It happened to me Benedict Cumberbatch made me lose 10 stone!
Sara Karle was so excited to meet her hero – but looking back at her photo, she was horrified by what she saw…
Meeting your idol should be a moment you cherish. So when I got the chance to have my photo taken with Benedict Cumberbatch, I was so excited. But after, as I stared at the snap – and my huge stomach and puffy face – I knew I’d remember it for all the wrong reasons…
I hadn’t always been big. As a child I was constantly running around or climbing trees. But when puberty hit, other things took priority. I’d skip PE to gossip with mates, and weekends were spent in front of the TV. I became lazy – hiding in hedges on cross-country runs, or going in goal to avoid running around the hockey pitch.
You’d think exerting less energy would mean I’d be less hungry – but instead I was eating more than ever. I’d snack on slice after slice of toast with jam and spend all my pocket money on chocolate.
By the time I went to uni, in September 1992, I was a size 18. But while I was bigger than my friends, the truth is, it never really bothered me. At 5ft 8in, I reasoned I could get away with carrying a little extra weight.
Only, on a student budget, I had to live on cheap carbs – pasta, bread and chips – so when I left uni and got a job in admin, I was squeezing into size 22s. And thanks to afterwork drinks with colleagues, usually followed by a kebab, I got even bigger.
I refused to weigh myself, but I could feel my clothes getting tighter, and I’d always be reaching for the next size up – anything loose to cover my wobbly hips and thighs.
I’d try to diet, but after a few months, I’d go back to my old ways – snacking on cakes and biscuits in the office. And my bad habits followed me home, too. Living alone, as soon as I’d get in, I’d head straight to the kitchen and put dinner in the microwave. Then I’d settle on the sofa and – a devout Benedict Cumberbatch fan – sit for hours watching my favourite TV series, Sherlock.
While I focused on Benedict’s perfect face, I’d absent-mindedly devour whatever was in front of me. Before I knew it, I’d eaten a family-sized lasagne and three packets of crisps.
My friends didn’t comment on my size, and I tried to convince myself it wasn’t an issue, but deep down my weight ruled my life. I’d get breathless going up stairs and, in January 2014, I spent my 40th – by which point I was a mammoth size 30 – feeling hideous.
That should have been the point I said enough was enough. But I kept gorging on pizza and sugary treats.
Then, a month later, I heard about a Sherlock Holmes convention, 200 miles
‘My weight ruled My life’
away in Birmingham. Benedict Cumberbatch would be there and you could meet him and get your photo taken.
Giddy with excitement, I set off from my home in Gateshead. I spent hours queuing before, finally, I was standing in front of him. As I shook his hand, I couldn’t stop smiling – and then came time for our photo.
I couldn’t wait to show my friends. Only, picking it up from the collection desk, I was horrified. Of course, Benedict looked lovely – but next to him, I looked horrendous in my jumper and with my puffy face. There was no way I’d be showing this picture to anyone and I went home feeling deflated.
Losing weight began to play on my mind again, and when my mum was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it was the final push I needed. Envisaging myself with all sorts of health issues, I couldn’t put it off any longer.
I stuck the photo of me and Benedict on my fridge for motivation and began looking into diet plans. And by February 2015, I signed up to Weight Watchers online.
Not owning a set of scales, I went to a local pharmacy and was speechless when the dial sprung to 21st 10lb. But I promised myself I’d never see that number again.
Back home, I prepared weekly menus and made packed lunches to take to work. At first, scared to fail, I kept what I was doing to myself. But losing 1st 8lb in six weeks gave me the push I needed to join my local Weight Watchers group and in April 2015, I went to my first meeting.
There, I discovered I could still eat anything I wanted in moderation – I could have cake on birthdays at work or the odd glass of wine. I loved the fact I didn’t have to deny myself the things I enjoyed.
And, of course, while there were times when I wanted to gorge and order a huge takeaway, all I needed to do was to glance at the photo on the fridge to banish those thoughts to the back of my mind.
Losing 1-2lb a week, I also started exercising, walking a mile to and from work each day. With each week, I got quicker and not so out of breath. It wasn’t long before friends and family noticed my changing shape, too. My clothes were getting looser and my cheekbones started to emerge.
By July 2016, I’d lost 10st 1lb, and was down to my target weight of 11st 9lb and a size 12. I couldn’t help but cry as I got off the scales – I was so proud of how far I’d come.
I’ve managed to maintain my weight and have even taken up running – I do 5k at least three times a week. But I’ve still got that photo of me and Benedict up on my fridge – it’s a reminder of just how far I’ve come. If I ever get the chance to meet him again, I know that I’ll look – and feel – better than ever.
the picture that changed everything: Sara with Benedict Cumberbatch
Sara tried to convince herself that her size wasn’t an issue 21st 10lb Size 30 despite smiling for the camera, she spent her 40th feeling miserable