The weigh for­ward

Amanda Wal­dram, 48, from Not­ting­ham, adored food, but was her pas­sion send­ing her to an early grave?

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Tucking into a de­li­cious sticky tof­fee pud­ding, I rubbed my belly. ‘That was de­li­cious!’ I said proudly. I’d just served up a huge tra­di­tional English roast, com­plete with pota­toes, car­rots drip­ping in but­ter, and cheesy cau­li­flower. And now it was time for the sticky sweet English treat. ‘I’m im­pressed!’ said my friend Monique. Orig­i­nally from San Diego, Monique was a friend of mine from uni. We were both ma­ture stu­dents, and she was liv­ing with me and my hus­band, Darron, and our kids, Sul­li­van, seven, and Kyra, four, while we com­pleted our law de­grees. But law wasn’t the only thing we had a pas­sion for – we both adored food. Ever since she’d moved in, we’d been tak­ing turns to show off our culi­nary skills, hold­ing cook­ing com­pe­ti­tions al­most ev­ery night.

Just the night be­fore, we’d all tucked into one of Monique’s spe­cial­i­ties – a plate of bur­ri­tos ooz­ing with sour cream and cheese.

Be­tween the two of us, we were get­ting through about three pounds of but­ter a week! It didn’t bother me that much. Yes, I was over­weight, but I was so used to it by now. I’d been 16st when I had Kyra, and had piled on the pounds ever since. But I loved ev­ery­thing about food – think­ing about it, pre­par­ing it, and eat­ing it – and be­ing over­weight was just part of the deal.

That evening, pol­ish­ing off my large por­tion of pud­ding, I sud­denly felt a nig­gling pain in my side. I’m sure it’s just in­di­ges­tion, I thought. As the evening went on, the pain be­came worse, and I found my­self shuf­fling around in my seat try­ing to shift it. Later that night, af­ter the kids had gone to bed, I was sud­denly vi­o­lently sick. ‘I think I need to go to the hos­pi­tal,’ I told Darron. I was in agony, and at Queen’s

Med­i­cal Cen­tre in Not­ting­ham, I was given mor­phine while doc­tors ran tests.

‘You have chole­cys­ti­tis,’ a doc­tor ex­plained after­wards.

It was an in­fec­tion in the gall­blad­der, caused by choles­terol.

I was also told that my gall­blad­der was full of stones – like a bag of mar­bles!

‘So what hap­pens now?’ I asked, pet­ri­fied.

‘It’s very se­ri­ous,’ the doc­tor said. ‘We’ll need to op­er­ate to re­move your gall­blad­der im­me­di­ately.’

And, as if that news wasn’t enough to try to take in, I was then told that I was too over­weight to un­dergo key­hole surgery.

I wasn’t sure ex­actly, but I knew I had to be over 20st…

To be el­i­gi­ble for surgery, I’d need to get my BMI down to 36.

I was dev­as­tated. ‘I’ve done this to my­self,’ I cried to Darron, so em­bar­rassed. The next day, doc­tors dis­charged me. ‘We’ll give you a chance to get your weight down,’ I was told. I was glad to be go­ing home, but I knew there was a long road ahead. I was in terrible pain, my chole­cys­ti­tis ran the risk of be­com­ing sep­tic, and my gall­blad­der was blocked.

If I ate any­thing re­motely fatty – even a but­tered sarnie – I’d be sick.

But Darron helped me through, and af­ter weeks of eat­ing noth­ing but lean meats and veg­eta­bles, my BMI was fi­nally low enough for me to un­dergo surgery.

Af­ter the op­er­a­tion, my doc­tor said my gall­blad­der had been so en­larged, that they’d only just man­aged to re­move it.

It was the wake up call I needed.

And, a few months later, I was de­ter­mined to make a change.

‘I need to do some­thing about my weight,’ I said to Darron.

Then, for the first time in over a decade, I stood on the scales. 18st 6lb. I was mor­ti­fied. The next day, I signed up to

Show­ing off had come at a price

Weight Watch­ers. Fol­low­ing their low calo­rie diet, I man­aged to drop 6st in a year. I felt so much bet­ter, too – I was no longer in pain, and all my clothes fit bet­ter.

But the fol­low­ing year proved very dif­fi­cult.

Af­ter los­ing Darron’s dad, my dad, and both my grand­par­ents within the space of a few months, my healthy eat­ing took a back­seat.

Then, my mum was di­ag­nosed with can­cer. So de­pressed, I fell back into my bad habits, and started us­ing food for com­fort.

And be­fore I knew it, I’d crept back up to 17st. Thank­fully, Mum was even­tu­ally given the all clear.

‘Right, we both need to get back on our feet,’ she said one day.

Mum set the ex­am­ple by sign­ing up to Weight Watch­ers her­self, and soon enough, I’d fol­lowed suit.

To­gether, we fol­lowed the diet plans and even started ex­er­cis­ing.

It took a bit longer for me to shift the weight this time, but, two years later, I was down to 13st 10lb.

Los­ing the weight has im­proved my mood and sleep, but, more im­por­tantly, I’ve nipped it in the bud be­fore any other fat-re­lated con­di­tions set in.

It’s a weight off my shoul­ders, in more ways than one.

I was em­bar­rassed

I wanted to be around for my kids


Scoff­ing away

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