A SELF-confessed food addict who was forced to curb her overeating for a weight loss TV show says she has now got her confidence back after shedding the pounds.
Joanne Leadley (42), of Shawbridge, Harlow, applied to take part in Channel 4’s Supersize Vs Superskinny last year after tipping the scales at almost 22 stone.
"My weight had only really become a problem since settling down with my husband, Ian, 12 years ago," said Joanne. "We both share a passion for fine food and it wasn’t long before I was piling on the pounds.
"It wasn’t even just breakfast, lunch and dinner that were the problem. I was constantly grazing on all sorts of unhealthy snacks in between meals and I just couldn’t seem to stop."
Her expanding waistline was preventing her from walking anything other than short distances and after being diagnosed with asthma, high blood pressure and osteoarthritis, the mum-of-one was becoming increasingly concerned she might not live to see nine-year-old son Oliver grow up.
"It was when I really started having trouble walking that I thought enough is enough and became really determined to do something about it," she said.
"With my other health problems, I knew that if I didn’t do something to lose weight I probably wouldn’t be around to see my little boy grow up.
"Picking up the phone to Channel 4 was a really difficult thing to do, but since being accepted onto the show I haven’t looked back."
The show’s producers flew Joanne to the USA where she came face to face with a woman whose spiralling weight had left her confined to a wheelchair.
"It was like a vision of my future if I didn’t do something urgently," she said. "It was just the kind of reality check I needed."
On her return to the UK, Joanne entered a weight loss clinic run by celebrity doctor Christian Jessen, where she swapped diets with meal-dodger Ross Clarke for a week in a bid to curb her overeating.
"It was really tough at first," she said. "He hardly ate a thing whereas I normally spent the day stuffing my face.
"But it was a real eye-opener and I gradually started to get used to eating less. The doctors left me in no doubt as to what could happen to me if I didn’t change my eating habits, and that spurred me on."
Joanne lost 22lbs during filming last October and has gone on to shed another 13lbs since.
"I’m definitely sticking to my new regime, and my whole family is eating healthier as a result," she added.
"I feel so much better, both physically and mentall, and I’ve got my confidence back. I’ve proved to myself that I can make changes for the better, and that in itself is incredibly rewarding."
Joanne’s story is featured on the next episode of Supersize Vs Superskinny, which will be broadcast on Channel 4 at 8pm on Tuesday (January 15).