'Slimming down changed our lives - for the better and the worse'

Published date07 February 2021
Publication titlePeople, The
Emma Sealey, 41, from Redditch, won Cambridge Weight Plan's Meritorious Award in 2012.

"Walking down the catwalk, I beamed with pride. There were 1,300 people in the audience, all cheering my weight loss. I'd slimmed to 8½st - 19st 9lb lighter than I'd been 19 months earlier. In my size 8 dress, I felt like a celebrity. When the crowd gave me a standing ovation, I knew this was life-changing.

Turns out, losing all that weight did change my life - but not in the way I imagined. Since that event in 2012, when I won the 1:1 Diet by Cambridge Weight Plan's Meritorious Award, I've had serious mental health issues. I've had an eating disorder, depression and a drinking problem. I lived like a recluse and felt like a prisoner in my own body. My selfesteem suffered to the point where I selfharmed and even attempted suicide. I don't blame the Cambridge diet for my problems. At first, slimming made me happy. I'd been miserable in my 28st body, the result of comfort eating as a way to deal with childhood trauma. I was scared I wouldn't live to see my 40th birthday.

When a friend mentioned her success with Cambridge, I plucked up the courage to try it. I lost 12lb in the first week. The weight kept falling off and I was thrilled. But what I wasn't expecting was the excess skin. It was everywhere. I exercised like mad but nothing stopped my skin sagging.

My anxiety was awful. I was terrified people would laugh at me. In 2015, I saw my GP and asked about surgery. He could see how much the loose skin was affecting my mental health and referred me. But the NHS turned me down because it was 'cosmetic'. I tried again and was declined a second time.

That's when my depression became severe. I started drinking and bulimia took hold. Every day for two years, I'd binge then make myself sick. I'd weigh myself compulsively. My boyfriend at the time confronted me and I confessed. He begged me to get help but I deluded myself I was OK. The self-harm started then too. 'If no one's going to help me get the skin off, I'll do it myself,' I told my boyfriend, holding a breadknife over my stomach. He stopped me but there were plenty of other times I cut myself.

It came to a head one night when I'd been drinking. Sitting on the windowsill in my bedroom ready to jump, I kept muttering, 'Nobody loves me.' My boyfriend woke up and tried to pull me in but as he grabbed my arm I fell out and fractured my spine in two places.

That was my lowest point and forced me to get help. A psychologist...

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