AS an overweight teenager, Jo-Dee McMahon got used to laughing off the cruel remarks but she’ll never forget being called a whale.
Eating for comfort, by age nine she was 9st, her weight climbing with her age until at 13, she reached 13st.
“I was always the fat friend,” she recalled. “But I was big and I got to the stage where I just expected the comments.”
Now the 22-year-old singer from New Cumnock in Ayrshire is having the last laugh as she struts her stuff before the same people who once mocked her.
Through diet and exercise, she has dropped three dress sizes to become a 10 and is now every inch the singing star.
“I was bullied at school for being fat,” she said.
“I always got comments from guys at school. It was just cruel kids but I would think, ‘In a few years, you’re not going to be saying that’.
“Now I sing to the folk I went to school with and they’re always coming up and complimenting me.”
But there was one comment that still stays with Jo-Dee to this day.
“I remember this one guy called me a whale. I saw him four weeks ago and he said, ‘holy s***, you look great’.
“He laughed and I said thanks very much but I’ll always remember he called me a whale. Some things just stick with you.”
Jo-Dee took up singing at 13, spending her spare time rehearsing and performing to pursue her dream, which she also hid behind.
She said: “When the weekends came around I’d be singing at night. Any chance I did get to go out with my friends, I would always be the biggest one of them all. I felt terrible because I was so big. My singing kept me going.
“I knew if I was confident in the way I spoke, the weight thing wouldn’t crop up. People would say, ‘You’re a big lassie and so confident.’
“But I didn’t want to be the big singer, I wanted to be the sexy singer. I wanted to be the full package, not just a voice. There’s nothing worse than just being seen as a voice.”
And while Jo-Dee got used to unkind remarks from strangers and kids at school, when those close to her mentioned her weight she would become upset.
“Mum would always say, ‘No, don’t wear that’, obviously because I didn’t suit it. She’d say, ‘Why not try to lose a bit of weight?’ and I’d get so defensive and I’d go and binge eat because I would be upset about it.
“Then I looked at the singers in magazines and on TV and realised none of them were fat, so I knew I would have to lose weight if I was to make a career out of it.”
Jo-Dee joined a gym when she was 17 and later a WeightWatchers class run by Sunday Mail diet expert Christine Mitchell – and the pounds soon fell off.
But when she met her partner Callum and became pregnant, she found herself sliding back into her old eating ways, often munching her way through family-size bars of chocolate.
She said: “Getting to the gym and feeling good about myself was where I wanted to be. But then I met someone, fell pregnant and put on five-and-a-half stone. It was like going back to square one.
“I ate Galaxy, Galaxy, Galaxy. I would eat two of the family-size bars a day. I had takeaways too, salt and vinegar crisps and ice cream.”
After giving birth to baby girl Rii last June, she was tipping the scales at 14st 2lb, and a size 16.
But rather than sitting around feeling sorry for herself, Jo-Dee swung into action and took herself straight back to her WeightWatchers class.
“After you have a baby, the nurses offer you tea and toast and I said, ‘no, my diet’s starting now’,” she laughed. “Course I did eat it for the energy but my mind was already there. I rested for four days and then I needed to get out and walk. I walked every day.
“Five weeks after giving birth, I went back to Christine at WeightWatchers. Looking forward to my meetings kept me going. I knew I would lose weight because I was sticking to the plan.”
Jo-Dee followed the ProPoints eating plan, through which members are shown how to eat more healthily without excluding their favourite foods.
She swapped those family-size chocolate bars for fruit and yoghurt and, in just nine months, has dropped to nine stone and a very trim size 10.
She said: “When I feel like I need to eat something, I’ll have melon, grapes and banana in a bowl and I have that three times a day on top of my healthy meals. I don’t even miss the old diet. I still have a wee Curly Wurly now and then but fruit and yoghurt are my saviour.”
Jo-Dee stays motivated by attending classes with Christine every Thursday.
She said: “I look forward to going every week – the classes keep me healthy and feeling great. The friends I meet there are interested in the same things as me.
“They want to feel healthy and improve themselves.
“Christine’s brilliant. No matter how rubbish your week’s been, whenever I see her I’m straight back to it.”
And with her confidence at an all-time high, Jo-Dee is also back to performing as well as working on her own music.
She said: “I have two sides to my work, performing at pubs, clubs and weddings, and my own music.
“I released my album Fallen on to iTunes and I’m really enjoying myself. I’m thinner now than before I had Rii because I was determined to get back to feeling good on stage, feeling confident and being the best I could be for Rii and my work.”
And though those cruel taunts are just a distant memory, Jo-Dee is grateful for how far she’s come.
“It’s amazing because some of the people I knew look up to me because of what I do and the places I go to but I never had that at school.
“Now I’m where I want to be and some of them don’t even have a job or a family. They’re stuck in a rut.
“I should have just been myself all along, because I knew I was going to have the last laugh.”
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Posted By: PowerC |
4/24/13 11:36 AM
Its awful when your own friends refer to you as the fat friend even though you know its true you wish they would say my nice friend or my funny friend. Anything but the fat friend.I like jo-dee was a little chubby but now that I am in my 30s I make sure I eat healthy and stay in shape for myself!
Posted By: 2for1 |
4/25/13 2:52 PM
Proper dieting improves your mind as well as your body so not only will you look better but you will feel so much better too!