Ella Workman, 22, is a former recruitment specialist who was determined to lose weight after seeing photos of herself on a girls night out.
At the time, she weighed 16st 9lb, and was considered obese by doctors.
She said: ‘I was wearing a brand new lovely outfit which I’d brought specially for the occasion.
‘I had an off-the-shoulder black top and a black midi skirt and all evening, as we took pictures on each other’s phones, I thought I looked good.’
But, when she looked through the photos, she didn’t feel the same way: ‘I looked at one of the pictures on my phone and thought, “Oh my goodness, what have I done?”‘
She was 19 then and wore a size 14 to 16 for her tops and a size 18 to 20 for her skirts and trousers.
‘When I saw that photograph, I realised I was a lot bigger than I thought I was,’ Ella remembered. ‘That was when I told myself, “I need to do something about this”.’
Ella blames her weight gain on having the money to buy cookies and doughnuts after getting a weekend job at 16, despite having healthy eating habits at home.
Ella tried a variety of diet plans and exercise regimes at first but none of them worked.
In April 2020, in the midst of the first Covid-19 lockdown, Ella began a new approach to her weight loss and shared her discovery on Instagram.
Instead of being concerned with her weight, Ella was more concerned with the percentage of body fat she carries.
She combined a healthy diet with rigorous gym workouts and Thai boxing sessions and has gone down several sizes.
Ella, who continues to work on her body tone, now wears a size 10 top and a size 10 to 12 bottom.
‘By April 2020, I’d spent a year trying to find something that worked for me, so I was now counting calories, cooking from scratch and posting photos of the meals I was making.’
‘People think if you are dieting then the food has to be boring and tasteless and that you can only eat skinless chicken and rice and veg. But that’s rubbish.’
Ella shared several photos of her ‘fakeaway’ creations, including one of a Nando’s style chicken dish that wasn’t ‘boring’ at all.
‘I also use Lo-Dough, which is a low-carb, high-fibre product, to make low calorie pizzas and brownies and I make a Southern-style coating for chicken – everything is delicious.’
When Ella began her diet, she was only consuming 1,600 calories a day, reduced to 1,300 when she started going to the gym, despite NHS advice of at least 2,000 calories a day for women maintaining a healthy weight.
She increased her intake to 1,900 calories a day after realising that she was not eating enough in combination with her exercise regime.
‘I haven’t set myself a weight loss goal,’ she said. ‘I don’t believe there is a so-called ‘good’ weight, but feel that it is more about the muscle to fat ratio, a healthy lifestyle, and feeling good about yourself.’
‘I used to be on the scales all the time, but now I don’t bother. Instead, I go by how I look and feel.’
Ella is now very passionate about health and fitness after going through her own complex journey with weight loss. She qualified as a personal trainer in 2021 and is hoping to qualify as a nutritionist this year too to continue offering delicious and low-calorie meals to people.
She hopes to offer online coaching for women and those who want to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way.
Though Ella was nervous when she first started going to the gym, she now loves it, and even goes to three strength training sessions and three Thai boxing sessions a week.
‘The best thing of all is that I don’t hate it, so I’m not forcing myself to eat a healthy diet and work out,’ she said.
‘It took a while to find what worked for me – almost a year really – so I would say to anyone else who wants to lose weight that they may need to try a few things before they find something they enjoy, which works for them and that they will stick to.’
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