Lobke Meulemeester had always struggled with her weight, but she really began putting on extra pounds after her mother died in October 2013.
“I stopped caring about myself and my diet and health,” Meulemeester, 35, tells PEOPLE. “That why in January 2015 I reached my highest weight of 233 lbs.”
The U.K.-based professional translator says she didn’t think twice about eating unhealthy foods, and her diet consisted of bread with butter, cookies, chips, pizza and chocolate.
She knew she had to make a change when doing day-to-day tasks became difficult.
“I couldn’t walk a small distance without having back pain,” says Meulemeester. “Going up the stairs got me out of breath. Doing up shoe laces was impossible unless I would hold my breath due to my big growing stomach.”
I had never seen that pic on the left until a few days ago when my husband send it to me. I literally gasped for air. I never realised I had become so big. And I don't think I was at my biggest there. You know that feeling where you are smiling at the outside world but inside you are crying, hating how you feel and you can't stop to pull that shirt from out of your rolls. I was there and I never thought I would ever get out of that life. I didn't see a light at the end of the tunnel, it looked too scary, too daunting, too much hard work. Just walking for me was too much hard work. I would get back pain and get out of breath in no time. I knew it would take me more then a year to get where I wanted to be and that was just too overwhelming. But being 33 at the time and borderline diabetic. I knew I HAD to change. So I joined @weightwatchers and got myself a @fitbit. I started walking every day at lunch time and soon the weight started dropping off. Once I lost a bit of weight, I decided to get back in the gym and take classes. By Christmas I had lost 75 lbs. I am not embarrassed to say that since then I've struggled to continue on my journey and ended up gaining 10lbs. But I am finally back on track and have lost 4.8 lbs this past 2 weeks. The time frame you do it in isn't important, it's not a race. You can take your time, weight loss isn't a straight line down every week. There will be weeks where you will gain, give in to a takeaway or skip the gym. And that's fine, we all do it. What's important is that you never stop trying and you never ever give up 💗💗💗 For anyone asking: I'm 5ft 5 #weightloss #weightlossjourney #weightlosstransformation #transformation #motivation #fitness #weightwatchers #fitfam #healthy #losingweight #transformationtuesday #progress #fitlife #dedication #instafitness #gethealthy #beforeandafter #comparison #beforeandafterweightloss #fitbit #fitbitalta #slimmingworld #diet
In March 2015, Meulemeester joined Weight Watchers and bought a Fitbit to track her activity. She started out going for walks, and eventually started taking Zumba classes. She also completely overhauled her diet.
“I learned to control my food, made wiser choices, and ate more fruit and vegetables, but still had the occasional treat worked into my plan,” she says. “That way I never felt as if I was missing out on something.”
WATCH: Oprah Says Weight Watchers ‘Felt Like an Intervention From On High’
Meulemeester shared her progress on Instagram and credits encouragement from her followers with helping her stay on track.
“I really couldn’t have done it without the support of these people,” says Meulemeester, who now has 85.7k followers. “I have tried so many times to lose weight, but never succeeded like I have now. There have been many days when I felt like giving up but the support I have received has been so immense that it’s kept me going.”
January 2015-now . This is a reminder for myself , to why I've started. Ive been a bit hard on myself I think. This year I've struggled losing more weight. I actually gained 10 lbs over the course of the year. I have another 6 lbs to go before I hit my lowest weight at Xmas last year. And when I finally got back on track 3 weeks ago, I received the news that crushed my life. I was diagnosed with melanoma and my dad has to have surgery on his heart in 2 weeks time. And I am emotional eater. I eat when I'm stressed, big time. Everything in sight. And maybe I have used that news as an excuse to eat? I don't know. But I couldn't handle it, I felt the worst I've ever felt in my life. But when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror Saturday, I had to double take to make sure that was my reflection! And I needed to remind myself, I have done well, yes i have lost A LOT of weight, don't be so hard on yourself! You will get back on track. Just take your time, there's things going on in your life you have no control over. And that goes for whoever is reading this to, things happen in life. You will have setbacks and that's fine. Everyone goes trough it at some point in their lives. Stop being so hard on yourself and pat yourself on the back for how far you've come !!!! It's not a race, you have time. In your own time! As long as you never ever give up. 💗💗 Excuse the state of my hair on the right but I've had a rough couple of weeks! Praise the Starbucks toilet mirrors! 😂😂 #weightloss #weightlossjourney #weightlosstransformation #transformation #motivation #fitness #weightwatchers #fitfam #healthy #losingweight #transformationtuesday #progress #fitlife #dedication #instafitness #gethealthy #beforeandafter #comparison #beforeandafterweightloss #fitbit #fitbitalta #slimmingworld #diet
She has now dropped 72 lbs. and still follows a Weight Watchers plan to stay on track. Along the way, Meulemeester has found a new appreciation for herself and her body.
“I have found more respect for myself, and I no longer beat myself up for how I look,” she says. “I like what I see in the mirror, and I am so proud of myself for accomplishing what I have so far. I enjoy clothes shopping, I am no longer paranoid when I walk on the streets thinking everyone is looking at me. I feel happier within myself and I am enjoying life again.”