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Mum loses eight stone after being fat shamed for not fitting in her plane seat


A mum who was fat shamed for only just squeezing into her airplane seat lost eight stone – by walking.

Dee Ucuncu, 42, struggled with her weight all her life and toppled the scales at 17 stone exactly and a size 26 at her heaviest.

The mum-of-two fell into a cycle of relying on food such as kebab and pizza takeaways – to cope with the stress of raising her son, Omer, 17, who has ADHD and dyspraxia.

But after boarding a plane on the way back from her summer holiday the passenger next her exclaimed ‘I don’t want to sit next to a fat person’ – and the embarrassment Dee felt made her want to make a change.

She set herself the goal of walking to the end of her road and started making it a daily occurrence – eventually walking 10,000 steps a day.

Dee also switched up her diet to fresh home-cooked meals and slowly saw the changes to her body.

Now a 9st 7lbs and a size eight Dee feels “fantastic” and continues to walk everyday.

Dee, a volunteer, from Cambridge, said: “I went on holiday and someone fat shamed me in front of everyone in the plane. We got onto the airplane on the way home. I was in the middle and this person came along and sat down next to the window. He called the air hostess over and he said: ‘this is fat person is overflowing my seat and I don’t want to be sat next to a fat person’.

“In the end she moved him.

“I was devastated. It was the most embarrassing thing in my entire life.

“No one had ever made a comment on my weight before, even though inside I knew I had an issue. As nasty as it was, it was what I needed. Walking is seen as the most basic thing.

“It’s the most fantastic exercise you can do. It’s so underestimated. The most amazing moment was when I got into size eight. I feel fantastic. I don’t worry about anything.”

Dee ate takeaways, frozen meals, and chocolate and got so big she struggled to walk 100m or stand for too long without feeling dizzy.

She said: “Cooking in our house was rarely done. When you have kids you forget yourself. Nobody wants to be fat. But a lot of people have underlying issues that they have to resolve within themselves before they can make that leap. I didn’t fully believe in myself until I started just doing it.”

After being fat shamed on an airplane in May 2019, Dee decided to make a change.

She said: “I said to myself this is going to be a completely new me. I wanted to lose it through exercise. I just had to do it in small steps.”

Dee started educating herself on a healthy diet before trying to built up her exercise.

She set herself a goal to get to the end of her road – approximately half a mile – and needed her son, then 12, to help her walk some of the way at first.

Slowly she built it up over five months to walk 10,000 steps a day – five days a week – by herself.

Dee lost six stone in six months by walking and switching her unhealthy food for healthy home-cooked meals – such as low fat Turkish lasagnes.

She doesn’t restrict herself from eating her favourite meals but now limits her portions sizes.

She said: “Because you’re eating less calories it flies off. I felt so amazing. I was so motivated.”

The rest of the weight took longer to shred but after two years and eight months Dee dropped down to 8st 7lbs.

After putting on muscle weight from exercising she and is now 9st 7lbs and a slender size eight.

She can confidently sit on an airplane and went on holiday for the first time since the fat-shaming comment in 2022.

She said: “I got onto that chair and it felt big. I didn’t have to worry about me overflowing. It was a surreal moment. I’m actually small now.”

Now Dee walks everyday and does Zumba and running.

She ran 25km last year and has a goal of completing an ultra marathon.

Dee said: “I don’t enjoy it while I’m doing it but I feel great afterwards. And it’s really helped me tone my body. Running has toned my body up. The fact I couldn’t walk and now I’m running is amazing. I never could have imagined setting goals like that for myself before, but I’m working my way up to it and it really would be great.”

Dee leads walks for her local walking group – Ramblers Wellbeing Walks – which she joined in 2022.

She said: “I call it my friendship group. There’s twenty of us and we all get out there, exercise and have a great time. We always say it’s the best therapy ever.”

Dee hopes her story can inspire others who are struggling to take the leap towards a healthy lifestyle.

Find your local walking group here – https://www.ramblers.org.uk/go-walking/wellbeing-walks

WEIGHT BEFORE: 17st
SIZE BEFORE: Size 26

WEIGHT NOW: 9st 7lbs
SIZE NOW: Size 8

DIET BEFORE

  • BREAKFAST: Skipped
  • LUNCH: Crisps, chocolate
  • DINNER: Kebab or pizza takeaway
  • SNACKS: Chocolate crisps

DIET AFTER

  • BREAKFAST: Scrambled eggs/ porridge
  • LUNCH: Crustless quiche
  • DINNER: Low fat Turkish lasagne / roast dinner
  • SNACKS: Fruit

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