no more excuses: how i lost 9st after living in denial for years
It took years for Becs Hurst to admit she had a problem, but achieving her goal wasn’t easy
Nobody wants to be that woman who has to ask for a bigger size in a clothes shop, or who has to hide her embarrassment when she catches people trying not to laugh behind her back. But for years that’s who I was, and no matter how upset it made me, and how ashamed I was that I’d inflicted this upon myself, I couldn’t seem to change my ways. But being in denial comes at a price.
Even as a child, my weight was an issue. While my mum cooked healthy chicken casseroles, I’d sneak a chocolate bar before dinner was even on the table. I was only 10 but I could easily eat more than both my parents, and would always ask for seconds. Then, afterwards, I’d open custard creams, and scoff as many as I could before Mum caught me.
By the time I started secondary school I was bigger than all the other girls my age and it didn’t go unnoticed. Taunts became a part of my everyday life and I couldn’t even go from one class to another without being teased – the bullies’ favourite jibe was to liken me to an earthquake as I walked down the corridor. But the embarrassment only made me rely on food more, it became my crutch and my comfort.
living in denial
When I started university in 1996, studying for a degree in early childhood studies and psychology, I was a size 18-20 and weighed 18st – far too heavy for my 5ft 6in frame. While I’d had a small group of friends at school, I refused to allow my size to stop me making new ones now. And, for the most part, no-one said anything about my size. I relished my new social scene but going out drinking meant I’d end up at the kebab shop at the end of the night where I’d order chips, drenched in ketchup.
I was great at faking confidence in front of my friends, but inside, the bigger I got,
the more miserable I became.
‘i knew it wouldn’t be easy’
I remember catching a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror one morning after a shower and feeling horrified at the rolls of fat around my waist. Despite there being no-one else in the room, I grabbed a towel to cover up as quickly as I could – I couldn’t bear to look at my hulking body. And my weight continued to impact my life.
After leaving university, I travelled to Tenerife to work as a children’s holiday rep at a hotel for the summer. On my first day I was handed my uniform – a pair of red and navy shorts and a matching T-shirt. Shorts were not something I ever wore, preferring to cover up in dark leggings. As I took the uniform off my manager, I could feel sweat begin to trickle down my back as I panicked that they wouldn’t fit and I’d have to ask for a bigger size. I managed to squeeze into the size 22, but even that embarrassment didn’t stop me from raiding the allinclusive buffet, piling my plate every day with pizza, chips and fried chicken.
Over the years, I was often left red faced. When I started a new job working at a children’s nursery, I’d often hear the children ask why I was so fat. Though I know they didn’t mean to be hurtful, their honesty stung. And once at a work meeting, the fold-up plastic chair that I was sitting on buckled under my weight. Everyone rushed to help, insisting the chair must have been unstable, but I knew they were just being kind. I was convinced that deep down, they were thinking the same thing as me – that I needed to lose weight. It wasn’t that I’d never tried to diet. There were occasions when I’d vow to do my utmost to only eat salads and drink water but within a day I’d find myself raiding the biscuit tin.
‘I’m telling you this because I love you – you’re getting too big,’ my dad said one evening when I was visiting. He was right, of course he was. But it was easier for me to shrug his words off than it was to change my ways.
I had relationships, and although my boyfriends never commented, my weight affected my confidence.
My denial continued for years and it wasn’t until I was 39 that I finally started to take notice of what people were telling me. At a routine smear test I struggled to heave myself onto the bed. My doctor gently explained that I’d find it a lot easier if I was to lose a few stone. Before I could make the usual excuses he told me that my size was putting me at risk of heart disease and even a stroke.
I knew obesity brought health problems, but I never thought I was big enough to fall into that category. Now there was no escaping the reality. I had a serious problem and unless I made a change, my life was at risk.
turning a corner
The doctor mentioned that I would be an ideal candidate for an NHS scheme offering a 12-week free trial at Slimming World, so, I took his advice and signed up.
At my first meeting in November 2015, I was so nervous as I stepped onto the scales. At 22st and a size 26, I knew it wouldn’t be an easy journey, but I was determined to succeed. As the days passed, I stuck to the Slimming World plan, cooking stir-fries and low-calorie shepherd’s pies from scratch. After the first month I’d lost 10lb. And, with the weight loss, came a burst of energy – I wanted to exercise. I started going on long walks which soon turned into jogs.
I enjoyed the time to clear my head and in July 2016 I started doing Parkrun events – and I found myself running for five, 10 and even 15 miles.
By March 2018, I’d slimmed down to 13st and a size 8-10. I felt incredible, but the biggest achievement was yet to come. In April 2018, I ran the London Marathon on behalf of the Sick Children’s Trust. Hearing people chant my name was euphoric. I was so used to people judging me for my size, yet there I was, being recognised for something inspirational.
I’ve since managed to keep the weight off and, at 42, I feel better than ever. The journey has been a marathon in itself but if I could give people like me – people who think they’ll never be able to get healthy – one bit of advice, it would be that if you don’t start trying you’ll never know what you can really achieve.
Bec struggled to diet in the past she always had a big appetite
Becs has even run a marathon for charity!