Here is a client story that you will find unbelievable. The pictures here show the progress made………..but more importantly, Juliets story over the coming weeks will highlight all the issues and challenges that come along with wanting to make a positive change…..and this series will show how she successfully dealt with them! 🙂
Here are just a few of the photos (more to come)….and her words……
When I began this journey I was no stranger to the world of weight loss….. I had “been there and done that” with almost every diet craze known to man – I tried everything from diet pills to an odd contraption that sent electric shocks through my body, not to mention many fad diets! Almost every new attempt I made to lose weight was successful to a degree. I would lose weight fairly rapidly at first but once the initial motivation had passed, the diets were not sustainable, there were often dramatic changes to my daily habits that just left me feeling resentful and deprived….. and I would pile the weight I had lost back on and more besides.
I had been overweight all of my adult life. I began to pile on the pounds in my teenage years when I started to be in charge of my own food choices. My first experience of dieting was at 14 years old, my mum took me along to our local slimming club in order to support me with losing some weight. This was where I learnt that dieting was boring, restrictive and no fun whatsoever! Needless to say after just a few weeks I was no longer losing weight because I had completely lost interest in dieting and was eating the wrong foods again. Over the next 6 years my weight rose to over 26 stone, I knew it wasn’t healthy to be that weight but people in my life seemed unconcerned with my weight so I kidded myself into believing it was OK. I made attempts to shed a few pounds on the latest fad diet every few months but my weight continued to rise. I didn’t really know anything other than being overweight and I didn’t see myself in the mirror as large as I really was.
The First Time
My first serious weight loss attempt came when I was 20, following a comment that was made to me by a regular in the bar I worked at. It really hit home and made me question if I was truly happy the way I was. It was the kind of comment that I would normally laugh off but instead of laughing it off I was upset and vowed to do something about my weight. This time I would do something different to the methods I had tried in the past so I contacted a local gym and enquired about personal training sessions. I trained 3 – 4 times a week with the trainer on an individual basis and in just 8 months I had lost 10 stone I was down to 16st 7lb. I didn’t follow a diet for those 8 months, I was just making healthier choices, it was refreshing to achieve weight loss without consciously dieting.
I had at least another 5 stone to lose and all was going well when my personal trainer left the gym and I was placed with another personal trainer. The new trainer didn’t challenge me and I began to question what I was paying for so I decided to go it alone and use what I had thought I had learnt. I soon became bored training alone, my program became stale and I started to miss my planned training sessions. I felt I was letting down all those people that had encouraged me along the way. I just wanted to disappear again like when I was overweight, people didn’t notice me then, I just got on with my life and I wanted that back. By the time I got to 21 I had already begun to pile the pounds back on. I returned to eating takeaways and much larger portions of food, all my hard work being undone faster than I could imagine. My half-hearted attempts to get back to the gym failed because I had already lost some of the fitness I had built up and I became demoralised and frustrated when I couldn’t perform to my previous fitness standards.
I felt like a complete failure.
I had let down all those people that had helped and supported me with my weight loss efforts. I had no one to blame but myself and I was utterly embarrassed that once again I had ended up where I had started.
What was wrong with me? How could I have allowed myself to regain 10 stone in little more than a year?
On the outside I was happy smiley Juliet, on the inside I was struggling and the easiest way to deal with it was to pretend that I was happy the way I was. After a while of pretending I actually began to believe that I really was happy at 26 stone! When I was feeling low about my weight, food was there as a comfort which, of course, would just make matters worse in the long run. For every pound I put back on the gym was getting further and further away, how could I possibly face those people, that had given me such amazing support, when I had piled the weight back on? I also began to suffer with panic attacks and anxiety; it was not something I had previously experienced. I felt it was another sign of me being weak and so I hid this from my friends and family apart from my mum who seemed to be the only person that could talk me down when I was feeling anxious. I was very hard on myself and felt that I should be stronger and smarter and I should just get over it! (It wasn’t until I finally sought professional help for my anxiety 6 years later that I saw a marked improvement and managed to get it under control.)
By the age of 23 I was back to weighing over 26 stone.
All the money, time and effort spent on my previous weight loss attempt wasted. My mum had begun to suffer severe pain in her knees due to osteoarthritis and the only way the pain would be eased was by her losing weight. I began to look into very low calorie diets, I had always felt that if the choice of what I ate and when was taken away I would be a much more successful dieter. I came across the Cambridge Diet, a very low calorie meal replacement diet, 3 soups or shakes a day no real food – it was exactly what I needed! I spoke to my mum about following the plan- together; I would support her to lose weight which would ease the pain in her knees. Because I was doing it for my mum I found it easier, I didn’t want to see her in pain any longer. It was just after my 23rd birthday in March 2007 when I began the diet and in 9 months I had lost just over 10 stone again. The weight was just dropping off I didn’t do any exercise and just ate the shakes and soups purchased from the supplier. My body shape was nowhere near as nice as when I had been training and I didn’t feel as energetic but at that point I wasn’t too worried I just wanted to lose the weight as quickly as possible. My aim was to lose weight come what may.
When I hit the 4,5,6 stone loss mark I was feeling amazing. People were really starting to notice a difference in my shape and size. Those I barely knew were coming to me and congratulating me on my weight loss. At first it was nice, it boosted my confidence and reaffirmed why I was doing it. As the weeks went by I began to find the attention a little more difficult to handle. When people asked how much I’d lost and I’d tell them 7,8,9 stone they would then ask how much I weighed initially and I was utterly embarrassed to tell them.
