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…

Woman (UK) - - Contents -

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.

Ban­ish­ing crav­ings

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

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