Byline: BY SUZANNE FINNEY
ANGELA Peckham sat her two young children on her knee and flicked through the family photo album. "It's nice that we've got photos of nanny, isn't it?" she told them. "That's how you remember people when they have died - through photographs and memories."
Her son Ben, now eight, and daughter Jade, six, looked up at her. And with sadness in his voice Ben replied, "How would we ever remember you, mummy? You never have your picture taken with us."
Angela was mortified, but it was true. She was 22 stone and would dive for cover whenever anyone produced a camera.
"I hated what I looked like and there was no way I wanted to pose for pictures," recalls Angela, 32, of Whiteley, Hampshire. "I tried to blend into the background as much as possible - not easy when you're a size 28!"
But Ben's comments hit home. He clearly enjoyed looking at old photos of his grandma who had passed away in February 2004. But although there were stacks of pictures of the children, there were hardly any of the whole family.
"What Ben said really made me think," says Angela. "If anything did happen to me, they would have little to keep my memory alive. His comment made me determined to lose the weight for good.
"Not long after, as I dropped the kids off at school, a friend told me she was going to a slimming club that lunchtime and asked me to go along."
Being surrounded by others with similar weight problems helped Angela get motivated.
Later that night she told her 35-yearold husband John, who works in property: "I'll be a new woman!"
But she realised it would mean big changes in her eating habits. She would tuck into big portions of ready meals, takeaways and chocolate, shunned fruit and vegetables in favour of fatty and sugary foods, and didn't know when to stop eating.
"Unless I had to undo my trouser zip after a meal I wouldn't feel I had eaten enough," she admits. "If I snacked on a piece of bread I could easily work my way through the entire loaf. I had no portion control at all. After each meal we had a pudding and I'd often end the day by eating a bag of crisps.
"I'm an all-or-nothing kind of girl and my relationship with food reflected that."
Angela's weight crept on after she left school and gave up playing sports such as netball and badminton. "It seemed like I gained a stone a year," she says.
By the time she married John she was a size 20 - or so she thought.
"I was trying size 20 wedding dresses on and I was bulging out of them but I always had an excuse - sizes are getting smaller, I convinced myself. I'd intended to lose weight for the wedding but when it got to a month before and I hadn't lost a pound I just accepted that I'd left it too late."
After having Ben and Jade, she got bigger and bigger until she tipped the scales at 22 stone and was a size 28.
"I hated going shopping - changing rooms were my worst nightmare," she says. "Nothing would fit, so I relied on a few old favourites for every occasion."
Then in March last year she joined Weight Watchers. Slowly she started to change her bad eating habits. Instead of avoiding fresh fruit and vegetables, she piled them high in her trolley. And instead of a king-sized chocolate bar, she snacked on fresh strawberries or an apple.
"After a couple of weeks I started to enjoy it," she says. "I loved cooking from scratch and the children were eating more healthily too, which was important to me. …