DM

London

A former food addict who had spent her whole life dreaming of romance shed an astonishing 12st 7lb - and fell in love for the first time.

Hazel Dyson, 27, used to weigh 22st 7lb and, at her heaviest at the age of 21, had given up hope of ever having a boyfriend. Men insulted her size 26 figure, calling her ‘massive’ and ‘disgusting’ - leaving the ceramic artist convinced that she would be single forever. But six years later, the size 10 beauty is in demand and is inundated with attention from men who are desperate to date her. Hazel, from Huddersfield, said: ‘I’d struggled with my weight since I was a child, and by the time I was in secondary school, I was 15st.

‘Over the years, my weight just ballooned and at 21, I was a size 26 and 22st 7lbs. ‘All of my friends were really slim and pretty, and I was always the fat one in the corner. ‘My family tried to set me up on blind dates, but I was too ashamed of the way I looked. ‘Obviously this meant that I never met anyone. So I’d make up stories about men so no-one would know I’d never had a boyfriend.’ To mask her embarrassment, 5ft 6in Hazel gorged on pizza, chocolate fudge cake and Chinese takeaways.

At 49.9, her BMI was more than double the recommended range of 18.5 to 25. Bitterly ashamed of her body, Hazel barely left the house and spent all day watching television or browsing Facebook. She had given up all hope of finding love until a visit to her GP in 2008 gave her the motivation she needed to change her life.

Hazel said: ‘He told me that if I didn’t start to lose weight, I would need a hip replacement by the time I was 30. ‘I was absolutely mortified. Up until then, I’d blamed my size on my polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), but I knew then that I had to stop making excuses.

‘I was constantly tired and out of breath, and now my bones were struggling to cope under my weight. ‘Every time I clicked onto my Facebook, I’d see pictures of my friends getting married or having fun. ‘They were all out living their lives and I wanted to too.’

Hazel joined Slimming World and set herself a goal to lose weight and find love. She threw out all her junk food and filled her fridge with fruit and vegetables. And as each birthday approached, she convinced herself that it would be the year she found a boyfriend.

Hazel said: ‘It was hard work and of course I had the odd slip-up along the way, but seeing all of my friends fall in love really kept me going. ‘I didn’t want to get to 30 without ever having experienced true romance. I think it’s every girl’s dream to find that special someone to share your life with.

‘I dreaded the first Slimming World meeting and was devastated when I found out how much I actually weighed. ‘But I knew that if I didn’t face my fears, I’d be stuck at that size forever - and I didn’t want that any more. I wanted my happily-ever-after.’ After six years of diet and exercise, Hazel lost an incredible 12st 7lbs - just in time for her 26th birthday.