For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been on the large side and have always had a negative view of my weight and body. As a timid 4 year old just starting out in gymnastics I was told to “suck in my watermelon” or I wouldn’t be as good as the other girls. To this day, those words sting.
Fast forward 7 years to the joys of puberty – spotty skin, uncontrollable hair and spiralling weight. Sure, we all went through this to one degree or another. A new girl came to my school and I thought she was the prettiest girl I had ever seen. She was thin, tanned, had perfect skin and glossy straight hair which was always styled. Then there was me, a chunky girl, enough spots on my face to make me look like a pepperoni pizza and hardly knew how to brush my hair let alone style it. Naturally, I envied her and wanted to be her. Hell, I tried to be her. I remember one day I copied her signature hair style. Little did I know that this would start years of bullying from her and her clique. I cannot remember her exact words to me, but she walked up to me while I was on my own with her little group of friends asking why I was copying her and that I was too fat and ugly to be like her.
3 years later I was self harming, starving myself and isolating away from everyone behind a computer screen in virtual worlds. I hated who I was and the body I had. Oh how I wish I could tell 14 year old me that 15 years from now I’d love to have that body. I weighed around 130lbs/9 stone and wore a US size 5/UK size 8. I refused to go out in public unless I was forced to by my family. I had anxiety around eating in front of people and socialising. I lived off of Diet Coke and Spaghetti-O’s when I wasn’t starving myself for punishment.
On a happier note, all my body image insecurities and self hatred disappeared when I met my husband. I never thought anyone would love me for who I was when I hated what I saw in the mirror. We avoided the dreaded ‘happy couple weight gain’ for a few years seeing as I was in America and he was in England. I hadn’t weighed myself in years so I genuinely have no idea what my weight was, however I do know that I was a US size 15/UK size 16. I was also diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) after trying for a family and failing. This lead to a plethora of symptoms for me including weight gain of course, acne (its okay 11 year old self, there was a reason for it), hirsutism, hardened ovaries, blocked fallopian tubes and a wonky uterus. After this, I had accepted in my mind that people were born to be either fat or skinny; I was the fat one. I was happy and embraced my body for what it was, or so I thought. Looking back, I see how much I still used angles in my photos and refused full body pictures. I lived in baggy jumpers and hoodies. To me, that doesn’t sound like someone who embraced their body.
It wasn’t until I had my daughter in 2014 that I truly lost control of my weight. I didn’t watch what I ate when I was pregnant and indulged in every craving. Partly because of the infertility problems, I didn’t think I would ever be pregnant so I was living it up and partly because I was a greedy cow. No doubt this contributed to why my daughter was born 9lbs 6oz, ouch. I had every intention of losing the baby weight after she was born. I planned on breast feeding and I heard so many women say they lost their baby weight from it. I thought “Easy peasy, the weight will melt off me.” Well, breast feeding didn’t happen and neither did losing the baby weight. The weight continued to pile on until I hit my rock bottom.
What was my rock bottom you ask? We went on holiday to Sherwood Forest for my daughters first birthday and husbands birthday. I still only took photos from the chest up, but I broke my rule and opted for a cheeky photo on Friar Tuck’s lap. After I saw this photo I broke down in tears and begged my husband to delete it (which he clearly didn’t, the cheeky sod). I refused to be in ANY photos after that. After we got home from the holiday, I told my husband I had to do something about my weight because I couldn’t let my daughter grow up without her mom in any photos.
My work colleague had mentioned a few times that his wife had done Cambridge Weight Plan. I had tried various diets over the years including general healthy eating and exercise. Nothing seemed to work for me. It was at this point I contacted my CWP consultant and started my journey. At the start in July 2015, I weighed in at 192lbs/13st 10lbs and was wearing a US size 16-18/UK size 18-20. I set a goal weight of 10 stone and my CWP journey took me 5 months to complete. I went from the initial 12 weeks of Sole Source through to Step 5. I followed each step exactly as the book laid it out and somehow never had a cheat day or fell off the wagon. I did have 2 off-plan meals, but even then the rest of my day I stuck to it. When I finished my CWP journey in the beginning of December 2015, I weighed in at 133lbs/9st 7lbs and was wearing a US size 10/UK size 12.
Towards the end of my CWP journey, my consultant gave me the opportunity to do something amazing. It was amazing because it was for charity and also because it made me jump out of my comfort zone. I took part in a ‘calendar girls’ style calendar to help raise money to by an AED (automated external defibrillator) to be placed in our local town. The calendar was full of CWP success stories and their consultants. If you told me a year ago I’d be standing near starkers in front of a camera so the photo would go on a calendar, I would have laughed in your face. I did it though, and even though I still find it rather embarrassing, I am so happy I did it! We raised just over £1,000 from the calendar sales and will allow the AED to be purchased and placed for use.
So I did it, I finished CWP and lost a significant amount of weight, but that does not mean my journey is over. I am currently finding my way through maintenance and re-establishing my relationship with food. I used calorie counting for the first few months of my maintenance. It worked wonderfully at first, but then I found one day I was crying in Sainsbury’s because I was hungry but couldn’t buy anything as it would put me over my calorie limit. That day I decided to stop looking at numbers and listen to my body. I now eat when I’m hungry, eat low calorie meals when possible and allow myself a ‘naughty’ treat if I crave it. With all that, I also try to keep fit at the gym and focus on free weight training.
To date, I have lost a total of 67lbs/4st 11lbs, weigh in at 8st 13lbs and wear a US size 8/UK size 10. I would be lying to you if I said it was a breeze and life is amazing now I’m thin. Some days I do feel on top of the world and prance about like a unicorn pissing rainbows. Most days though, I look in the mirror and I still see the 13st 10lbs me. The hardest part of weight loss is the mental change. I will get there eventually, but it will take time and a lot of patience on my part. Am I happier than 4 year old me, 11 year old me and 14 year old me? Oh hell yeah! I wish I could give each version of me a cuddle and tell them it will all be okay in the end.
To you reading this, cheers! It was long winded but we got there in the end. I hope that you find my story inspirational. Whether it spurs you on to starting your own weight loss journey, get more fit or take better care of your body – go for it! If I can achieve what I did, so can you. All it takes is willpower, determination and a true want to change.