Debbie Stewart, 24 , from Inverurie, has lost more than 10 stone on LighterLife. She’s still working towards her goal weight, but explains how LighterLife has given her emotional strength that she’s never had before.
Start weight: 23st
Current weight: 12st 11lbs
Weight loss so far: 10st 2lbs
Target weight: 9.5-10st
“Some of my earliest memories from when I was around 10 years old are getting up early at the weekend, taking as many biscuits, sweets or crisps that I could get away with without anyone noticing, and going to the beach on my own to eat them all. I also used to raid the spare change jar at home to get enough money together to go to the shop to buy junk food. To this day, I cannot pinpoint exactly why I did this, but Lighterlife has helped me realise that it was most certainly to do with emotion.
“This emotional response has stayed with me for as long as I can remember. When I was happy, I ate; when I was sad, I ate. My family used to wonder why I was so overweight, as I was quite active as a child. As a bit of a ‘tom boy’, I was always out on my bike, roller skates, and playing sports. However, they did not realise the emotional turmoil that was going on in my head, in which food was my only comfort. I hated eating in front of people and used to eat in private as much as I could.
“In my teenage years, I worked in a newsagents and remember frequently working through the back of the shop, out of sight, with endless packets of sweets, crisps, and fizzy drinks. Always worrying about what people thought of me, my self esteem was very low and I frequently had a voice in my head telling me that the group of people across the road weren’t laughing about something funny which had happened to them, but they were laughing at me.
“I felt everyone’s eyes on me and instead of taking an approach to lose weight, I continued eating because it comforted me. I carried on through my teens and early 20s putting on more and more weight through a mixture of comfort binge eating, and very large portions. I didn’t seem to have the switch in my head that told me when I was full. Food was filling the big void I had in my life. I knew I had an issue but I kept telling myself that I was too far gone to get help, and with this making me sad, I then ate more – so it was a vicious circle.
“Sports drinks were a major part of my weight gain – I used to drink them every day because I felt tired, not realising that they would only give me a burst of energy for a very short period of time before I would come crashing back down again. If I had a stressful day at work, I would ‘reward’ myself with a takeaway. If I was feeling tired, I would persuade myself that a big portion of sugary sweets would make me feel better.
“I don’t remember exactly what triggered my decision to contact LighterLife – but I know one of the main reasons was that I was to be a bridesmaid at my sisters wedding 10 months later, and after being disgusted at the photos of me at another wedding, I knew I had to make some changes. At the time, it didn’t frighten me that I may be dead in a few years if I had carried on gaining weight – I was only concerned at the looks I received from people and being paranoid that people were constantly laughing at me.
“In January 2014, I came to visit LighterLife Inverurie, where I weighed in at more than 23 stone. For someone aged 24, this should have been a major wake up call, but still I don’t think it made me worry about my own health, but about what other people saw in me. I realise now that I didn’t join LighterLife to improve my health, which should have been my number one priority.
“People told me that such a drastic diet wouldn’t work, that it was too dangerous, and if I lost weight too quickly, I would just put it straight back on. I knew, however, that this was the plan I wanted to start. From the very first appointment, I felt comfortable, my Counsellor Susan was lovely, and I knew it felt right. I still had some doubts as to whether I could banish the coping mechanisms I had gone through 24 years with, but I knew I had to try.
“From January until the end of August, I lost a phenomenal amount of weight and learnt more about myself and my mind in those eight months, than I had in my whole life.
“I had quite a few life changing events over the next few months and again, my previous coping mechanism was my first reaction. However, I now had something that I didn’t have before – the strength and support to try and fight off the demons. My Counsellor and the other group members were an amazing support – I can’t thank them enough. It was at this stage that I truly realised the insane connection between our minds and our bodies. Unlike any other diet out there, LighterLife delved into, not what we were eating, but WHY we were eating it. It peels back the emotional layers to get to the root of the problem and tackles it from there.
“A year on, I am 10 and a half stone lighter, and although I had some bad situations at the end of the year, the skills in which my Counsellor has taught me have proved to be lifesaving. I had voices telling me to go back to the comfort of eating, but I was strong enough to fight them off and eventually get past the mental ‘barrier’ I had of hitting the 10 stone weight loss mark. It seemed like forever leading up to it, but when I finally hit it, it felt amazing.
“I still have a way to go, but I truly believe LighterLife, and my amazing Counsellor, have saved my life – not just in physical terms, but in psychological terms. Although I still get a lot of negative thoughts popping in to my head, I can now deal with them in a logical manner, instead of using food. The psychological side is the main part of Lighterlife – weight loss just happens to be the good side effect that goes with it.
“Many people have tried to knock me down in the last few months by telling me that ‘I look unhealthy’ by losing the weight, and that I will never sustain it. Before I joined the plan, I would have believed every word they said and given up at the first hurdle, but now, although I still get the occasional doubt in myself, I mostly have the strength to ignore the negative comments and carry on, adamant that I will get to a healthy BMI.
“I firmly believe that in order to better yourself, you need to tackle the emotional issues. Anyone can lose weight if they have the willpower, but unless you tackle the root of the problem, sustaining a healthy, happy life will be difficult.
“In November 2014, my Counsellor encouraged me to participate in a charity firewalk. My first response was ‘I can’t’, but with her help, I realised I could do it, and I did. Finally, after never feeling any pride in myself, I had two things at once – turning my life around, and getting past the voices in my head telling me there was no way I was stepping on a fire pit. I cannot describe how amazing the feeling was to do something that every ounce of your mind and body is telling you not to do.
“I sincerely hope this can help people who are similar to the way I was before I joined LighterLife. I’ve managed to lose 10 stone, against all odds, and I know that the only person that can stop you is yourself. I also want to say thanks to my Counsellor Susan Murray. Without her support I’m sure I could never have come this far.”