By Kelly Strange
‘That,’ I said breathlessly as I slid into bed beside my hubby Chris, ‘was amazing! I literally had goosebumps.’
As he grunted sleepily beside me I continued to tell him in minute detail all about my night.
‘So you had a good time then?’ he yawned eventually before rolling back to sleep.
‘Yes,’ I rambled on. ‘Clare and I are already saving up to see him again!’
Chris mumbled something in his sleep. He was used to it. My obsession with Matt Goss went way back. As long as we’d known each other Matt had been the ‘other man’ in our relationship.
Back in the day I’d been a Brosette, clanking around the house in faded, ripped jeans with Grolsch bottle tops on my shoes. I’d even got the coach down to his Mum’s house and camped outside hoping for a glimpse of Luke or, my favourite, Matt. Craig? He didn’t even get a look in.
Like a million other teenage girls, I’d shed painful tears when they’d split up back in 1991. But then, around
the same time, I’d met Chris and my teenage crush had grown into something real.
But even though Chris and I settled down and got married I always held a candle for my first ‘love’.
‘Going off to see your other man?’ Chris would quip when Matt launched his solo career and started touring on his own a few years later.
‘That’s right, going for a night of passion with my bit on the side!’ I’d joke back. I wish!
I’d been to see Matt more than 10 times over the last decade and was the first to admit that his fit body and gorgeous voice made me weak at the knees.
My friend Clare, who was almost as big a fan as I was, and I had even gone on a joint trip to Vegas for our 40th birthdays in 2012 to see him perform. He didn’t disappoint. I was breathless with excitement when we met him after the show.
I’d even made a special trip to London and queued up in the rain to catch a glimpse of him when he was over filming Loose Women.
Did Chris get irritated by my lifelong obsession? Maybe. ‘Why don’t you come with me?’ I offered every time I paid out for yet another concert ticket. But he never would.
Not that I was surprised. Truth was, the two men in my life couldn’t have been more different. Far from strutting across a stage in tight jeans, cerebral palsy meant that Chris, 43, was confined to a wheelchair and at almost 30 stone he was so obese he couldn’t even put his own socks on.
He’d always been a big bloke. When we’d got married in September 1998 he’d hovered around 20 stone. But after I’d had our two girls, Grace, now 11, and Nesta, nine, it had been him that had piled on the weight, not me.
Convinced he would never be able to lose weight ‘stuck in a wheelhair’, he gorged on his favourite Chinese takeaways as if trying to prove a point. An events manager, he also spent a lot of time out on the road, fueling his days with greasy, shop-bought pasties or drive-thrus from McDonald’s. Soon, he’d hit 28 stone, dwarfing me and the girls and becoming known as ‘the big bloke in the chair’.
One afternoon, in April 2014, Chris was working at home in his office when I heard a massive crash.
‘What happened?’ I asked, racing into the room. ‘Oh my God! Are you OK?’
Chris was lying on his back on the floor.
‘I sneezed so hard that I managed to tip backwards out of my wheelchair.’ He explained. ‘Can you help me up, please?’
Only, it wasn’t that simple. Chris was so heavy I couldn’t even budge him, let alone lift him up. What on earth was I going to do? Hearing the clatter of dustbins outside, I suddenly had an idea. I told Chris I was going to ask the bin men to help me.
‘No please don’t,’ he begged, embarrassed at the thought. But what choice did we have?’
In the end it took four of them to lift a red-faced Chris back into his chair.
‘You’ll be alright now, mate,’ one of them said, patting him on the back.
‘How humiliating,’ Chris said after I’d thanked them and seen them out.
But I couldn’t stop worrying. What if it happened again when I wasn’t at home? Or when Chris was out in the street?
The only way things were going to change was for Chris to lose weight – for good. But he’d already tried every diet under the sun and they all had the same result; yes, Chris lost weight but he’d put it all back on, and then some.
His doctor had advised gastric surgery but at his size, there were increased risks. Chris was terrified he might die during the operation. I reconciled myself to the fact that he’d always be big.
