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Tania Sullivan

My husband Mike and I have 13 children ranging from 23-years-old down to 2. Until my fourth child I was a svelte UK size ten - I think that's a US size 6 (although I believed myself to be fat at the time!). After my fourth child was born in 2003 we went on to have another nine children in the next 11 years. After each child I gained a little more weight, then a little more, and a little more still. I ended up weighing almost 14 stone. 

My confidence was shot to pieces. I felt fat, unworthy and lacked confidence. I existed rather than lived. I hated dressing up and resigned myself to wearing a 'mum uniform' of elasticated waist trousers and big tops. We took the children on fabulous road trips around Europe but I lacked the confidence to put on a swimsuit or even a pair of shorts. I sat sweating it out on the beaches of the Adriatic coast of Italy in my stretchy trousers. Last year I felt brave enough to wear a long pair of shorts but it stopped there.

We are professional bloggers (our website has over 9,300 Facebook followers, over 11,500 Twitter followers and 114k email subscribers, so it is pretty good by UK standards), and last year I had the opportunity to go on a week-long fitness cruise around the Greek islands. When the rest of the voyagers arrived it was clear that I was the fattest and unhealthiest. I felt absolutely hideous and ashamed of myself. I rapidly declined participating in the fitness side of things and even the hikes in the heat were tough going. 

I'd like to say that I decided to make a change when I returned home but I didn't. The spiral of self-loathing continued and I now was 41-years-old and weighed almost 14 stone. I was in complete denial, going so far as to buy another set of bathroom scales because I was convinced that ours were showing an incorrect weight. Dare I admit it, I even snipped my tightening underwear rather than go out to purchase a larger size. How is that for hitting rock bottom?

My husband and I had joined a gym earlier in the year but despite our good intentions it quickly fell to the wayside. Results were not forthcoming and we were spending more on fuel and time driving there and back than we were on the membership itself and working out. We had previously been asked to review the Slim Fast products,which I hated - and said so! Time, with 11 children between the ages of 16 and two still at home, was limited. We home educate and work from home too and I'm also studying for my degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. How much could we possibly fit in?

A couple of months after that voyage my only sibling, my brother, was diagnosed with leukaemia. It was Friday 13th November 2015 - just 12 days before his 34th birthday. Jimmy was a lecturer at a London college. With degrees in sports sciences and a strong background of sports and health, he was the healthiest, fittest person I had ever known in my life. Certainly, he was the last person you would have expected to be struck by cancer. His body was strong enough, the medics decided, to withstand intensive treatment. Just a day or so after he was diagnosed he messaged me with: 

'You never guess who I'm speaking to on Linked In'. 
'Who's that?'

I didn't have a clue. Jimmy, a wrestling since a small child, went on to explain DDP Yoga to me, and how he was planning on using it to help him through his treatment. 'Control the controllables' he called it.

My husband Mike and I had been talking about trying yoga out and Jimmy spoke so highly of DDP YOGA that we decided to check out the website. We did some searching and came across Arthur's story. I ordered the DVDs that evening. With a camping trip through Europe planned in March ending with a five week stay in Greece before camping our way back up again, we wanted to be fit and healthy. We had a goal and nothing to lose - apart from a lot of weight between us! 

The DVDs took a few weeks to arrive but when they did on December 8th 2015 (we marked the date on the calendar), we put the younger children to bed, ushered the rest of the children out of the living room and took over the TV. It's only a mild exaggeration to say that the first time we tried the Diamond Dozen, we almost died - or we felt like it at least. 

We stuck to the programme. We changed our eating habits and tracked everything we ate. We also introduced working out on the cross-trainer that stands in one of the bedrooms. We decided to weigh ourselves twice a month - on the 1st and 15th. We'd also take body measurements on the first of each month. Between beginning DDPY on December 8th and our first official measurement tracking on 1st January, I lost 5 inches from my hips, 3 inches from my thighs and 2 inches from my waist. I'd have to check my husband's measurements with him but I know he lost too. We were hooked.

Over the weeks we built up from nothing at all to doing one workout six days a week, combined with a period on the cross trainer. With our travel departure date of 24th March looming we built it up to two workouts, six days a week (Red Hot Core plus one other). We didn't mention that we were trying to lose weight to our readers - we kept very quiet, knowing that we had tried things before that didn't work. Our plan was that we would reveal all with some beautiful beach or garden shots from our travels.

However, things didn't work out to plan. On 29th February our oldest daughter had a baby - our first grandchild. Obviously proud I posted some photos on our site's Facebook page ( and on our blog, and immediately began receiving comments on my weight loss. In the meantime, just a few days ago we received news that our minibus had failed its MOT and was unlikely to be repairable. This was quite upsetting as we not only had to come to terms with losing out on this trip (plus the money paid for it), but because we rely on the bus for our every day transport. A few hours later we received confirmation that my father had lung cancer and metastasis of the brain. As his sole support (my brother is still undergoing chemo for leukemia and has been confined in hospital since November due to being neutropenic), my husband and I decided against taking the children on this trip anyway so I can be with my father for his appointments and treatment. Maybe the trip wasn't meant to be after all. 

Anyway, I put together a couple of before/after shots and posted them on our site's FB page. The feedback and support has been remarkable and people are now waiting for us to reveal how we have lost our weight. We've reassured them that no fads or fuss have been involved but we haven't revealed the secrets of our success just yet. So far I have lost 42lbs and Mike has lost 37lbs - so almost 80lbs between us since starting DDPY in December!  I am now a UK size 12 (US 8) - down from a UK 18 (US 14). We still have another couple of stone each to lose but we'll do it! 

There is no magic solution to losing weight. Nobody can do it for you. You need to make the decision and take control of your own actions and we have realised that. We're doing it and if we can, even with 13 children and all we need to work around and fit into our lives, anyone can!

Follow Taina's blog, Larger Family Life at

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