A sex abuse ‘victim’ who made herself “fat and ugly” so no-one would touch her again has made an incredible transformation after losing nearly half her body weight .
Ashley Amaral, 31, who says she was sexually abused as a child, hit 24st 4lbs after years of using food as an emotional crutch from the age of 10.
Her daily 5,000-calories diet included McDonald’s breakfasts, pizza slices, hamburgers, fries, cookies and at least five large Cokes a day.
After a series of shameful moments from being called ‘fat cow’ at school to needing a seat belt extender and even being asked to leave a rollercoaster, she decided to change her life.
In 2011, she had a gastric sleeve after years of failed fad diets and thanks to strict healthy meals coupled with exercise, she lost more than 10 stone.
Now she laughs as her former bullies try to hit on her and make small talk, utterly shocked as they can’t believe her transformation.
Ashley, an admin worker from Toronto, Canada, said: “Food became my comfort for when I was happy or sad, the psychological part was that if I was large, I was repulsive and so would be safe.
“My size led to series of problems, including when I went to a theme park and they couldn’t lock the seat, so I had to do the walk of shame – that broke me and made me realise how big I was.
“A year later I went on an airplane and needed a seatbelt extender, all those little things added up over time.
“The person I saw in the mirror wasn’t me anymore, it was a mask that I had put on to hide with and it was at that moment that I decided I was ready to take back control of my life.
“I knew in that part of my life, I was going to help my physical and mental health, by dealing with what happened when I was younger.
“I chose to get a gastric band as a tool to help put me on the right track towards losing weight.
“The first year was a learning curve where I had to battle only eating certain amounts, feeling sick and then even certain foods would make me ill.
“I thought I would lose all my weight quickly and it would be easy, but it wasn’t – I had to learn to eat healthily, make better choices, including ditching fizzy drinks for water.
“Before I was big and round with no shape, now I feel like a woman, I have curves and feel sexy, before I could pretend I was confident but I didn’t truly feel that way.
“It’s very empowering to be a woman and feel sexy about yourself, to not need anyone or anything else to feel that way.
“I was always the ‘fat girl’ at school, people would laugh and call me names, they would snicker behind my back, calling me ‘fat cow’ or tell me I was ‘huge’.
“It’s funny to watch their faces now, they don’t recognise unless they’ve heard it through the grapevine or seen my pictures.
“They try making small talk instead of being rude like before, but I’m not a fake person and don’t hide or try to make them feel better for what they did.”
Ashley claims she was abused at the age of 10, but there was no conviction.
She said: “The adult came to the side of my bed and started whispering things in my ear like ‘do you like to be tickled?’ and touched me in areas an adult shouldn’t touch.
“He grabbed my hand and proceeded to make me touch him.
“I decided I finally had enough 16 years later, I told my family and the police, it went to court but due to problems we couldn’t convict.”
Ashley believes her self-loathing from the attack led her to gain drastic amounts of weight so that she felt ‘safe’ and not ‘at risk’ again.
This coupled with childhood bullying led her eating habits to spiral out of control.
Ashley said: “I was abused when I was younger, so food became my coping mechanism, it was my drug of choice.
“If you’re fat and ugly, no one will touch or abuse you again – that was my mentality as a 10-year-old.
“At school, bullying led me to gain a lot of weight too, I was very unhappy with how I looked and I used food to bury my problems.
“I remember a boy in school who had a crush on me was ridiculed, they would say ‘oh god, you like the fat girl, what’s wrong with you?’ and other comments.
“It would upset me and hurt a lot but I never showed it, I would hide it and then when I was home I would cry.”
But since her drastic life overhaul, Ashley’s found inner happiness and confidence in her appearance – even inspiring those close to her to lose weight too.
Since hitting 13st 2lbs, she stopped letting life hold her back and can now enjoy playing with her son.
Ashley said: “My friends are super proud of me, some have been motivated to start their own weight loss journey now.
“I have so much more stamina now, I do pole classes and can play around with my son without dying after two minutes of exercise.
“I’m excited to be able to run around and raise my son to lead a balanced healthy lifestyle, I can play sports with them and not be out of breath.”
Ashley’s diet before and after her weight loss
Breakfast- McDonald’s sausage and egg combo double with hash browns (845 calories) and a Coke (310)
Snacks- chocolate (235), chips (152)
Lunch- pizza slice (410), hamburger (345), fries (365) and Coke (310)
Snacks- junk food (235) and Coke (310)
Dinner- dip and pita appetizers (165) and chicken fingers (365), fries (365) and two Cokes (620)
Dessert- large bowl of ice cream (200) with chocolate cookies (150) with chocolate sauce (110)
Breakfast- Greek yogurt and blueberries
Snacks- mini carrots, red pepper hummus and calorie wise crackers
Lunch- salad with lots of veggies and grilled chicken
Snacks- yogurt, apple slices and nut-butter
Dinner- grilled chicken or 3oz protein with sweet potato or small portion of low calorie pasta or zucchini noodles with meat sauce
Dessert- frozen yogurt or small dark chocolate
Sex abuse ‘victim’s’ weight loss after hitting 24st to make herself ‘fat and ugly so no one would touch her again’