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‘I weighed over 32 stone – now, I’ve given up on diets’-Josie Copson-Entertainment – Metro

She’s had an epiphany.

‘I weighed over 32 stone – now, I’ve given up on diets’-Josie Copson-Entertainment – Metro

Marisa starred in Around the World in 80 Weighs (Picture: Mothership TV)

Marisa stepped on the scales, and a number she never wanted to see stared right back at her – 32 and a half stone.

Since she was just nine years old, Marisa has struggled with her weight and the national lockdown for the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated her gain further. Rarely walking anywhere, staying indoors, and regularly ordering takeaways had a detrimental impact on her physical health and confidence.

The number infuriated Marisa. She was mad at herself for not taking control, and when she looked in the mirror she thought: ‘I look like I’ve been blown up.’

‘I felt ridiculous and annoyed at myself,’ she summarised.

It wasn’t like she’d never tried to lose weight. She’d tried every diet over the last two decades including Atkins which restricts carbs but doesn’t limit protein so followers can eat a lot of meat, drinking SilmFast shakes instead of eating meals, and even the cabbage soup diet. In Marisa’s latest attempt, she signed herself up for Slimming World.

In the popular diet, Slimming World ‘members’ are given a certain quota of ‘syns’, and they can eat food that fits within this limit.

Marisa was scouted by the Channel 4 show (Picture: Channel 4/Seb Blach)

Making steady progress she began to document her journey on Instagram. Her posts caught the attention of a casting director from a new Channel 4 show – Around the World in 80 Weighs. Their idea was to send six overweight Brits to four different countries to see what they could learn from them.

For the healthcare administrator, it was an easy decision – she agreed to sign up and brought along her husband Russell, who was also obese.

‘My weight is something that has held me back mentally for years, and I am always going to take all the help,’ she explained to

‘I was in an unhealthy cycle of doing a diet, losing some weight, but then putting it back on.

‘This is because the diets I often opted for were often quite extreme. I would limit my calorie intake to such a degree that I’d feel ill.

‘I was in a rut. I couldn’t keep going that way. I had to find a long-term solution.’

Marisa joined Susan, Tiffany, Russell, Therryi-Jay, and Phil on he once-in-a-lifetime trip (Credits: Christopher Jue / Channel 4)

Marisa, now 32, packed her bags determined to finally help herself. While her main ambition was to get healthier, she’d also love to be a mum one day – that dream is made more difficult by her weight – the NHS warns that being overweight can affect fertility.

‘I’m lucky to have Russell. We are both bigger and so we understand each other’s struggles and worries. The thought of having a baby who is half me, and half him is so exciting. I love him more than anything, so I can’t even imagine how much I’d love our baby,’ she shared.

Although, Marisa tries to be realistic: ‘I see myself as a mother one day, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on it. I want to get happy and healthy for me, and then have fun with Russell in case we can’t ever get pregnant.’

Having Russell who makes her feel beautiful at any size, and supports her on the journey is priceless for Marisa, especially as she’s had cruel taunts targeted at her throughout her life.

Marisa and Russell would like to be parents (Credits: Christopher Jue / Channel 4)

‘People have just stared at me in the past. While we were in Toyko for the programme, I was told that bigger people upset harmony, which isn’t nice to hear. It was an uncomfortable experience.

‘In the UK, I’ve had people shout at me on the bus about my weight.

‘These people don’t know me or what I’ve been through.’

Marisa has an underactive thyroid – as a result of the gland not producing enough hormones, sufferers can experience tiredness, weight gain and feeling depressed.

‘It’s frustrating when the scales don’t come down as quick as you want them to and people don’t have empathy,’ says Marisa, who has now lost a total of six stone.

‘When people are nasty the way I have soothed myself in the past is comfort eating, which again is an unhelpful cycle.’

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Marisa got to experience different cultures while filming the four-part series. In Toyko, she visited a company that measures their workforce and put on a daily exercise class where attendance is pretty mandatory.

In Texas, a local trainer and nutritionist showed her how to have healthy habits even in tempting scenarios such as restuarants, but the country that stands out for Marisa is Tonga, where she met a young woman who, at the age of 27, had lost both of her legs due to complications with diabetes.

This startling reality had Marisa thinking about how she needs to take her health into her own hands, so she doesn’t do any serious damage to her body.

‘I’ve always been relatively fit for my size, but I’ve had age on my side.

‘If you’re bigger you’re more prone to getting type two diabetes, which can lead to amputation.

‘It was upsetting to see someone, much smaller than me, having gone through that. She’d left it too late, but I will not do that.’

Although Marisa is taking responsibility for her own future, she believes that the UK needs to help more.

‘There should be more support for people that do have eating problems. There’s an assumption we’re just lazy, but usually there is more going on, and we need help too.’

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Back on home soil, Marisa has abandoned diets and has instead opted for a lifestyle change, she is working with a personal trainer and heading to the gym three times per week.

She recently ran 5k for charity, but a simple moment while shopping at her local high street brought her the most pride.

‘I have always loved fashion, but I’ve never been able to just go into shops and buy something that fits but recently I went into Primark and got myself a dress.

‘It was the biggest moment for me. I have increased in confidence so much, and realised I have to appreciate myself at every size. Self-hatred doesn’t get me anywhere.

‘I need to love myself for who I am now, be kind to myself and appreciate how far I’ve come,’ she concluded.

Around The World In 80 Weighs airs tonight on Channel 4 at 9pm

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