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In just 12 months the 54-year-old has lost more than five stones and runs more than 100 miles every week – peaking last month in an epic seven marathons in seven days.
Mandy says: “I just love running and I want to keep pushing myself to get better and stronger.
“Before I started getting fit I looked and felt horrific – now I feel amazing!
“When I look back I can hardly believe what I’ve done and how much I’ve achieved in one year. But if I can do it, anyone can.”
Mandy, from Runcorn, had had a problem with her weight for years, and says she’d tried every diet in a bid to shed the stones.
She’d tried slimming groups, meal-replacement plans, and done almost every class from aerobics to zumba, but nothing had ever worked.
But the turning point came when she approached the 10th anniversary of her diagnosis and treatment for cervical cancer.
She says: “When you’re first diagnosed with cancer you think you’re going to die, that’s it. But I was lucky. I had a simple operation, regular checks, and then, after 10 years of being healthy, I was discharged by my consultant.
“That’s when something changed in me.
“I realised that I could do more, that this life is for living. I was fed up of being an overweight mum-of-four. I wanted to totally change my life and change me,” she says. “And I have done that. I have gone from a size 16 to a size 8 and I feel incredible.
“I feel like a different person.”
In her bid to lose weight and get fit Mandy enlisted the help of a personal trainer.
“When I began working with my PT, James Littlemore, he asked me what I wanted him to do, and I said ‘I want you to turn me into an athlete’.
“Thanks to a combination of healthy eating advice, hours spent in the gym and days with me pounding the pavements, that is exactly what he did.”
Before January 2019, Mandy, whose children are Wesley, 30; Daniel, 29; Tim, 27, and Nathan, 26, admits she had an unhealthy lifestyle. She didn’t exercise regularly and her eating habits were poor.
“My husband David and I went to the cinema quite a lot and we’d have a pizza and a box of Maltesers each,” she frowns.
Now that has all changed. Although she can take in more calories because she burns off so many with exercise, Mandy eats far more healthily, ditching the chocolate and eating more fish and chicken, and lots of fruit and veg.
Her running and weight-training regime has seen her go from 15st 11lbs to 10st 5lb in a year, and turned her flabby, unfit frame into a lean, muscular one.
Mandy started with one 45 minutes session a week with her PT, learning how to lift and use weights, slowly increasing her sessions with him to two, and spending many more hours alone in the gym.
“I spend more time doing weights and the weights I use have got heavier,” says Mandy. “I work three ten-hour shifts a week at Wythenshawe Hospital and when I’m not at work I’ll spend about five hours in the gym.
“I began running a few miles a week, then 20, 30 or 40, and now I run more than 100 every week. (I have even run 20 miles, had a shower, and then gone to my PT session).
“I set my alarm at 4am every day so I can run before I go to work, and I will often clock up 13 miles in a morning. My aim originally was to be able to run a marathon last June, but in February I told James I thought I could do it in March, and I did – the full 26 miles.”
Mandy, who uses sports massage at Buddha Therapies in Liverpool to keep her limbs healthy and injury free, goes on: “I’ve run so many marathons now I have lost count, but the seven marathons in seven days was a celebration of what I’ve achieved.
“I went to Fuerteventura in the Canaries for a week and set my alarm at 4am as always, ran a marathon along the beach, and then spent the rest of the day sunbathing with my husband. It felt amazing.”
Now training to be a fitness instructor and personal trainer herself, Mandy is staggered at the difference in her physique and fitness levels, and what she has achieved in one year.
“I used to hate looking at myself in the mirror and now I love looking at my reflection because I have an amazing figure and I think ‘wow look at what you’ve done’! I can plank for 45 minutes and when I challenged the young lads in the gym to a wall sit, they gave up long before I did.
“It has been really hard work but worth every bit of it.
“My confidence has soared, and I feel better, both physically and mentally, than I ever have. What I’ve done so far feels incredible and I’m thrilled – and surprised – with what I’ve achieved. I went on a running and cycling holiday with my youngest son at the end of last year and, in pictures, and people said I looked like his sister!
“Something clicked and I’ve never looked back. Now I want to carry on and be the best that I can be.”
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