Only then, the following January, Chris came back from a work do, buzzing. His colleague’s husband had lost several stones on The Cambridge Diet, which involved swapping meals for shakes, bars and soups.
‘He was a big bloke like me last year,’ said Chris. ‘Now, he’s half the size!’
‘Give it a go, then,’ I suggested.
‘I think I will,’ he said.
It was a big, big change. Previously Chris’s diet revolved around junk food and he’d think nothing of eating a pack of bacon and half a loaf of bread for breakfast, a McDonald’s at lunch and a then a huge takeaway for dinner.
Now though, he started having porridge at breakfast, a Cambridge soup, shake or smoothie on the road for lunch, and for dinner, he’d cook a meal from the Cambridge recipe book – such as vegetable chilli or chicken in tarragon sauce.
Honestly? I never expected him to stick to it. But after a month, he’d lost a stone.
‘That’s great!’ I enthused. ‘Keep going!’
And this time, he did. He wanted to be healthy and feel attractive and more than anything, he wanted to be there for the girls. After six months, he was six stone down and a year on he’d lost a staggering 12st – almost half his body weight – tipping the scales at a trim 13st 6lb.
His new body gave Chris a new lease of life, too. Not only did he look and feel amazing but his proudest moment came when he was able to carry Nesta out of the car and put her to bed. It was the first time he’d been able to do this and as he held her in his arms I could see that it meant the world to him.
Chris’ transformation had caught the eye of others, too. He’d been nominated for The Family Spirit award for those whose weight loss has been inspired by, or has improved the lives of, their families.
‘That’s great!’ I told him. ‘I’m so proud of you.’
A few weeks later, I came home from work to find him beaming ear-to ear. ‘Guess what?’ He said. ‘I won!’
But the best part was still to come. His prize was a trip to Las Vegas… to see Matt Goss perform.
‘No way!’ I whooped. Not only did I have a gorgeous, slim and healthy husband but now he was taking me to see my idol perform in Las Vegas, too. I felt like I’d won the lottery.
We flew out to the States this February. And a few days later, we were stood in the Gossy Room at Caesar’s Palace.
‘Looking forward to it? ‘I asked as we waited to meet my idol.
‘Actually, you know what?’ Chris said. ‘I am.’
His new found confidence meant he didn’t even flinch as I swooned over Matt Goss in front of his eyes. Well why would he? As I told him all long, I adored him.
His buoyed self-esteem meant he didn’t even feel envious when I shared a lovely cuddle with my ‘other man.’ Him and Matt even had a chat and Chris said he would come and see him again with me when he was performing at Wembley in a few months’ time.
‘Thank you,’ I said to Chris as we went back to our hotel afterwards.
‘What for?’ he asked.
‘For this,’ I told him. ‘It would never have happened if it wasn’t for you.’
‘Don’t be silly,’ he said.
But it was true. I have always loved Chris but in the past I admit there were tmes when I felt like his carer. Not any more! He looks absolutely gorgeous and his confidence is through the roof.
Things couldn’t be better. Chris would never have come to watch Matt with me when he was big because he wouldn’t have had the confidence – now I joke that he’s best mates with my ‘other man’. How many women can say that?!
Says Chris: ‘I used to feel insecure about Lorraine’s obsession with Matt, now it doesn’t bother me at all because we are so happy together.
‘Being picked up by the bin men that day was the most humiliating moment of my life. I was grateful for their help. But even more grateful that it gave me the push I needed to stop hiding behind my wheelchair and lose weight.
‘A year ago, I was unable to put on my own shoes or dress independently. ‘I used to blame my disability for all the things I couldn’t do. Now I know that many of them were in fact due to my weight. It’s a myth that being disabled means you can’t lose weight and seeing how much it has improved my life, I would love to help inspire others.’
MR EDWARDS’ DIET: BEFORE AND AFTER
Breakfast: Packet of bacon and half a loaf of bread
Lunch: McDonald’s meal
Dinner: Three course dinner
Lunch: Cambridge meal plan smoothie, shake or soup
Dinner: Meal cooked from scratch from Cambridge recipe book such as vegetable chilli or chicken in tarragon sauce