By Alyce Collins
THIS MUM piled on the pounds gorging on a whole packet of biscuits a day after she became HOUSEBOUND following a devastating arthritis diagnosis which made her withdraw from horse riding with her children because she was TOO HEAVY – but now she is back on the horse after shedding NINE STONE.
Shop assistant, Laura Black (40) from Fife, Scotland, UK, had been overweight for many years, but after welcoming her second daughter Keely (11) she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which caused her constant pain and stiffness.
Laura took a range of medication, including methotrexate injections and steroids to try and control her aching body, but to little effect. Struggling to move led Laura to stop doing any physical activity because even the simplest of daily tasks would cause pain. Laura became depressed and her only comfort was food, so the worse she felt, the more she ate and her weight rose to 19st 9lb, and she wore size 24 clothing.
Her weight caused Laura to withdraw from social activities and hide away because she felt like she was being stared at whenever she left the house. With food as her coping mechanism, Laura would eat multiple sandwiches in a day, sausage rolls, donuts, ready meals and takeaways. On top of this, Laura drank around four cups of tea a day, and with biscuits to dip in every tea, she would get through a whole packet every day.
When she thought she was being healthy, Laura cooked spaghetti bolognese because she felt it was better than a microwave meal, despite cooking large portions with lots of garlic bread on the side.
In 2016, Laura was placed in remission from her rheumatoid arthritis and she knew that this had to be her turning point as she couldn’t carry on comfort eating. Laura felt worthless and lied to get out of going to social events for fear of being judged. Although her eating habits remained the same, in 2017 Laura started integrating in society again by getting a job at her local Homebase to help her feel more comfortable around others.
After being encouraged to join her local Slimming World group in May 2018, Laura has since lost over nine stone and now weighs 10st 5lb, having dropped seven dress sizes to become a size 10.
“I was overweight for many years and in 2009 I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis after having my second child, and it turned my life upside down,” said Laura.
“I was pretty much housebound and taking methotrexate injections and steroids to try and control the debilitating disease. I was unable to do any physical activity and it took all my strength to do simple daily tasks.
“As this was my lowest point, my only comfort mechanism was food. The more depressed I felt, the more I wanted to eat, which became a vicious circle that I couldn’t get out of.
“Being overweight for 15 years was a real struggle both physically and emotionally. I was depressed, anxious and had no self-confidence or self-esteem. I hid away as much as I could from society as I felt I was being judged for how I looked. I even lied to my family and friends to get out of social events because of my low self-worth.
“My weight stopped me from working, living life, horse-riding and many other daily activities. I feel like I have missed out on those precious years.
“On a typical day, I would eat half a packet of biscuits with my cup of tea, a bacon roll or two slices of toast with peanut butter. For lunch I would have a filled roll with crisps, a sausage roll and a fudge donut. I would snack in between meals as well.
“For tea I would have ready meals, takeaways and when I was having a ‘good’ day I would make bolognese, but I’d use unhealthy ingredients, like pre-made sauce. I would have a huge bowl as well as garlic bread. My diet was very unhealthy and full of comfort food. In the evenings, I could easily eat a big bag of crisps, chocolate, biscuits, scones and any other treats in the house.”
Laura, who has two daughters with her husband Neil (43), Kaitlynn (15) and Keely (11), had to stop doing a lot of activities with them because she was physically unable as a result of her weight. However, since shedding the weight, she has fallen back in love with horse riding. For years, Kaitlynn and Keely asked Laura to go with them, but she had to say no as she was ‘too big’.
Before losing weight, Laura would gorge on a packet of cookies, Jammie Dodgers, or bourbons alongside her cups of tea every day. Now, rather than waking up in pain and feeling sluggish, Laura wakes up full of energy. At the age of 40, Laura says she hasn’t looked this good since she was a teenager.
“I feel like a new woman, full of energy, having fun and loving life. The impact of losing weight is truly mind blowing and feels amazing. I have my life back and my life could not be better. I no longer feel worthless,” she said.
“I haven’t felt this good since I was a teenager. People walk past me in the street and don’t recognise me, or they take a double look and can’t quite believe it’s me. I get so many lovely compliments on how well I’ve done.
“I now eat a very healthy balanced diet and do a lot of walking, go to the gym, go horse riding and generally live life to the fullest. On an average day, breakfast is either fruit with yoghurt, egg omelette with tomatoes or cereal. Lunch is chicken salad, homemade soup, homemade vegetable rice or pasta. Tea could be homemade chilli, sausage and bean casserole or chicken and vegetable curry.
“If I have anything in between meals, it’s fruit or a low-calorie snack and I drink a lot of water. I no longer eat any processed food or takeaways. I’m introducing a few treats to try and help maintain my weight as I’m at my target weight now and happy with how I look.
“The highlight of my weight loss journey has been that I can now go horse riding with my two beautiful girls. For years they would ask, ‘mummy, can you come horse riding with us?’, and it broke my heart to tell them no as I was too big to go on a horse. Now, I go horse riding with them, and their faces were a picture the first time we all went together!
“Simple things like going clothes shopping, nights out, social events are all things I would have dreaded before, but not now and it feels so good. There’s no stopping me now.
“My advice to anyone out there thinking about losing weight is to believe in yourself, have a positive attitude and go in ready to change your life.
“Support is key to success. Be prepared and always plan a few meals in advance so you don’t find yourself stuck or not prepared because that’s when you will choose to reach for the quick convenience foods. Don’t feel that others are going to judge you, everyone is there for the same reason.”
To see more, visit www.instagram.com/slimmer_laura