Helen Redhead, 30, had always been the ‘fat girl’, until she lost 5st.
‘I was eight when I had my ﬁ rst period, Before, for example, if girls from work were and almost overnight I went from going out, I wouldn’t be invited, because I’d being an active tomboy to being cramp their style. But now I’m invited to excluded, because of the way I looked. everything, because my look ‘ﬁ ts’. The funny It might sound extreme to say my life thing is, I don’t want to go any more; I no longer changed forever then, but looking back, my have that overwhelming desire to be accepted. problems with my body image and with food Thankfully, the people who know me well It changed not only her life – but other people’s attitude towards her seem to have started when I hit puberty. Helen with ﬁ ancé Dan, – Dan, my family and close friends – have Words Catherine Jarvie Photographs Andrew Montgomery The teachers at my primary school wouldn’t before her surgery never judged me by how I look, and nothing let me go swimming, for example, because has changed in my relationships with them. I was overdeveloped compared to the other a problem, solve it – and his reply was always What’s also been hard to get my head girls (I was wearing a size 36D bra by the the same: ‘Wel , what are you going to do about around is how I view the weight loss for time I was 10), and would always put me to it?’ One day, it ﬁ nal y sunk in and I decided to do myself. My whole life used to be centred one side and try to stop me playing with boys. something to stop my size ruining my future. on food. I blamed it for everything that was I was ostracised and felt very, very different. Over the years, I’d tried every diet going; wrong. Now, if I have a bad day, it’s because When I moved to senior school, the I’d even tried diet pills. That was a disaster. I’m having a bad day; it’s not because I’m bullying started, because my height and big My hair started falling out and I began overweight. I’ll go for a walk, or try to talk boobs made me stand out. I started to eat as having panic attacks. myself out of it, but I’m rarely tempted to compensation and, as I got bigger, (I put on a I looked into some options on the internet reach for the cookie jar. stone a year from 12 onwards), the fat jibes and contacted Dr Ashton at the Healthier Weight Now, I don’t eat bread, because it swells started. I had no friends at all, until I was 15. and I don’t crave big meals, as I simply don’t By university, I was 5ft 8in and weighed have room for them in my smaller stomach. ‘I was wearing a about 14st 7lb. If you’re overweight, people I still get a surprise when I catch sight of in restaurants look at you in disgust, as if to myself in a mirror, or window, and see a slim say, ‘You could do without that meal’, so food person looking back at me. Sometimes, when time I was 10’ becomes a guilty pleasure. I would buy cakes – I’m shopping, I automatically reach for a like pavlova and banoffee pie – and eat them Centre, in Birmingham. He recommended that size 18, instead of a 12. But it’s taken me on my own late at night. Food was my comfort, I had a gastric lap band ﬁ tted. It would force me 22 years to learn that behaviour and it’s but it was a catch-22 – the thing I used to to restrict my food intake and, mean that I’d going to take me a long time to forget it. comfort me caused my problem. ﬁ nally be able to lose weight and keep it off. Dan and I are getting married in Mauritius People would say to me, ‘You have such Having the lap band inserted was anything next year. Before the surgery, I wouldn’t have a pretty face’, as if that was compensation for but an easy option. I had to undergo an considered it – the idea of everyone looking at being fat. It was upsetting, but from the time intensive diet beforehand for 10 days, to me would have been too much – but, now, I’m I was a teenager, having a perfectly made-up face prepare my body for surgery. And, for three looking forward to choosing a dress and being became a mask to hide behind. By the time months afterwards, I was restricted to liquids pampered. I won’t be worried about having to I left university, I couldn’t handle how I looked. only – soups, protein shakes – as my body hide behind make-up or anything else.’ At work, as a nurse, I felt undermined adjusted to the band. But it was worth it. I’ve Helen had her surgery at the Healthier Weight because of my size. At my biggest, I weighed lost 5st over 15 months and ﬁ nal y look ‘normal’. Centre, 0800 073 1146; healthierweight.co.uk. 17st, and if patients referred to me it was The biggest change, however, has been You should always consult your GP before never as ‘the blonde one’, but as ‘the fat one’. my attitude to other people and theirs to me. considering any surgery E Weight problems are always considered to be your own fault. I became used to people treating me as if I was lazy and stupid. Funnily enough, I never had trouble THE PILL-FIX
● Gastric banding (as ﬁ nding boyfriends, while I was fat. But I was
● Xenical stops 30 per cent experienced by Helen) is less so grateful that anyone found me attractive, I’d get together with any guy who showed THE KNIFE-FIX me attention. I made a few mistakes that way.
● Gastric bypass Surgery that When I met Dan, my current boyfriend of two and a half years, it was different. We got talking in a pub and he says that within the
● Reductil increases serotonin ﬁ rst half hour of meeting, I’d made some self- deprecating remark about my weight. He just ignored it. We’ve been together ever since, and he’s never judged me about my size. But I would often complain that I was unhappy
and B-12 and lead to deﬁ ciencies. with my body. Dan’s very practical – if you have Red Xxxxxxxxx 2005 Red February2007
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