By Mark McConville
MEET the British woman who became overweight after a sexual assault in a desperate bid to make herself unattractive to avoid a repeat of the incident but was inspired to lose more than EIGHT stone after her dad was diagnosed with cancer.
Rebecca Wass (26), from Nottinghamshire, UK, had originally piled on the pounds to a heavy 18st 1lb and UK size 24 after she was raped in 2011.
It was only when her father was diagnosed with bowel cancer which then spread, just over four years ago that she realised the damage she was doing to her body and lost 8st 5lbs. She now weights a svelte 10st 1lb and wears a UK size 8 or 10.
Her dad, Chris, had been fit and ran regular marathons, so Rebecca realised if it could happen to him then her unhealthy lifestyle was leading her down a dangerous path.
“I’d always been a ‘big’ child, and growing up I yo-yo dieted a lot as a teenager,” she said.
“I can’t remember ever being smaller than a U.K. size 14. But in 2011 I was sexually assaulted and I’ve since learned that was the trigger that caused me to pile on the pounds.
“I used food as a coping mechanism, and I thought that by making myself ‘bigger’, I’d also make myself as unattractive as possible, which would stop a situation like that happening again.
“When my dad was diagnosed with cancer I knew then that if I didn’t get a handle on myself, and change the relationship with food; that I’d do more damage to my body that I already had done if the worst happened to my Dad.
“He was really into fitness; he ran multiple times a week and had done marathons etc, so I wanted him to be proud of me too.”
Rebecca explained why she doesn’t feel vulnerable again now she has lost weight.
“I grew as a person, any survivor of sexual assault will instantly blame themselves, and that’s what I did,” she said.
“But I’ve since realised that I didn’t control the attackers actions, and so I shouldn’t blame myself.”
Rebecca used the Cambridge Weight Plan to drop dress sizes, which is a flexible weight loss programme where the dieter can choose a Total Diet Replacement option or opt for another programme that includes healthy eating alongside meal replacements.
Rebecca, who co-owns a children’s boutique called Jak & Daisy with her mum, lost 108lbs using this plan before gaining some weight when her dad died of cancer in September 2016, aged 62 leaving behind his wife and three children.
She then lost another 50lbs by herself. She explained the impact her father’s death had on her and the difference in her diet and exercise plan before and after her weight loss.
“It was a very hard time for the family, he was the concrete that held us all together,” she added.
“He loved to cook, and create new concoctions in the kitchen, so I’ve found comfort in that since he passed. When I cook I feel closer to him, it’s just I’m using less cream, salt and so on, and opting for more veggies and spices than before.
“Before I lost the weight, I’d walk a little each day. But my diet wasn’t pretty, or healthy. It probably consisted of lots of pasta, curries, cheese (my weakness), lots of bread. Overall it was very stodgy and carb heavy.
“Now I try and make sure 70 per cent of my plate (at least) is veggies, with the other 30 per cent being split between protein, healthy fats and carbs.
“A low carb diet is what works before for me, I also drink an insane amount of water; between four to five litres a day. As for exercise I walk as much as I can, and I’m aiming to get back into some sort of gym routine in February.”
Rebecca’s change has not only been in weight as her new figure and healthy lifestyle has also changed how she feels about herself.
“Before I decided to get healthy, and make permanent lifestyle changes I was very unhappy,” she said.
“Looking in the mirror made me feel physically ill. I’d always come up with excuses to cancel on friends, because I hated who I’d become. Then when we did go out I felt so self conscious that I never really enjoyed a second of it.
“I wouldn’t say that losing weight has changed my life. But becoming healthy both physically and mentally definitely has, and the weight loss was just part of that.
“Since I started becoming healthy I can do more, I’m more confident, more social and just so much happier in a lot of ways, which in my eyes is the most important thing.
“I’m 85 per cent happy with myself now. I’d LOVE to say that I’m 100 per cent happy with myself and how I look, but in today’s society, and with pressure from the media I don’t think any woman (or man) can say that they are 100 per cent happy with themselves. There’s always room for improvement in some way, and everyone has something that they wish they could change.”
Rebecca was left with a lot of excess skin after her dramatic weight loss, resulting in her getting a tummy tuck operation after a year of maintaining her weight.
She had some advice for anyone wishing to follow her example and adopt a new healthy lifestyle.
“Being in the right frame of mind is the most important thing; you’ve got to want to make healthy changes for you, and no one else,” she said.
“Also make sure you find a plan that works for you. I follow a lot of people on Instagram that have had huge success with Slimming World, Weight Watchers, Lighter Life, calorie counting etc, and of course Cambridge Weight Plan like me.
“There are so many different diet plans out there that there will be something that works for you. Stay hydrated too, half the time if you feel hungry you’re not, your’re just dehydrated.
“The weight loss/healthy living community on Instagram is amazing too, I wouldn’t have been able to stick with any lifestyle change without their constant support.”
For more information see https://www.instagram.com/rebeccasjourneytohealthy/