A mum-of-three has celebrated finalising her divorce by looking better than ever after shedding five stone from her flabby size 22 figure to bag a slinky size 10 revenge body.
Lou Bentley, 36, from Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, had always struggled with her weight since being a teenager, confessing takeaway chips were her weakness and finding herself scoffing fast food for dinner on most nights.
But after the supervisor married at 20, her cravings crept up and by the time she gave birth to her third child, Lou had ballooned to a size 22, weighing nearly 14st 7lbs.
Feeling anxious, lonely and depressed as her marriage began to break down, Lou started swapping the savoury treats for lean home-cooked meals in 2010 and now the fitness fanatic has even installed a gym in her garage to keep up with her vigorous daily exercise routine.
Now the slimmed down stunner, who weighs just 9st 10lbs, has finally settled her divorce after two and half years of negotiations and believes she looks the ‘best she ever has’
Lou said: “I think I’m the best I have ever been. I’m 36 years old and I feel happier than ever and look better than I did when I was younger.
“Before, I didn’t look after myself at all, I never did my hair or make up. Now I take so much more pride in my appearance.
“I’d never wear dresses or skirts, I only ever wore trousers before I lost weight.
“I’ve closed one door and I’m opening a new one, I can get on with my life now.
“I’m leaving my ex in the best shape I’ve ever been in and I can finally find happiness in the skin I’m in now.
“I’m stronger than ever.”
In 2004, Lou married her boyfriend – who served in the army – and moved 48 miles away from her family to live in army quarters at Dishforth Airfield.
To live in army quarters you have to be married, so the couple quickly tied the knot and soon after, Lou became pregnant with the first of her three children – Katie, 14, Nathan, 13, and Holly, nine.
Eventually the family moved even further away when they relocated to Germany in 2009, but with her newlywed husband often posted far away, and away from all family, the lonely mum became down and depressed looking after the children by herself.
After having struggled with her weight from a young age and suffering with bulimia as a teen, the army wife ballooned to her biggest size, a 22 and weighing 14st 7lbs, after giving birth to Holly – and felt so low that she couldn’t look at herself.
Lou said: “I have struggled with my weight my whole life. Going through school I was always bigger than my friends, I got picked on for having big boobs and I was always a size 14 or 16.
“Chips were definitely my downfall. I had bulimia when I was 19, I lost four stone in just three months.
“I was so ill, but when my parents found out I stopped and I put all of the weight straight back on again.
“A few years after I got married, we put in to go out to Germany because we’d heard the money was good and we had some friends there already but when we were out there I became really depressed because I was even further away from home.
“I had my third child in Germany and it was really difficult not having my family around me.
“My husband was sent to Afghanistan while I was looking after three children on my own.
“After I’d had Holly, I was a size 22, I became really anxious and I was sick of not being able to look in the mirror – that’s when I decided it was time to start losing weight.”
Determined to change her ways, Lou started watching her calorie intake and started counting her steps, using a Wii Fit to keep active while stuck in the house.
But despite returning to the UK in 2012, Lou’s marriage started to break down and in January 2017 the couple decided to separate amicably.
Just last week their divorce was finalised and the young mum celebrated with her children, who treated her to a homemade divorce cake.
But the biggest reward has been her transformed body, which made her feel like a completely different person.
Lou said: “I had no social life really so I pushed myself to work out as much as I could and I even got a Wii Fit.
“Slowly the weight began coming off.
“Eventually, I became addicted to fitness.
“It helped with my anxiety and I even got into body building for a few years.
“When we moved back to the UK and I decided to install a gym in my garage so I could maximise my time with the kids and keep up my work out routine.
“Now, I get up at 6am every morning and do 30 mins of cardio on the treadmill and then another 45 mins of weights.”
While Lou has already found a new love, she insisted doesn’t need a man to be happy, adding that ‘at 36 she looks the best she ever has’.
She added: “I was unhappy for a long time and I was lonely because for most of the marriage I had been on my own.
“The marriage broke down and we grew apart, so when we decided to separate, he filed for divorce almost immediately.
“I’ve had friends asking me for diet advice and people who haven’t seen me since school say they didn’t even recognise me, it makes me feel great.
“Now, I’m very happy in my new relationship but I’m very independent and I don’t need a man, I’ve come through my marriage learning that.
“I do feel really proud of myself for my new body, it’s a sense of achievement because I’ve changed my whole life.”
LOU’S DIET – BEFORE
Breakfast – sugary cereals
Lunch – sandwich, crisps and a chocolate bar
Dinner – takeaway chips and pizzas
LOU’S DIET – AFTER
Breakfast – eggs on wholemeal bread
Lunch – chicken and rice
Dinner – lean steak mince or chicken with sweet potatoes