It seemed that people only wanted to speak to me because I had lost the weight and every conversation I had was around my weight. I was really struggling and finding that as I approached the 10 stone loss mark when I should have been on top of the world……………………… I was far more self-conscious, I felt like everyone’s attention was drawn to me and I hated it. I also began to find that I had loose skin, far more so than when I had lost the weight the first time around. Some people made comments that my body shape was not as nice and toned as it had been when I had lost the weight before. It just made me hate my body even more, after dieting for so long I expected I would start to love my body but this wasn’t the case.
I had another 6 stone to lose when I relocated to Hull in December 2007 and I was confident I could just continue on the diet until I lost all the weight and then maintain it. Unfortunately this wasn’t the reality, I began to resent the diet because it meant that socialising with my new colleagues was harder, they were going out for meals that I couldn’t eat and I also couldn’t drink alcohol on the diet. I felt deprived and sad, I thought losing such a large amount of weight should make me happier, but I wasn’t happier. I began to add in some food but it was the wrong types of food, I hadn’t taught myself new habits during the diet and it was all too easy to go back to my old ways. I knew what I should be eating but having deprived myself for 9 months I just ate everything that I had missed over that time. As the weight piled back on I was completely out of control. I stopped weighing myself because I couldn’t face it.
In just 2 years I had eaten my way back up to 26 stone AGAIN but now I weighed even more than 27 stone!
At 29 years old I felt there was nothing left for me to try, I had tried exercise and failed, and I had tried every diet out there and failed. There was nowhere to turn except surgery. I spoke to my Dr and I was told I would not qualify for weight loss surgery on the NHS as I didn’t have any illness caused by being overweight. I had a consultation at a private hospital and was told that I was an ideal candidate and all I needed to do was pay £10,000 for the irreversible gastric bypass operation and I could have it done within the month! I researched the operation and the success rates of the weight loss being maintained. It was a relatively new operation and so almost impossible to get statistics on the long term maintenance of the weight loss, also it was not yet clear if there were any long term effects of having the operation. I was desperate and decided it didn’t matter, this was my only chance to get down to a normal weight and if this didn’t work it was over and I would be obese forever. Every time I tried a diet and failed it took away a little more of my self-esteem, as the weight went back on it dented my pride, took a chunk of my self-confidence away and left me feeling weak and deflated. I just couldn’t continue with this cycle.
I began to save the £10,000 I needed for the operation and looked into other financing options.
I was just about to borrow the money I needed and go ahead with the operation when I saw an advert, requesting volunteers, for a BBC Diet Experiment. If I’m honest I wasn’t particularly keen on the idea of being on TV but I figured the likelihood of me being accepted for the show was slight, but the advert promised the chance to discover more about why I struggle with my weight. Shortly after submitting my application I was invited to attend the screening day in Manchester, I met professors from Oxford and Cambridge University who were knowledgeable and passionate about obesity research and really wanted to help us. I met some fantastic people at the screening day and was surprised a few months later to be invited to Liverpool to take part in the experiment. It was so refreshing to be around people that truly understood how I was feeling, the desperation of wanting to lose weight, the hopelessness of feeling so out of control of the situation and the disappointment of failing to lose the weight and maintain it time and time again.
During the show I learnt that the gut hormone that is released to tell you to stop eating wasn’t being produced in my stomach to the same levels as in other people, this categorised me as a Feaster – I could eat and eat and not feel full until I had eaten vast quantities of food. I also learnt that I had a large proportion of the ‘Fat Genes’ that are common in obese people. I was placed on the high protein low GI diet and successfully lost 3 stone in 3 months whilst filming the show. I still felt that I must have a psychological issue because why would anyone lose such a large amount of weight, as I had twice previously, to just pile it back on again? I spoke to the Clinical Psychologist on the show Tanya Byron and she advised that I seek help from a Clinical Psychologist that offered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy; she assured me that I was not alone in this behaviour and that CBT would help. I had 6 sessions of CBT and found it to be invaluable, it helped me to understand why I behave the way that I do and how I can understand and adjust that behaviour. CBT uses a number of exercises that help you to be more aware of behaviours and change those behaviours that are unhelpful. I was also introduced to Mindfulness Meditation, something that previously I would not have considered, but it really helped me with anxiety and relaxation. My life began to feel a lot more ordered and I was taking control.
I had a final set of blood tests done for the BBC in September 2014 and sat down with Dr Chris Van Tulleken to discuss the outcome – my risk of diabetes had halved and my cholesterol was now within normal limits. This was incredible, I had only lost 3 stone of the 16 stone that I needed to lose and my health had already significantly improved Based on the blood test results. He asked If I was doing any exercise and I told him I had started the NHS couch to 5k running challenge to which he said ‘Please hire a Personal Trainer, you should not be running until you’re at least 5 stone lighter. You will injure yourself’. So that’s exactly what I did, I had saved some money for the gastric bypass operation so I could invest in personal training instead. There were a number of trainers in my area but John Cammish stood out for me. He had some very inspiring weight loss stories from clients, on his website and I enjoyed reading his blogs, he was clearly knowledgeable and had helped many people. John was keen to help and we arranged to meet for the first session on 3rd October 2014………………….