Best friends lose 14 stone between them after being horrified by holiday snaps- and struggling to fit on the flight
23:40 GMT, 28 June 2012
Jackie and Leanne relished the opportunity to travel abroad every year.
But they gradually began to notice that every time they boarded the plane for sunnier climates, the seats became smaller and smaller and they struggled to fasten their seat belts.
After developing their holiday snaps the pair were left feeling horrified by their bikini bodies and decided that action needed to be taken.
Jackie Ellis decided enough was enough after seeing holiday snaps that horrified her
After dropping from a size 24 to 12, Jackie feels confident strutting her stuff on the beach
Jackie Ellis, 39, and Leanne Wears, 42, who wore size 24 and 22 respectively were blissfully unaware of how huge they had become, choosing to gorge on takeaways and calorific wine.
They would sit on the beach and snipe about what other women were wearing, but looking back, they realise they were simply jealous of their slim figures.
The pair, from North Shields, Tyne and Wear, met when they were both working together at Argos, 10 years ago – and as their friendship grew, so did their waistlines.
Jackie said: 'Leanne and I were always telling each other we looked fine, and we started to believe it ourselves.
The best friends motivated each other to lose weight and embarked on a much healthier lifestyle
'We were always popping round to each others houses for a cup of tea and cake, and even though we only lived a mile apart, we'd take a taxi door to door.'
It wasn't until one year, when a tour guide in Turkey asked the friends if they were sisters, that they realised he had only made the connection because they were both so fat.
On their return, and after seeing the holiday snaps, they decided that enough was enough and embarked on an intense weight loss programme.
'I couldn't have done it without the support of my best mate' says Jackie
'Leanne and I loved going away on holiday together, but I hated feeling like a fat whale on the beach. I don't think either of us wanted to admit how big we had both got, but it was only when we got back from Turkey and I looked through our holiday snaps that I was shocked into doing something about my weight,' said Jackie.
The mother-of-four decided to join a slimming world class and dragged Leanne along for moral support.
'She wasn't keen at first, but she came to support me – and we soon started getting competitive over who had lost the most each week.'
Leanne said: 'I just wasn't bothered about my weight until Jackie talked me into it. She had to call me four times before I agreed to go along with her – but as soon as I lost a little bit of weight, I realised I wanted to be serious about it.
'We've done everything together, and I couldn't have done it without her.
'Not only do I look better, I'm also much healthier – I no longer need the high-strength inhaler I used to have to use – and I'm enjoying fruit and vegetables that I'd never eaten before.
'It was tough going, but we spurred each other on whenever one of us wanted to give into temptation. Whenever we fancied a trip to McDonald's we'd just remind each other of our dream of wearing bikinis on the beach, and we'd be back on track,' said Jackie.
And their efforts were clear to see.
Within weeks of starting their weight-loss regime, the pounds had started to melt away.
The pair didn't realise how huge they had become and grew bitter of thinner women on the beach
The friends once gorged on take-away food and calorific wine, opting to dine out every night on holiday
The girls cut back on takeaways, and cancelled the taxis, walking to each others homes for a coffee and a catch up.
They both cut out the burgers and fries at lunchtime – taking time out to shop for healthy salads together.
After cutting out the junk food and making daily walks to each others homes, the pair both weigh just over 11 stone – and are thrilled they were able to strut their stuff in bikinis on their annual trip to Turkey this summer.
Leanne has lost a staggering six dress sizes, shrinking from a size 24 to a 12/14.
And size 12 Jackie, who used to squeeze into a size 22 dress, has even carved a new career out of her weight loss – as she now works as a consultant for Slimming World.
'It felt so good to go on holiday and not be the two fat women – and there's no way we'd ever go back to how we were,' said Leanne.
Jackie added: 'When we flew out to Turkey this summer, we were thrilled when we both slipped into the plane seat with no trouble at all.
'A waiter who we'd got to know didn't recognise us at first – he thought we'd been ill when he realised who we were.
'It feels fabulous to be a healthy weight. When we were both fat, neither of us really realised how unhappy we were.
'Losing the weight has given me a whole new lease of life – it's given me my confidence back and a new career too.
'But I couldn't have done it without the support of my best mate.'