It was almost lunchtime in late November 2020 when my phone alerted me to someone approaching the front door. Being a Saturday neither hubby or I were dressed. Instead we’d been mooching around the house, hiding from the dull November day, in our dressing gowns. Using the ring camera I surprised my cousin and her husband as they tried to surreptitiously leave the plastic bag they were carrying on the doorstep and sneak off. We chatted for a few minutes then, having decided since they were family it wouldn’t matter if they saw me in my dressing gown I opened the door. Adhering to the new tier 3 – soon to be 4, Herts had been placed in, we stood the requisite 2M apart either side of the threshold. She’d lost weight again and I’d put it on.

A little weight loss back story

Years before, this same cousin had been part of my inspiration to lose weight – a LOT of weight. She, her sister and my own sister had all lost, over a period of time substantial amounts of weight. Seeing them achieve amazing results back then, spurred me on my own weight-loss path. So around 7 years ago (my God is it really that long ago?!) I joined dietchef, prepared meals snacks etc delivered to your door. Sounds great right? Hmm the food is a little, well, diet food. It tasted okay, the portions are tiny – which was expected. The texture was a bit cardboard-like. And they must have been so full of preservatives its unreal – nothing needed to be refrigerated! Everything stay ‘fresh’ for a whole month or more… Still it worked, I lost weight. I started to move more, looked into joining the local gym again.

Gallstones

Then I was struck with immense stomach pains. I ignored the pain until my co-worker repeatedly told me it looked a bit more serious. A couple of visits to the GP later, and I am diagnosed with gallstones. The second Dr I saw – a locum, having been dismissed by the first one and told to go home and take some paracetamol, took one look at me and said ‘Its gallstones, you’re prime for them, overweight – losing some rapidly, around 40, female.’ When I left there I was feeling relieved and headed for the blood-tests which had been ordered. I was also advised to reduce the amount of fat I consumed dramatically to help my gallbladder settle and manage the situation going forward.

A different kind of weight loss

I duly did this and even got a Drs letter to release me from the diet chef subscription. I discovered myfitnesspal. The best macro tracking app available. For me at that time it was an absolute miracle. I set my nutrition goals to limit my fat intake to reduce the likely-hood of another flare up. My calorie intake was set to 1500 a day. Due to the amount of fat in the average slice of bread that was gone from my diet and I never liked rice so by default I was reducing my bad carb intake too.

An hour after discussing my blood test results with the original Dr, who had dismissed my pain on my first visit, I get a call from her. Can I go and get another set of liver function blood tests done now? The inflammatory count was so high that she was concerned it may not have reduced sufficiently. I was still annoyed that she was the one who’d caused in the first place! Feeling depressed after she’d dismissed my pain as ‘something women put up with’, I’d gone home and demolished a tub of Hagen Daas – further inflaming my gallbladder and bringing me back to the GP.

Ultrasound and more weight loss

My ultrasound showed several smaller stones and one whopper in the neck of gallbladder opening into the bile duct. My lower fat diet was working to keep the inflammation down and I was losing weight steadily – 1 to 2kg a week. I became addicted to the gym. Attending classes on at least 6 out of 7 days and sometimes 2 classes a day. Added to that I found a love of running. And would often do 5km 3 or 4 times a week.

Fast forward 10 months

In total I lost 35kg, going from a size 20 to a size 6-8. But the gallstones continued periodically to cause massive pain and inflammation. My fiancée and my consultant together persuaded me that the only real option was gallbladder removal. So 6 weeks before our wedding in 2015 that’s what happened.

Like so many, after the removal of my gallbladder I was still unable to eat a lot of fat and dairy was my nemesis. Unable to digest fats sufficiently they tend to go ‘straight through’ me. But steadily I was able to add in more.

Fast forward to 2019

Over the intervening 4 years I continued to add more fats and consequently more puddings and breads into my diet. The result? Weight gain. Added to that once we’d moved house I was unable to access my favourite gym as easily as before, my new lifestyle with my husband was different. Going out, drinking more, eating out – I do love food! So I put on 20kg. And went up to a size 12.

I hit the gym, confident I wasn’t over eating. Nothing changed. I worked with a PT, nothing changed. To her surprise but not mine. I had hit menopause a couple of years before and I noticed the changes to my energy levels and body shape too. I grew a belly. Never before had I had a belly like this, disproportionate to the rest of me. So prominent. I’d missed out on the chance to have kids but I looked like I’d had 4.

The most I managed to drop, with exercise and reducing portion sizes etc. was 4kg.

Lockdown the best excuse ever

Like a lot of us during 2020 I did very little by way of exercise. I tried a few online Les Mills classes – those I’d been addicted to when I was getting to a size 8. But my lack of energy and lower level of fitness overall gave me the excuses I needed to stop.

Lockdown was also a great excuse to explore drinking more and different alcohol – nowhere to go in the morning, nothing urgent to do tomorrow, why not have another G&T? Our shopping bills went up as the alcohol in them became more frequent. Along with the snacks and treats. My gallbladder issues long forgotten there is almost nothing I can’t eat. Dairy remains the only real issue. I gained more weight and came within 7kg of my size 20 self. Though this time as I was carrying more weight in my belly I was ‘only’ a dress size 14, bordering on a 16.

Back to December 2020

So coming back full circle to that Saturday in late November. My cousin once again stood in front of me slimmer than ever. She’d gained some weight over the years but I knew she’d been following someone called Shelley Booth since the summer. It was then on the doorstep, me in my dressing gown, she having walked the 1.5miles to mine that my blooming marvellous cousin offered me a free place on the December plan with her. Knowing that once again if she could do it I could do it, I said yes please. Then spent the next couple of weeks trying to come up with excuses why I couldn’t do it!

Look out for my next post for what came next. But for now that’s my weight loss story BSB (before Shelley Booth).