover that, with up to 640 calories in each bottle, I was consuming around 4,500 in wine alone. Every week.

The average person is advised to stick to no more than 2,000 calories a day, so I was drinking more than the equivalent of an extra two days’ worth of food weekly.

I don’t think it’s unusual for a woman with a high-pressure job, three kids and a marriage that wasn’t working. We convince ourselves we’re entitled to a daily tipple to help us cope with the challenges of life and feel better.

Once I’d had a couple of drinks, any willpower would wane and I’d crave bread and crackers, which completely negated the benefits of having had a chicken salad for my dinner.

I track my weight on my Fitbit and, noticing I’d lost half a stone within a month — despite still enjoying my usual sausage sandwiches, lattes from Starbucks and banana bread — I didn’t make the link at first and panicked, thinking: ‘Is there something wrong with me? Could I have cancer?’

In fact, I felt better than I had in years so never went as far as making an appointment with my GP.

Nicola (pictured before) who was once consuming 4,500 calories a week in booze alone, said she was able to steadily shed 2lb a week by not drinking alcohol 

People started noticing that I looked slimmer.

It was a friend who joined the dots and said: ‘Maybe it’s because you’ve stopped drinking?’

Suddenly I went from being the boring friend who no longer wanted to crack open a bottle to being the one who had discovered the secret to weight loss, without dieting. Over the months that followed, the weight kept coming off at a steady, healthy rate of around 2lb a week, and, by the end of 2018, I was four stone lighter, weighing 10st 10b.

Colleagues and acquaintances kept telling me I looked ‘amazing’ or ‘fantastic’ and asking how I’d done it. When I said it was quitting alcohol they’d say ‘No way!’

Some would moan that they’d cut out bread or fat or whatever and were as heavy as ever and it was hard not saying: ‘Are you aware how much sugar there is in wine?’

Not many people want to face up to that. I was the same.

I’ve tried dieting countless times but the one thing I never cut out before was alcohol.

Nicola (pictured) said it’ll take a lot less material to make her wedding dress now that she’s gone from a size 18 to a 12

If I lost 10lb I’d foolishly think that gave me carte blanche to celebrate with a few gins.

The hardest times were when I went away for work and had to break the habit of nipping down to the hotel bar for a couple glasses of wine.

However, a couple of weeks after my ex moved out, I decided that it was time to ditch the self-pity and signed up for the dating app Tinder.

I met a man, now my fiancé, who, I was delighted to discover, doesn’t drink either. Instead of making dating daunting it was actually great to be completely sober throughout and remember everything about our evenings together, rather than waking up with terrible ‘hangxiety’ about whether I’d made a fool of myself.

An added bonus is that I’m a slip of a girl, compared to when we began dating, even though he was clearly attracted to me then, too.

He has been proud and supportive of me throughout.

Due to the pandemic, we haven’t set a date to get married yet but, thanks to giving up alcohol, it’ll take a lot less material to make my wedding dress than it would have during my drinking days.

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