A mum-of-two shed almost seven stone during lockdown after being told she could become seriously ill or even die from Covid-19 due to her weight.
Jennifer Baxter, 31, struggled to do housework and play with her children but dropped from a size 22 to a 12 after transforming her life.
Now the legal advisor has completed a 17.7 mile coastal trek from Roker lighthouse to St Mary’s lighthouse, Sunderland, in a bid to raise awareness of hidden disabilities and fundraise for Colostomy UK, ChronicleLive reports.
Her mammoth undertaking was something she would have never thought was possible when the UK was plunged into lockdown last March.
But on Friday she crossed the finish line and is now continuing to fundraise for the charity following her son’s stoma surgery for intestinal dysmotility last month, aged 11.
The families experiences have also prompted Jennifer to raise awareness of hidden disabilities.
Jennifer, from Walker, Newcastle, said: “This time last year if someone said I would be walking over 17 miles to raise money for charity, I wouldn’t have believed them. I never thought it would be possible.
“The person who used to hide in layers of clothing, even on sunny days, because they didn’t want to be seen now doesn’t mind being seen in a bright purple charity T-shirt shaking a bucket to raise money for Colostomy UK.”
She added: “I want to highlight that disabilities aren’t always visible.
“A lot of the time when my son goes to use the toilet, because he’s not in his wheelchair and he looks well, people will automatically judge that there’s no disability and he shouldn’t be using disabled or accessible toilets.
“Having a colostomy or stoma is difficult enough without the judgement that comes along with it.”
Jennifer’s incredible weight loss has not only enabled her to complete the longest walk of her life. She is also inspiring thousands of people around the world by sharing her story on TikTok and Instagram.
She has gained around 20,000 followers across TikTok and Instagram and one of her videos has received 1.4M views.
She also regularly receives messages from people who she has inspired after slimming from 19st 9lb to 13st.
Jennifer said: “Some people have messaged me saying that they are feeling so depressed and have no one else who understands what they are going through.
“I know how people are feeling and I am able to put myself in their shoes.
“In the beginning I had every excuse that you could possibly imagine, and I know how easy it is to just continue to be unhappy because that is your normal.
“I have been that girl, the one who feels lost and doesn’t know who to turn to, and I love the feeling that I am the person who is helping them through some of the most difficult times of their lives.”
Jennifer credits exercise and eating in a calorie deficit for her success in losing weight.
She has achieved her results with the help of a nutrition and training plan from Food 4 Thoughts, which is co-founded by former Love Island contestant Scott Thomas.
Jennifer, who is now an ambassador for Food 4 Thoughts, said: “I tried to cut out the chocolate, biscuits and cheese, but I found it so difficult and it didn’t take me long to slip back into bad habits.
“It was one evening in August when I was on Instagram when I saw a post on Scott Thomas’ wall talking about how he had changed his life for the better with nutrition.
“It turns out that clicking on that story was the first step in changing my life too.”