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My obesity journey: from comfort eater to plus size model
Gaining weight as a child
It is so hard to talk about my life, because you need to open up a part of yourself, a part that most people would not want to reveal, or be able to.
As a child I struggled a lot. My father was an alcoholic and he physically abused my mother. And when he wasn't beating mum, he was beating me. I was a child that was very lost, struggling. I was also sexually abused.
So I comfort ate. In order to deal with the trauma I would have a bar of chocolate. I would go to my room and even though I was going through those emotions, feelings and pain, I would eat my bar of chocolate and feel a bit of comfort.
I was also gaining weight, and wondering what was actually going on with me. My brothers were slim and athletic, and we all ate the same breakfast, dinner and snacks. The one thing I did differently was to eat chocolate for comfort.
Getting to surgery
Fast-forward to my life as a 28-year-old, 180-kilo mum with a lot of abdominal fat...
In the morning I would wake up and pull a muscle in my side as I turned in the bed. So, I would try to lift my tummy over as I turned. And I'd be thinking: Do I have the underwear that will make me look at least a bit more decent? Or I'd think: The doctors want to measure me and look at the skin folds, and the infections.
In the shower, I had to take the shower door off, because I physically did not fit into the cubicle. Then I'd lift skin fold after skin fold and clean out the infection, both the look of it and the smell.
“I went to my doctor and, thankfully, I did get bariatric surgery. I lost over 90 kilos, which was half my weight. It was the best thing ever, I just thought: Oh my God I have a life now.”
When I lost my weight, I became the first plus size model in Ireland and wrote a book about empowering women to feel good about themselves. Because at the end of the day, no matter what size you are, you deserve to get up in the morning and look in the mirror and feel good about yourself. You deserve to wear clothes that fit you.
My life today
I am now 13 years post-surgery. I still have obesity and have regained 25 kilos. I go to the gym a lot, and I'm healthy in what I eat because the surgery means I can only eat very small portions of food. Most of my diet contains fruit, nuts, vegetables and high protein. I meditate in the mornings, and I do yoga. I am quite healthy.
So I look at it this way: you have beaten yourself up too much, and you have hated yourself and allowed yourself to say things you would not allow others to say. The change needs to start with you loving yourself. You have to start appreciating yourself, no matter what size or weight you are. When you are in a positive mindset, you can begin to make the small changes in life to tackle the disease of obesity, and start feeling so much better.