I was also developing an unhealthy drinking problem, and there was no point in trying to diet while putting away bottles and bottles of white wine. My dependency on food was intertwined with my dependency on booze. As my drinking got worse, and my physical activity lessened, I continued to gain weight. By the time I was turning 40 in Italy surrounded by family and my dearest friends, I was avoiding the mirror and hated the pictures commemorating that joyous trip. I weighed more than 16 stone.
In April of 2020, at the start of the pandemic, I came to a crossroads. I fell ill, and thought I was dying of Covid-19 (which it later turned out was shingles), and I was terrified. I figured if I came out of the pandemic more addicted to booze, heavier and depressed, I would have wasted the opportunity to reset. I quit drinking cold turkey on 14 April, and six months later, signed up for the diet app, Noom. I figured if I could successfully tackle my addiction to alcohol, I could take on my messy and ugly relationship with food and my body. They say Noom isn’t a diet (it absolutely is) but rather a diet app coupled with cognitive behavioural therapy to get behind why you are eating the way you are eating.
Six very strict months later, I hit my first weight loss goal of dropping five stone. This was an incredibly difficult and focused time period, but because restaurants weren’t open and I wasn’t socialising, I put all of my energy into completely changing my food and exercise routines. Because I live alone, my kitchen was totally free from anything I wasn’t able to eat. I understand that it is a lot easier to do this when you aren’t responsible for feeding anyone else. I was lucky to have a good friend, Kate, who was at about the same size as me and attempting to lose the same amount, so we teamed up for accountability – holding weigh-in days and exchanging a million supportive WhatsApps.
Because of the pandemic, though, I never actually saw anyone in real life during this stage, which meant that every reunion when the world finally opened up again felt like I was jumping out of a Slimming World commercial. I live my life quite publicly, and shared my weight loss journey on Instagram. I also agreed to appear in one of Noom’s success story ads. I was shouting about the commitment and work I had done, posting before and after pictures, and generally feeling really proud of myself. I was as surprised as everyone else about how receptive my body was to my new lifestyle. I had assumed I would need skin surgery, and was thrilled that I didn’t.