28-stone gran who couldn't walk without frame becomes bodybuilder
| Last updated
A grandma who used to weigh more than 28st has gone from being unable to walk without a frame to smashing it as a bodybuilder – saying the sport has ‘completely changed’ her life after it helped her shed a whopping 18st. Watch her in action here:
Dee Hodgson, 53, used to tip the scales at 28st 11, and struggled to fit into size 34 clothing.
Finding she was also in constant pain from her size, doctors suspected the mum-of-four and gran-of-eight was suffering from fibromyalgia, a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body.
Knowing what she was eating wasn’t helping her symptoms, Hodgson embarked on a ‘caveman diet’, meaning she only ate ‘natural’ foods like fresh vegetables and high protein meats with little fat – in turn losing six stone in six months without even setting foot in a gym.
After a year, she was 12st down and decided to join her local fitness centre to work out and take part in classes.
The mental health peer recovery worker now feels like a ‘new woman’ after losing an incredible 18st, taking her to a size 10-12.
Hodgson, from Willenhall, West Midlands, said: "My weight got out of control.
"At first, I wasn't dieting to lose weight, I just wanted to feel better and to help ease the symptoms of my health conditions.
"But the pounds quickly fell off me and it gave me the motivation to keep going.
"I started going to the gym and fell in love with working out. Then I tried my hand at bodybuilding – and absolutely loved it.
"Now I've lost 18st, I feel like a completely different person.
"I have so much more energy, I'm so much happier – it's completely changed my life.
“I did a lot of classes to start with, but when I started working with a personal trainer, I developed a passion for weights.
"He introduced me to weightlifting and that was the start of my bodybuilding journey.
"I’ve done a couple of dance competitions to raise money for charity, and I’m competing in a body building competition in November in High Wycombe.
"I’m in the transformation class, so it’s all about the journey.
"They will show a ‘before’ picture before I come out on stage. It’s about showcasing the way you’ve built your body.
"I’m petrified but really excited! I’ve always had body image issues but this is all part of my recovery.
"It’s so far out of my comfort zone, I’ll be out in a tiny bikini with all my scars and loose skin on show, but I hope that it will inspire others.”
Hodgon’s weight problems also left her with other health conditions, including type two diabetes – having been on 20 different forms of medication for her physical and mental health.
But in 2016, she decided she had to make a huge change after finding that processed foods, additives and preservatives can exacerbate symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Before, she would have cereal or toast for breakfast and ‘graze through the day’ on sandwiches, cakes and whatever else was convenient, before having hearty family meals like rich, cheesy pasta and pizza followed by evening snacks of crisps, biscuits and cakes – along with lots of creamy coffees and hot chocolate.
Now Hodgson starts the day with a protein smoothie and egg white omelette with chicken or fish, a green salad with chicken sausage and a yoghurt for lunch, dishes like turkey bolognese for dinner, snacks including cereal bars and rice cakes and drinks like black coffee, ‘lots of water’ and protein powder in water.
She said her new diet was ‘very basic’, making it ‘easier to stick to’, and that she likes to meal plan and freeze batches of food for the future.
"I didn’t notice the weight loss at first, but when I hit six stone down, I realised that it was working and I might as well keep going,” Hodgson said.
"People were noticing the difference and I was feeling more mobile and healthier, and I realised that a different life really was achievable.”
Hodgson says she now just loves working out and setting ‘new goals and challenges to strive towards’.
“My personal trainer, Josh Bothwell, has helped me more than I could ever say, and the friends I’ve made at Warriors World gym in Coventry have been integral to my journey,” she said.
She is being coached by UKUP/WUP pro athlete Lisa Morrison, and trains at Simply Gym in Earl Place, Coventry – and can now leg press 335kg, deadlift 80kg and bench press 46kg.
Hodgson said her body was previously ‘collapsing’ due to her obesity, but that once she lost the weight she ‘wasn’t in pain anymore’.
"Bodybuilding has changed my life and I don’t use that phrase lightly. I now look at myself with pride,” she continued.
“I’ve gone from hating my reflection to really liking the person looking back at me. I finally feel proud of my body,” Dee said.
"I had to make dramatic changes to my lifestyle and undergo two surgeries to get rid of two stone of excess skin that I had after I lost a lot of weight very quickly.
"It’s been a really challenging and emotional journey but it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
“I’m taking back the years that were stolen from me and owning my future.”