A devoted daughter from Dundee has transformed her unhealthy lifestyle after the devastating death of her mother at just 54.
Jade Kouletakis, 32, has shed five stone in the three months since her mum, Lulu, passed away following a battle with lung cancer in April.
It was Lulu’s own health issues that made Jade realise things needed to change.
The Abertay University lecturer says: “My mum was addicted to cigarettes her whole life and that eventually led to her getting lung cancer from which she died in April this year.
“When she died, I realised I was using food the way my mum was using cigarettes – I was using it as an emotional crutch.
“I needed to start loving my body and my life enough to start prioritising them.
“My mum’s death taught me doing that isn’t selfish – it’s essential.
“That’s why the day after her funeral I went through my fridge, my freezer, my cupboards and I threw all the food out.”
‘It’s not too late’
Inspired to make a change in her mum’s memory Jade overhauled her diet, swapping processed foods and ready meals for non-starchy vegetables and high-fat protein sources.
Jade continues: “I feel better than I’ve ever felt in my entire life.
“I was supposed to have my gall bladder removed which I no longer need to have done. I used to take Gaviscon every day to deal with indigestion but I don’t take it anymore because I no longer have any problems with indigestion.
“To me that symbolises it’s not too late for me to make a change. It was too late for my mum to make a change, but I’ve done it in time.
“Physically, I’m in the best condition I’ve ever been in. So, the fact I now realise I have a waist is just a bonus.
“It was never about finding out I have a waist, it was about not dying at 54 like my mum did.”
‘Exercise helps with emotions’
As part of her weight loss journey, Jade also joined a gym and is committed to working out four times a week.
She says: “I have found that exercise is a far better way to deal with your emotions than eating.
“Now I’m exercising more, I feel more in balance with myself: My sleeping pattern is more regular; I’m not as depressed about my mum’s death as I was before.
“I definitely feel exercise has had a psychological benefit for me.”
‘It’s all about balance’
Jade’s weight-loss journey was never about body image, but a quest to improve her health and wellbeing.
She explains: “For me, my problem has never been about self-confidence. I felt sexy when I was big and I feel sexy now.
“I don’t care what size I am – I care about being healthy.
“At the beginning a lot of people thought I was going on a diet, but this isn’t a diet: It’s a mindset and a lifestyle.
“If you’re chasing a dress size or a number on the scale, you’re never going to keep the weight off. There’s no end to the chase for a long and healthy life.
“When I go out, I eat whatever I want because it’s all about balance and sustainability.
“I’m not going to a restaurant and ordering a salad – I’m ordering a pizza and an ice cream sundae because there’s no point in living a long life if you hate that life.”
Jade and Lulu were as close as any mother and daughter could be.
How does Jade think her mum would feel about her achievements?
She says: “My mum was my best friend, my confidante, my biggest supporter. She was the person I was closest to in my life.
“I know she would be proud of me because she would feel her mistakes were learning opportunities for me.
“I know there are other people who might also be wanting to make a change, but they just don’t know where to begin.
“If I can help even one person, that will make what has been the worst year of my life a little bit better.”