Remember in Bridget Jones when she’s at her mother’s turkey curry buffet dressed like some dodgy 1970’s carpet? Mr Darcy makes a comment to his own mother within earshot of Bridget saying he’s not desperate enough to go out with someone like her and Bridget decides that that was the moment she would change things…..she wrote a diary and well the rest as they say is history! People ask me what was my moment. When did that light bulb go ding in my head to spark such a change? A change that would lead to a total transformation.
I was bringing in 2016 by having a New Year’s Eve dinner party at my new flat with friends. Earlier in the evening one of my gay best friends, Greg had presented me with a beautiful pink leather bound journal embossed with my initials CWS. After we watched the fireworks on my rooftop he asked me what I wanted to achieve in the coming year. He eventually wriggled it out of me. I think he could see me wanting to say out loud for the first time, admitting to myself that I wanted to lose some weight.
I was more than intelligent enough to realise that being the size I was wasn’t healthy in the long term. I think I’d always resigned myself to being bigger. I’d never tried dieting or exercising before because no one had pushed me to do it or was too polite to say and I guess those around me who loved me didn’t want to upset me. I’m a perfectionist so the pressure of being successful made me scared of failing.
The moment that really cemented the change and made me say to myself this really needs to happen was on the 2 January 2016 and I remember it clearly. It was a rainy day in London Town and I was with a friend. We had been on one of the London tourist buses and hopped (although at the size I was it was more like plopped) off to take a photo by Horseguards Parade. Looking back at this photo now I don’t recognise myself. Who is that girl? I don’t just mean my appearance. It’s difficult to explain and maybe my mind has shut off that girl because I’m angry and infuriated at myself for letting myself get to that point because I deserved to treat myself better (and by treating myself better we are obviously not just talking about buying myself even more gorgeous handbags).
From that day on, I was on a mission, a very secret mission. As secret as the naughty foods I used to eat and hide from people which helped me to get to that size. This time however I enlisted a secret agent called Sapan. He founded his own fitness studio (London Fields Fitness) with an ethos of affordable fitness for anybody. Gyms are typically seen as intimidating places by larger people but his gym is for anybody. By anybody I literally mean any body no matter your shape, size or fitness. I didn’t want to be seen by anybody exercising so Sapan agreed to train me at 5am. He told me that it would be a challenge but that he would support me. Let’s just say that we didn’t get off to a flying start. I often wouldn’t turn up for sessions which obviously frustrated him as he was getting up so early. One of the best excuses was I couldn’t go as the door handle to my front door had broken so I was locked in.
Things that most people take for granted were difficult for me such as walking to the station to get to work. No joke the station is at the other end of my road, we are talking about a two minute walk here but embarrassingly I would struggle with that and take a taxi every morning to the office. Every morning I was regularly picked up by a lovely lady London cabbie and she is my angel and how appropriate that her name is Angela. On our morning drives we would get chatting and she mentioned that she went to Slimming World. She absolutely did not suggest or hint that I should go but something was registering in my brain and I got researching. I was nervous that going to a ‘group’ wasn’t for me and that it would be a bit like Marjorie Dawes in Little Britain. Eventually I plucked up the courage to go, accompanied by my angel Angie. I was petrified of stepping onto the scales. Everyone sat in the circle was so supportive and encouraging. I met another three amazing ladies there who I don’t just count as friends now. They are my London family and diamonds in the form of Julie, Jade and Casey. Absolutely no shaming went on but I did it, I stood on those scales and I weighed in at just short of 27 stone.
I was devastated and shocked that it was such a big number but from that moment on I told myself that I would never ever see that number again. It was truly at that point that the lightbulb that went ding in my head on New Year’s Eve fully exploded and I was a woman on a mission. I actually turned up to my sessions with Sapan and I committed myself to healthy eating. It was daunting at first but the weight started coming off which made me want to do it even more.
All of this was happening but it was still a secret from everyone (apart from a select few). I didn’t even tell my parents. After about two months people started asking me if I’d lost some weight so I started to open up about it. The momentum kept on going and two years later I’d gone from 27 stone to 12 stone.
My journey to wellness (because it’s not just about losing weight and as you’ve heard there have been bumps in the road) has been a huge achievement in my life. It took a lot of courage to say those words, take those steps and admit I had a problem. The greatest achievement however is having been lucky enough to have met, been inspired and have been supported by some truly wonderful people.
My life at 27 years of age at 27 stone was a good life and I was happy. I had parents who adored me along with a loving family, friends who took me for who I was, a good career and a lovely home. The journey is still continuing but at 30 years of age at 12 stone I still have everything I had before but my experience of life has been magnified to be a thousand times better, has given me opportunities and I quite literally feel that a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
I truly believe that I can do anything if I put my mind to it with hard work and dedication. If you are trying to do something which seems impossible just think of my story. I will always need to work hard not to fall off the horse but if I do I know I have the strength to get back up again. Talking of horses, two and a bit years on after that fateful lightbulb exploding moment photo was taken I found myself back at Horseguards Parade for the Trooping of the Colour. I had to have another photo taken, this time with Mr O by my side, wearing a pink dress and heels. There you go – life enriched and magnified. So what if you fall? Oh, but my darlings what if you fly?