Looking at Sarah Payne today, it’s hard to believe that this confident woman, rocking platinum blonde hair and radiating health and energy, was nearly 18 stone and struggling to walk her daughter to school less than two years ago. ‘When I look back at old photos it’s hard to believe that was me,’ she admits.
Yet, for most of her life, being overweight had been the norm for Sarah. It started with blowing her pocket money on sweets when she went to secondary school, and her weight increased steadily into adulthood, when becoming a pub landlady and serving meals for nine hours a day didn’t help to stop the cycle.
‘The smells wafting around made it pretty hard for me not to think about food all the time I was working, then when I was at home cooking for the family I’d catch myself finishing the kids’ leftovers—a chicken nugget here, a few chips there—yet I’d later forget all about those extra calories.’
Sarah’s asthma got worse as her weight carried on rising, and by 2015 she was struggling to walk her daughter to school.
‘We had to go up a slight hill and every day I’d be dreading it because I’d get so breathless. I was in such a low place. I realised that this was not the person I wanted to be; I needed to be there for my kids and be healthy in mind and body for myself.’
Yet it wasn’t that she hadn’t tried to lose weight before: like the vast majority of the 62 percent of the population who are overweight or obese, she’d been on virtually every diet going, initially losing weight but then putting it all back on again. Her experience isn’t unusual. Most people who lose weight will have regained it all one year down the line.
If any other treatment had such a high failure rate, would we insist it was all the fault of the many millions of participants, or would it be accepted that the ‘solution’ wasn’t actually fit for purpose?
Alcoholism isn’t treated with handing out drinks plans that advocate paying close attention to the number of units in your ‘allowance’, then packing you off to get on with it on your own.
The usual approach is for the addict to lay off the booze completely, with support groups and mentors to help them understand why they became addicted. This allows the addict to learn to manage their triggers without reaching for the bottle in the future. So why is the focus of most weight-loss plans solely on the food, without looking at what is driving such overconsumption in the first place?
Sarah used to think the reason she was so big was that ‘I just ate too much’. So she’d go on a diet and eat less, the diet would finish, she’d revert to her old habits and she’d gain weight again. Sarah had never been given the opportunity to explore why she ‘just ate too much’—and no amount of eating salads and steering clear of the kitchen was ever going to give her that insight.
Her transformation came as a result of taking a different approach—one that combined a very-low-calorie diet (VLCD) for fast weight loss with group-based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and support to help her change her relationship with food—which enabled her to lose eight stone and eight pounds in eight months and maintain her new weight ever since.
While the initial attraction was purely the diet—’At 10 stone overweight, losing a pound or so a week just wasn’t motivating; I needed quick results’—Sarah found it was the CBT that really made the difference.
‘I’d been hesitant about joining a CBT group,’ she admits. ‘It was something completely new to me, as it hadn’t been offered with any other diet plan I’d ever tried, but I could never have got to where I am now without it.
CBT helped me see that I was an emotional eater: if I was happy, I’d reach for food; if I’d had a bad day, I’d find comfort in food. Discovering the reasons behind my overeating meant I could make different choices. It’s changed my mindset for life. In fact, I truly feel it’s saved my life.’
Sarah lost eight stone eight pounds following the LighterLife Total Plan, dropping from a size 24 to a size 10. She has been maintaining her weight for over a year. To find out more about Sarah’s journey, visit http://www.lighterlife.com/sarah-paynes-story/