Shannon Wedley thought her dramatic weight gain during her first year at university was a result of an unhealthy takeaway habit, but it turned out to be something completely unexpected.
The 22-year-old, who was studying fine art at the University of Gloucestershire, initially didn’t think too much of her four stone weight gain.
But when her periods stopped suddenly, Shannon decided it was time to take a trip to the doctor.
She said: ‘As most students do, I adopted unhealthy eating habits like having regular takeaways and snacking loads.
‘However, I noticed I was gaining weight far quicker than I should have been. Before I knew it I had gained four stone in one year and watched my periods come to a halt.’
Following a number of tests, Shannon was told her symptoms were being caused by polycystic ovary syndrome – also known as PCOS – a condition that often affects how a woman’s ovaries work.
Many women with PCOS have cysts on their fallopian tubes, which contain immature eggs. Hormonal imbalances caused by PCOS can interfere with periods and the release of eggs from the ovaries, which can result in problems conceiving.
Despite there being no known cure, the doctors advised Shannon that losing weight may help her with the condition.
She said: ‘It was like a catch-22 as weight loss will help PCOS, but weight gain is also a symptom itself.
‘I stayed ignorant of what I needed to do and became depressed – even suffering panic attacks. By the end of uni three years later I had gained six stone.’
Rising anxieties about her appearance led Shannon to frequently cancel plans with friends and to stop applying for jobs that required a tight-fitting uniform.
Shortly after, Shannon suffered a miscarriage.
The tragic event prompted concerns from Shannon about her fertility. She consulted a gynaecologist who warned about her unhealthy lifestyle but told Shannon if her periods returned, she may be able to conceive.
She said: ‘Hearing this made me realise I had to be more proactive.’
On January 1st 2019 Shannon made it her New Year’s resolution to lose some of her weight.
Now, almost eight months on, the Gloucestershire graduate’s weight loss programme has gone from strength to strength, through a combination of healthy diet and HIT exercise sessions two to three times a week.
In total Shannon has lost around 10 dress sizes.
She said: ‘My confidence has improved so much, even the smaller things like picking an outfit every day are better.
‘It’s also so much easier to do day-to-day activities like walking up the stairs to my flat, which I would have struggled with before.
‘In terms of my PCOS – my periods have returned and my PCOS-related acne has cleared up.
‘I’m nearly at my goal of losing 100lbs by Christmas. I’ll also be getting married to Tom in August 2020 – picturing myself in my wedding dress will always motivate me to get to my goal.’
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