Student, 18, builds her confidence back after losing five stone

Size 16 student, 18, who was branded a ‘hippo’ and felt too self-conscious to even look in a mirror says she feels more confident than ever after shedding 5st

  • Tilly Niman, 18 from Leeds used to weight 14 stone and ‘stick out like sore thumb’
  •  Used to be bulled by people calling her a ‘hippo’ because of her bigger frame
  • Adopted healthy habits in January 2019 and lost five stone, from size 16 to size  6 

A student who was so unhappy with her weight after being branded a ‘hippo’ that she refused to even glance in a mirror reveals she now feels more confident than ever after losing 5st.

Tilly Niman, 18, from Leeds, said she’d always been a ‘bigger girl’ but while in sixth form her weight became a ‘massive issue’ for her as she reached 14st and felt like she ‘stuck out like a sore thumb’.

But in 2019, she decided to have a lifestyle change and lots five stone, taking her from 14st to 9st and from a size 16 to a size 6-8.

The teen, who studies criminology, has shared her weight loss story online and said she felt much more confident in her body. 

BEFORE: Tilly Niman, 18, hated the look of her body when she was a size 14/16, weighing 14 stone. She was bullied by other people for her bigger frame and had no self-confidence 

AFTER: The student, pictured now, has regained confidence in herself and her looks after shedding the pounds

Diet before 

Breakfast: Bagel and hot chocolate

Lunch: Panini (tuna and cheese/beans and cheese) or pasta (plain tomato sauce and cheese)

Dinner: Massive bowls of pasta (tuna pasta with creamy mayo/mince bolognese) or pizza (veg or tuna toppings)

Snacks: Sharing bags of crisps and chocolate                                                                                                                                           

Diet after 

Breakfast: Fruit with yoghurt and a coffee

Lunch: A healthy pizza made from Warburtons Thins with tomato puree, cheese and vegetables. She also enjoys tuna or smoked salmon salads.

Dinner: Pasta with (homemade sauce/Quorn bolognese, salmon with vegetables or vegetable rice or a jacket potato with tuna and cheese or beans and cheese

Snacks: Low-calorie bars and crisps like Alpen and fruit.

The 18-year-old claims she used heavy make-up to ‘mask’ her insecurities and recalled the ‘gut-wrenching’ moment she burst into tears in Topshop’s changing rooms as nothing would fit.  

The fitness enthusiast claims she’s a ‘completely different person’ and has become a TikTok star with more than three millions likes and now shares her journey on the platform in a bid to help others.

Tilly said: ‘It sounds really over dramatic but before I lost weight I never really looked in the mirror and I think that’s why I was so naive – I’d never actually seen it.

‘Before stepping in the shower for example, I’d go in, come out and put a towel on straight away – I never looked at my body in the mirror.

The belle of the Halloween ball! Tilly now in October 2020, in a size 8 skirt. Tilly used to hate looking at herself in the mirror 

The student trying on a size 14, 16 bridesmaid dress in February 2019, a month into her weight loss

‘After I got changed I’d look in the mirror to see how I looked in my outfit, but if it was just in my underwear, then never ever.

‘The only time I started to notice it was when I started losing weight and I wanted to take those ‘before’ pictures – I had to get over this fear of what I looked like and actually face it.

‘I didn’t look in the mirror because I knew what I needed to do to make myself better but I didn’t really know how to go about it to lose the weight, so I avoided the whole thing.

‘Looking back at pictures is actually one of my favourite things to do – if I’m ever having a down day I’ll look back and think “I’ve come this far”.

Tilly, pictured before, left, and now, right, likes to motivate other teens to go through their own weight loss journey

‘The pictures of me back then motivate me even more and make me feel better that I’ve got to where I am today – it’s all my own hard work.’

The criminology student said that she was ‘very lucky’ that her friends were all accepting of her at school and was not bullied – though she was devastated to hear she had been branded a ‘hippo’ behind her back.

Tilly said: ‘I remember this one boy called me a hippo. That was a big thing for me because no one had ever said anything to me before – it wasn’t to my face, it was behind my back.

‘It really did really affect me, but not enough to make me want to change.

Tilly, pictured before, left and in September 2020, right, said old pictures of herself helped her maintain her weight 

‘It was very gut-wrenching at first but if anything it made me stronger as I had people there to support me – all my friends would back me up and say ‘no, she’s beautiful’ and all of that.

‘I started losing weight two or three years after that comment was made – it was always in the back of my head and I think after I lost the weight I wanted to see him and just be like “you said this about me – and now look at me”.’

Tilly said that her biggest impetus for losing weight was being asked to be her cousin’s bridesmaid back in October 2018 – an event she wanted to feel ‘confident within herself’ for.

She tried a diet for a year and lost two and a half stone within eight months and seeing these results spurred her on and she then continued on her own healthy eating diet.

Tilly said: ‘I remember I was shopping for an outfit for my cousin’s engagement party with my mum and we were in Topshop trying on so many outfits and nothing would fit me.

Tilly in 2018, trying on a one piece swimsuit during a holiday. Four months later, she adopted healthier habits  

The student in 2018, when she was a size 14 to 16. Tilly went through difficult time, including crying in changing rooms 

‘I just burst into tears – it was gut-wrenching.

‘I remember I was in the changing rooms in Zara and I was struggling to fit into a large – that for me was a bit of a turning point.

‘I would hide behind a lot of make-up – as soon as I lost weight I held back on the make-up and felt so comfortable within myself, and that was the important part.

‘It was a bit like a mask really – it was able to hide my insecurities under all the make-up – even though my insecurities were elsewhere, I thought the make-up would help me.’

The 18-year-old said that she had a a BMI of 31 which was classed as ‘obese’ – but hers is now a completely healthy 20 or 21 – which was one of the goals she set out to achieve.

She’s now a smaller size 6-8 and she said she now has the confidence to don clothes that were once out of her comfort zone – including crop tops and baggy jeans.

Tilly: ‘It makes me happy that I can feel nice and kind of sexy in these clothes that I would have felt disgusting in the old me.

‘When I first started losing weight my friends said mentally I just became a different person – I was a lot more confident in myself and happier.

‘I’m a completely different person and the experience changed my life – I’m so much fitter and healthier.

‘I remember I would walk to sixth form and be breathless by the end of it, and during lockdown my daily walk would be five or six kilometres.

‘A big thing I’d talk about with my university friends is that I’m now able to share my clothes with them – it makes me feel so much more included with the group.’

Tilly, pictured now, feels much more confident about her body and isn’t afraid of showing it off anymore 

Tilly is now popular on TikTok where she shares weight-loss related content with her 182,000 followers

Tilly now regularly shares healthy weight loss related videos on her TikTok which has amassed 182,000 followers – 10,000 of which flocked to her page within 24 hours.

The teen said that although she had the loving support of family and friends during her weight loss experience, she didn’t have anyone her own age who she could message for advice – and she’s now the person she wishes she had.

Tilly said: ‘I get really lovely messages from people saying I’ve inspired them and motivated them – it fills me with happiness.

‘I always tell people weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint – it’s so important to realise that these things don’t happen overnight – it took me two years to get where I am today.

‘You’ve got to determine it’s going to take a while – it’s a process and a lifestyle change.

‘Whenever people ask for advice the main thing I say is that you’ve got to make your journey enjoyable, because that’s the reason why people give up.

‘I really enjoyed my whole journey and that’s why I want to help other people enjoy theirs.’

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