As Kathryn Rogers bit into yet another chocolate bar, she felt utterly repulsed at her own behaviour.
But nothing could stop her from munching – not even the fact she’d already spent £10,000(US $15,690.24) undergoing a potentially dangerous stomach stapling operation or that she had managed to drop from a size 32 and 25st to an enviably slim size 10.
“I might have had the operation but I still had the mind-set of a fat woman. Whenever I felt low, I turned to all my old favourite calorie-laden goodies,” says Kathryn, 51.
But last August, when she found herself squeezing into size 18 trousers having let herself go up four dress sizes eating small amounts of junk food more regularly, Kathryn realised something had to change for good.
Six months on, not only has she lost four stone naturally to get down to 11st, she has also completed a hypnotherapy course and started her own business helping others to shed the pounds.
“It was like a switch – I suddenly realised if I didn’t stop eating I was going to end up a size 32 again,” she says. “I was also so angry with myself for paying over £10,000 for surgery to help me lose weight and there I was making myself fat again.”
Kathryn, who is 5ft 7in, had struggled with her weight most of her life. “We lived with my grandma when I was little. She adored baking and cooking stodgy food. The house was always full of treats.
“I became addicted to food. By the time I was 12, I would eat one chocolate bar after another until I felt sick. I was already in size 14 clothes.
“But when I got interested in boys, I became more conscious of my figure. I went on one diet after another. And when I still couldn’t lose weight I began taking laxatives to try to lose the pounds.”
But at 24, after splitting from her first serious boyfriend, Kathryn began comfort eating and put on four stone in a year.
“I hated myself but had no self-control. I’d eat takeaways and chocolate, knowing it would make me unhappy.
“I was a size 24, and 16st when I met my first husband who loved wining and dining me. I gradually put on another four stone during my 20s.”
When Kathryn was 36 she met her second husband, Allan Rogers, now 53, on a blind date, two years after her divorce.
“I was embarrassed about my weight but Allan said my size didn’t bother him,” says Kathryn from Sheffield. “And he must have loved me because we married in March 1998, 11 weeks after meeting.
Kathryn kept trying to diet. “I lost five stone in months once but regained it all and more. I stabilised at 25st. I was only just fitting into a size 32 and had 63-inch hips.
“I was repulsed by myself – I could only wear elasticated clothes because I was so big. My back hurt and I walked around like an old lady.”
Kathryn also suffered from the womb condition endometriosis, and after she had put up with painful stomach cramps for years, her doctor recommended a full hysterectomy. But they couldn’t operate until she lost weight.
“My doctor said if I didn’t sort myself out the weight or the endometriosis would eventually kill me. My BMI was 56. I was classed as morbidly obese.
“I was heading to an early grave thanks to my own greed. But I loved food too much to lose the weight naturally, so my doctor referred me for stomach stapling surgery at BMI Thornbury Hospital in Sheffield. But when I saw the specialist, Roger Ackroyd, he explained I would be on a waiting list for months.”
So in December 2004, Kathryn and Allan took out a loan for £10,500 to pay for the surgery. “I saw it as an answer to all my problems. I assumed I wouldn’t be able to eat as much, so I would lose weight and then I could also have the hysterectomy I so desperately needed.”
In January 2005, Kathryn underwent the complex two-hour surgery, where a row of titanium staples, shrunk her stomach to golf-ball size. “A couple of teaspoons of mashed potato or a plain cracker was all I could tolerate to start with,” she says.
Kathryn lost nine stone in six months – going down to a size 20 and weighing 16st. Then in May 2006, she was back in theatre for a full hysterectomy, ending her crippling endometriosis. By 2007, Kathryn was a very slim size 10, and weighed 10st 4lb.
“It was the thinnest I’d been since I was a teenager,” she recalls. “I really loved my new figure. I could wear skinny jeans and a skimpy top and look good in them. Over the next couple of years my self-confidence went sky-high.”
Maintaining her weight at around 11st and a size 12, it wasn’t until August 2011 when she started a new job in adult social care for Powys County Council in Llandrindod Wells, Wales, that her diet control waned.
“Away from Allan for four nights a week in a small rented flat, I felt lonely. Soon I began nibbling on goodies again,” she says.
Kathryn discovered she could eat little and often to avoid the painful ‘dumping’ syndrome, when gastric surgery patients, feel very ill and sweat profusely if they overeat. “I could eat a cake, wait an hour and eat again without getting poorly. And the more I did it, the greater tolerance I had. So a cake would turn into a packet of biscuits and an hour later, a chocolate bar.
“Soon I was eating fish and chips again and cream cakes in the office.”
In four months, Kathryn’s dress size went from a 12 to a 16, and her weight rose to 14st.
She recalls: “I’d lost my self-control. Allan tried to warn me but I didn’t care what damage I was doing.”
It wasn’t until she saw photos of herself last August weighing 15st and a size 18 that she realised the horror of what she’d done.
“If I didn’t take control I’d be back in size 32 trousers. I remembered what the gastric surgery doctor said: ‘I can fix your stomach, but not your head’. It was my mental addiction to food I had to resolve.”
After reading about food addiction she trained as a clinical hypnotherapist.
“I visualised where I wanted to be in six months and it wasn’t a size 32. But I wanted to fix myself this time,” she says. “I realised what I needed was to care about myself enough not to binge eat. It was like someone had just turned on a light switch.”
Kathryn swapped takeaways and chocolate bars for healthy meals, of chicken, fish and vegetables, and fruit.
“I would still have the occasional treat but just a couple of squares of chocolate instead of a huge bar. I also went to a gym and took my dog for long walks several times a day.
“Slowly, the weight started to drop off. But this time I was doing it by myself.”
Realising her problems were shared by many others, Kathryn set up Reshape Your Life, helping others lose weight by addressing emotional reasons why they overeat through hypnotherapy. She has now recruited 12 volunteers to follow the 90-day programme.
Now a slim size 14 and 12st, Kathryn still wants to drop a stone. “I’ve learnt to control my addiction, I want to help others. I know how awful it is to be repulsed by yourself.”
“Looking back, I wish I’d lost weight naturally. I am determined never to binge eat again.”
How Kathryn’s diet has changed
Before gastric surgery:
Breakfast: cereal, then biscuits and cake as soon as she got to work
Lunch: large cheese baguette and crisps
Snack: chocolate, sweets
Dinner: takeaways from the fish and chip shop, Indian, Italian or Chinese
Snack: buttery toast
Breakfast: half a Weetabix with some skimmed milk
Lunch: tbsp of mashed potato and gravy
Dinner: Half a cup of soup
Bingeing After Surgery
Breakfast: a bacon and cheese omelette
Snack: biscuits, cakes and Danish pastries
Lunch: prawn mayo baguettes and crisps
Snack: sweets and chocolate
Dinner: takeaways, fish and chips or pub meals
Snack: wine and some dry roasted peanuts
What she eats now
Breakfast: porridge or a small omelette
Snack: banana or a handful of almonds
Lunch: tuna or smoked salmon or chicken salad
Snack: cottage cheese and some celery
Dinner: Small portions of chicken and vegetables, stir-fry and chopped fruit
By Michelle Rawlins/UK Mirrors