Always available and always reliable, come crisis, commiseration or celebration. What more could a girl need from a best friend? Coupled with the fact chocolate was delicious, sweet and creamy, you can see why I thought I couldn’t live without it. I was a chocoholic, addicted to the sweet stuff. I was 146kg, insecure and unhappy. I hid in baggy jumpers in a UK size 24, finding comfort in the only thing I knew could make me feel better – the one thing that also made me feel worse. Chocolate.
At work in my job as a business analyst, I kept a drawer full of double chocolate chip cookies to munch through all day long. I had a binge mindset. If I ate one biscuit, one doughnut, one cookie, I had to eat the whole packet. Then I’d declare the day ruined and spend the rest of the day eating more stodge, promising myself I’d try again tomorrow.
I was only 98kg when I met Will eight years ago. We met online and chatted for ages before meeting face to face. Within two months of meeting, he moved nearly 500km across the country to be with me.
Content in our relationship, I grew lazy. We went to the cinema, where we balanced snacks on our laps. We went out for dinner or stayed in and had a takeaway. Will’s way of showing affection was to come home with a chocolate bar for me.
I gradually gained weight and by the time I was 120kg, I hated the way I looked.
Will proposed and I swore I’d lose weight for the wedding. I bought a dress in a UK size 24 but planned to lose weight and have it taken in.
Instead, I gained more weight. The stress of planning the wedding meant we ate pizza that we could just throw in the oven so we could get back to wedding admin. I just about fitted in my dress on the day, but my weight had gone up to 140kg.
Will and I married on September 22, 2012. It was a beautiful day. I had my hair and make-up done professionally and I felt good. But after our honeymoon, I went back to feeling unhappy about how I looked and was more insecure than ever.
Trying to get pregnant helped. I lost 6kg because I thought it would help us conceive. When I fell pregnant with Kaitlyn, now two, I went swimming and kept chocolate to a treat rather than a daily necessity. But after Kaitlyn was born, it was back to old habits. I ate all the wrong things. Toast laden with peanut butter for breakfast, pasta laden with cheese for lunch, a whole pack of doughnuts for an afternoon snack. Will and I would share a pizza for dinner, but he had no idea what I’d had to eat during the day – the doughnuts, biscuits and chocolate were my secret.
I tried fad diets. I failed. When I said I was dieting, no one believed me. So come Christmas 2014, almost all my presents were chocolate related.
It was a tradition in my family to buy each other chocolate, it was how we showed love. I got two large boxes of decadent Thorntons, each three layers deep. Five boxes of chocolate balls, the kind that melt in your mouth. Six Maltesers bags. Countless other delights.
I didn’t share them or give them away. It seemed to be my mission to consume every last morsel of chocolate I’d been given. I piled on an extra 6kg and even my huge baggy jumpers were beginning to feel tight.
I’d reached peak-chocolate. I was so disgusted with myself, I realised it was time to change my life for good.
In January 2015 I made a New Year’s resolution. No more chocolate. No more binging. No more kidding myself. I joined a kettlebells boot camp, cut out all sugary foods and joined weight-loss organisation Slimming World. Day by day, my life grew better and better. I attended boot camp three times a week. Pasta, bread and my nemesis, chocolate, were off limits. I stocked up on fruit, veggies, lean meat and nuts.
Boot camp made me accountable – this wasn’t a secret diet, this was me, out in the open. The slimming club helped me admit I needed help. The weigh-ins gave me motivation.
‘Will, I have a confession,’ I said one night. ‘I have been known to eat entire packets of doughnuts in my car, on my own.’
I felt like I needed to tell him. If it wasn’t a secret anymore, I could move away from it. And Will was shocked, but helped me realise I was capable of so much more. ‘That’s not who you want to be,’ he said. ‘We can do this together.’ He was so supportive and respected my request for no more chocolate treats.
It wasn’t easy. I missed out on time with Will and Kaitlyn due to boot camp and weigh-ins, but I needed to do it. Seven weeks in I’d lost 13kg and was inspired to carry on. After 15 weeks, I’d lost nearly 30kg.
My attitude to food completely changed. A takeaway became a rare treat – and when I did have one, I made a healthy choice. A chicken skewer and salad instead of a doner kebab, for example. If I had chocolate, I opted for one of those skinny chocolate sticks. I had taught myself when to stop.
I now weigh 88kg and wear a size 14. My target is 76kg. I have fruit and yogurt for breakfast, home-made soup or quiche for lunch, yogurt and home-made chicken curry with veggies for dinner. Will eats the same, so we’re both a lot healthier now.
For Christmas I did not get given any chocolate. I asked Will to buy me gym gear instead. These days, instead of chocolate, Will comes home with a surprise fruit hamper. We both had to learn that chocolate didn’t say ‘I love you’ – now, fruit says ‘I love you so much more and I want you to be healthy and happy!’
I started running and took part in two 5k races for charity. Now, nearly two years since I made my resolution, I know I’ve changed for good. I go to the gym on my lunch break at work four times a week, doing kettlebells and running. I also use a FitBit step counter and if I haven’t met my step goal by the end of the day Kaitlyn and I dance around the living room. She loves it because we’re being silly. I love it because I get to be the active, healthy mum I always dreamed I’d be.
Liz lives in Brighton, Sussex, with her husband Will, 33 and daughter Kaitlyn, two.