It was her beloved Dad’s dying wish that Zoe should lose weight and become healthy.
Now, mum of two, Zoe Young, 30, of Dorset, has done just that – shedding a whopping 6.5 stone and training as a fitness instructor. “And I owe it all to Dad,” she says.
Zoe, 30, of Verwood, Dorset, had always struggled with her weight. “Dad worried so much about my health and would gently encourage me to do something about it. I tried so many diets but always ended up back at square one. The biggest problem for me was that I hated exercise.”
In June 2013 the family was stunned when her Dad, Alan, aged 67, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Sadly, he passed away just three months later leaving Zoe, who is married to Matt, 41, grief-stricken.
“I’d already lost my brother Alan, 18, to Sudden Adult Death Syndrome when I was just 10 so it was the second tragedy to hit the family. I became convinced I was going to die young, too. I spent hours googling illnesses and convincing myself I had them all. My most-asked question was ‘what cancer can you get if you’re fat?’
“I was forever at the GP surgery and would comfort eat my way through terrible anxiety attacks. It was like being on a self-destruct course but I couldn’t see a way out.”
One day, bending down to tie her shoelaces, Zoe found herself gasping for breath. “I was carrying so much extra weight I couldn’t inhale,” she recalls. “It was a real wake-up call.
“It was as if I could hear Dad’s voice in my head and realised it was time to do something.”
Zoe embarked on counselling to cope with her grief and anxiety. “Talking about my feelings helped me make sense of them,” she says. “Once the anxiety was taken away I was able to see things more clearly. I realised dieting wasn’t the solution – introducing a new healthier way of life that I could stick to – was.
“By walking every day and following a healthy eating plan I lost a stone over a couple of months but knew I needed to introduce proper exercise.”
Then in February 2016, Zoe – mum to Esmai, eight, and Molly, six, spotted an advert for a local Boogie Bounce class – exercising to music on mini trampolines. “It looked so much fun I thought I’d give it a go – and loved it. My weight made some of the moves difficult but the instructor was really encouraging and gave me less challenging moves, to start with.
“After each class I felt utterly elated. Over the weeks I could see the weight literally melting away and muscles appearing.
“But the biggest improvement was in my mind. I discovered a new-found confidence and happiness that I hadn’t dreamed possible ever again. I no longer needed to console myself with food.”
After shedding a whopping six and a half stone, Zoe is half the woman she was. Better still, she has become a Boogie Bounce instructor, herself, and now teaches her own classes four evenings a week, on top of her full time office work – helping others achieve their weight loss dreams.
“I can’t thank Dad enough for giving me the strength and encouragement to do something about my health,” she said. “He always said: “I just want you to be healthy inside and out’. And now I am. I just know he’d be immensely proud of me.”