I lost 8 stone in 18 months but hated my body thanks to saggy skin.
Waddling towards an empty chair in the hospital canteen, I wedged myself into it and began to stuff the hot greasy chips into my mouth.
I hoped none of my patients were watching as I polished them off before starting on a slab of chocolate cake.
You see as a nurse I was used to dishing out helpings of good advice when it came to healthy eating and keeping active, but not so good at following it myself.
At a size 24 and weighing 19stone 13lb I was morbidly obese.
No wonder then that some of my patients looked at me with surprise when I advised them on their health.
Some of them even told me I could do with losing a few pounds myself. But of course I already knew that. Only having been big all my life I knew all too well it wasn’t that easy.
I’d suffered bad asthma as a child and being unable to run around with my friends, combined with my sweet tooth meant I’d piled on weight.
I was the biggest kid at school and already a size 16 weighing 14 stone when I met my husband Marc, a civil servant, when I was 18.
Slim and handsome, I couldn’t believe he was interested in me. And once we’d settled into a relationship together we indulged in even more takeaways and sweets.
But while his active lifestyle meant Marc remained slime, I was growing bigger
By the time Harry was born in 2002 I was 17 stone and when we married in August 20014 I worse a size 20 dress.
In January 2009 I had Ted and three years later Olly was born and I shot up to a size 24.
I covered my body in huge baggy tops and leggings while battling with every diet under the sun. But after a few weeks I’d always lose interest and put any weight I’d lost back on.
Marc loved me as I was, but I couldn’t help feeling resentful of his slim healthy body and active lifestyle.
‘Come with me,’ he’d always ask before arranging a night out. But I refused, too ashamed of my appearance to enjoy socialising.
It was a vicious circle, I was missing out on the things I wanted to do, but treating myself to junk food to soften the blow.
Not to mention that money being tight meant I always opted for the cheapest meals at work – a bowl of chips and a cake was half the price of a ham salad in the work canteen.
Only in September 2012 with my birthday approaching: ‘ ‘Let me take you away to a fancy hotel to celebrate for the night,’ Marc smiled.
‘No,’ I can’t I stammered. I was far to embarrassed about my size to enjoy it so there was no point.
Instead I had an idea. I’d seen an inch loss programme advertised at our local gym and asked Marc to sign me up. ‘A new body would be the best birthday present you could give me,’ I said.
It was a six week programme of three weekly exercise classes and diet advice. Only this time it was different.
‘I feel great,’ I panted to Marc when I got home after another high energy class and within weeks the weight was falling off.
Six weeks on the plan and I had lost a stone. So I carried on dieting and healthy eating.
As the inches vanished I began to feel more confident than ever. For my 32nd birthday the following year I did let Marc book a night away at a posh hotel – after all I was six stone lighter.
‘You look amazing Kelly,’ he said as I slipped on a size 14 dress for dinner. And in my clothes I felt it.
But there was a problem nobody could see. My weight loss was causing my skin to sag and fold.
I hoped that the more weight I lost and the more classes I did that it might improve. But it only seemed to get worse.
In time I was diagnosed with ED and forced to accept no amount of exercise could get rid if the saggy skin.
‘It looks hideous,’ I wept, tucking the folds on my tummy into my knicker band and hoisting the skin around my chest into a giant bra.
But even worst than how it looked was the pain it caused. I was forever rubbing cream into the folds which became sore and chaffed.
‘I looked better fat,’ I sobbed to Marc one night. And in desperation I made an appointment with our GP.
I hoped that as I had lost the weight myself and had a medical condition that made it worse, I might be entitled to help on the NHS.
‘This isn’t about cosmetic surgery, I told my GP, ‘ all this skin is causing me pain.’
My arms were now so saggy that I’d even caught the skin winding out our sun parasol. It had been agony ‘unwinding’ the trapped skin.
Within 18 months I had lost eight stone and the skin was worse than ever. But: ‘ I’m afraid the NHS won’t fund the removal of the skin,’ I was told.
I was gutted. ‘ I’m trapped in a body I detest,’ I sobbed to Marc. He hated seeing me so unhappy after having worked so hard and lost so much weight.
So when I looked into a loan to fund the op myself: ‘ Do it,’ he urged.
In April 2014 I borrowed £4700 for a five hour operation to remove the excess skin from my chest, back and bust.
It meant my F cups were reduced to B cups and the results were amazing. ‘ I can’t believe it,’ I beamed admiring the results in the mirror.
The repayments were tough but we both took on extra shifts to cover them so the kids never went without.
But seeing the improvement to my upper body made my lower body look even worse.
Then skin on my stomach was now so saggy it smacked on the floor if I tried to do a press up plus it was always becoming infected due to the moisture being trapped in there in hot weather.
So In November last year I held a fundraising event to raise money towards a second round of surgery. I posted pictures of my saggy skin online and set up a donation page.
‘I also arranged a race night and asked local business to offer prizes. All the funds would go towards my operation.
The night raised £1500 and I was thrilled. I took out another loan to cover the remainder of the £8600 operation.
The recovery was tough, but the worst part was not being able to exercise while I waited for my scars to heal.
You see now I really do practice what I preach to my patients. I’m confident and happy and have so much energy.
For the first time ever I really am happy in my own skin.
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