28st of grief
Catherine Bassett, 30, from Llanelli, ate for comfort – until she got a wake-up call
Whenever I felt depressed or emotional, I stuffed my face
Looking at the ultrasound screen, my heart thumped.
A lump rose in my throat, my eyes brimmed with tears. I’d remember this moment forever.
But this was not a memory that I’d treasure.
It was May 2013, I was 27 weeks pregnant. But I’d just lost my baby girl.
My body shook as I sobbed, and my partner Alex, 26, gripped my hand silently.
He didn’t speak. What could he say?
We couldn’t talk of the baby outfits we’d bought that wouldn’t be worn.
I’d had a miscarriage, but still had a funeral for our baby Scarlett on 30 May 2013.
The pain was so intense, it took my breath away.
But before I’d even had a chance to grieve, six weeks on I found I was pregnant again.
I was overjoyed but filled with anxiety, too.
What if it happens again? ‘Everything will be OK,’ Alex said, reassuring me.
But would it be OK? Or would I end up mourning another baby?
I already had one beautiful little girl, Lily – who’d arrived safely back in May 2011. But now I was terrified. Food had always been my comfort. And whenever I felt depressed or emotional, I stuffed my face. Takeaways, crisps, chocolate. My once- trim, size-12 figure had vanished under a layer of fat.
And now I was scoffing again. Couldn’t stop myself.
It was as though there was a Scarlett-shaped hole inside me that I was trying to fill. I daren’t think about the pain of my loss. So I kept numbing my hurt with food.
By the time I gave birth to little Lexi in April 2014, the size I’d been when I’d met Alex was a distant memory.
The thing is, although I wasn’t running from my pain any more, my comfort eating had now become a habit.
And one that I found I couldn’t easily break.
Not that I was one for trying to diet. Even when I hit size-26, and struggled to make it to the kitchen, I’d get Alex to do my bidding.
‘I could kill for a jam tart!’ I’d say. ‘Nip to the shops for me?’
It was only round the corner, but the only exercise I did was bending down to put chicken nuggets in the oven.
When Alex and I tied the knot in July 2016, I weighed a massive 28st 7lb.
‘You look beautiful,’ Alex kept saying to me.
But, in my strapless dress, I felt like a sausage fit to burst out of its skin.
The crunch finally came that August, when I took the kids to a local funfair.
Clambering into a ride with them, the attendant couldn’t close the bar over my huge tum.
‘Sorry, it’s too dangerous,’ they told me.
I was mortified. And, as I watched the kids squeal with excitement on the ride, I made a vow, then and there. I’m going to lose weight. I gradually cut out all of the snacks.
Started walking with Alex and the kids.
It was tough. Sometimes I’d be dripping with sweat
– and that was just walking to the shops.
I was walking for up to an hour, maybe two.
By May 2017, I’d lost a massive 10st.
I was 29 and weighed 18st, was a size-20.
But I’d started to waver.
I’ve lost all this weight, surely I deserve a treat now? I was in denial.
That was, until I had a routine appointment at the opticians later that month.
They found a shadow at the back of my eyes.
‘You need to see your GP immediately,’ they said.
I got an emergency appointment. They did ECG scans, I had blood tests...
‘Are you an alcoholic?’ the GP asked seriously, looking through my results. ‘N-no,’ I stuttered.
He told me that my fat was damaging my liver.
The shadow on my eyes had
appeared as a warning sign.
My liver was so damaged, they’d thought I had a drink problem. I was mortified! ‘You need to lose weight,’ the GP said. ‘Otherwise, you won’t live to see your 30th birthday.’ I felt numb. What have I done? My GP gave me a strict diet and exercise plan.
He arranged for me to have weekly weigh-in sessions.
‘Your liver can repair itself – if you lose weight,’ he said.
‘If you don’t follow the plans, your liver will fail,’
He wanted me to get down to a size -14 by Christmas.
But that was only seven months away.
Back in the car, I thought about giving up.
What’s the point? I’m going to die anyway…
But, as I thought about my lovely husband and two precious girls, tears streamed down my face.
I knew very well the pain of losing a loved one.
‘I’m so sorry,’ I sniffed to Alex when I got home.
‘We’re in this together,’ he said to me encouragingly.
Drying my tears, I chucked out all the junk food. ‘We’re going shopping!’ I told Alex.
At the supermarket I filled my trolley with fruit and vegetables.
For a whole week I ate only salads and kept a food diary.
And at my first weighin, I was
Slowly but surely, the weight melted off.
I started walking again, sometimes for four hours at a time! I was in agony, but I just kept thinking of the kids.
I will be there to see them grow up, I told myself with every step that I took.
In the morning, I ate bran flakes for energy.
I’d set off on a walk, then come back for jacket potato and beans for lunch.
And then I’d have tasty homemade spaghetti dish or curry for dinner.
I snacked on fruit and cereal bars and I felt full of energy.
I stopped feeling so sluggish, and began to feel so positive. And I was down to 13st! The doctor called me on 3 December, with the final results of my liver tests…
‘Your liver is back to normal,’ he told me.
When I hung up, I screamed in delight and swung the kids round for the first time.
Lifting them up, I felt as if I’d won a gold medal.
But I wasn’t finished yet… I
had my 30th birthday coming up in five months.
And, instead of planning my funeral,
I was planning a party!
I was determined to be a healthy weight.
So I started going to the gym – did weights to tone up my belly and arms.
By this May,
I was a trim size-10 and weighed 9st 13lb.
I felt incredible in a short, summer dress and heels at my party.
This summer, we went on a family holiday to Malaga.
And I wore a bikini for the first time ever!
I know it was losing Scarlett that made me eat so badly.
You never get over losing a child, but I’ve found peace with it now.
And I’m finally at peace with myself.
I’m not going to risk losing that ever again.
I’ll be here for my hubby and girls now
Easing my agony…
FLAB… …to FAB!
With my lovely Lily, at my biggest