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

Woman (UK) - - Contents -

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!

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