I used to hide wrappers in my knicker drawer!
Kay Driscoll had always had a trim figure until her dad tragically passed away two weeks before her 16th birthday.
Grieving and in shock Kay turned to chocolate for comfort. Her mum had always encouraged her to eat healthily but soon Kay found herself unable to stop scoffing the sweet treats.
Kay says: “Before I knew it I was eating junk food – and especially chocolate – to comfort me every time I got stressed.
“I did feel guilty afterwards, but I still didn’t stop.”
By the time Kay had reached 18 she had ballooned from a size 12 to a size 18.
She says: “I knew at 18 that I was overweight and needed to change my ways if I didn’t want to get any bigger.
“I tried joining a slimming club but never managed to keep the weight off.”
Business improvement manager Kay, 46, from Essex met her now husband, Ken, when she was 20. The couple married two years later.
Like any bride-to-be Kay was nervous about looking her best on her big day and managed to slim down to fit into a slender size 12 wedding dress.
“My mum even had to take the dress in – I was really proud of myself,” Kay remembers.
But as Kay settled into married life she continued to overeat – wolfing down chocolate every day.
By Christmas 2001, Kay started to realise her love of chocolate had become an addiction.
She made sure the house was always stocked full of sweet treats – Christmas was just another excuse for her to but her favourite snack.
She says: “My weakness was always for chocolate. I loved the way it made me feel every time I put a square into my mouth. As it slowly melted I could feel my problems melting away with it.”
Because Kay enjoyed an active lifestyle playing netball in a local team she kidded herself that she was healthy.
“Even though my knees and ankles hurt for days after a match I convinced myself that I could still do it, that my size wasn’t holding me back.”
Aged 33, Kay decided to give up smoking for health reasons.
It was then that her weight ballooned dramatically, as she ate even more chocolate to satiate her nicotine cravings.
Kay says “I was a 33-year-old chocoholic. I’d always had a sweet tooth but after packing in smoking it went off the scale.
“I was rapidly outgrowing my new pair of size 18 jeans. I told myself that I’d give up chocolate once I’d got used not to smoking – but it was just an excuse.”
Kay carried on scoffing and her weight soared.
Ashamed of her weight gain, Kay became a secret eater, hiding how much she was buying and eating from her husband Ken.
“I used to get BOGOF deals on chocolate at the supermarket, intending to eat one massive bar and give the other to Ken. But both bars never made it home. I’d scoff the lot in the car.
“Every Easter I was forced to shop for eggs for my nieces two or three times because I’d eat them before I could hand them over. I felt powerless to stop myself,” she admits.
“I even began to hide chocolate in my knicker drawers so Ken wouldn’t see it.
“Then I’d sneak upstairs when I needed a chocolate fix and stuff them in.
“I even shoved small chocolates in my pockets and eat them in the kitchen while no one was watching.”
Nine years later Kay was a whopping dress size 28 and, terrified of the scales, she refused to go near them.
Ken always insisted he loved Kay as she was, and she loved her girlie nights out with the netball team, where she’d regularly down 20 drinks to prove that she was fun-loving and didn’t care about her size.
She says: “It was all a front. I would laugh at myself before anybody else got the chance.
“I wanted my friends to think I was the happy, bubbly fat girl – but deep down I was self-conscious about my weight.
“In July 2010 I did a Race for Life with my mum. I thought I’d be fine, but it took me over an hour just to walk the 5km.
“I thought I was going to die and decided enough was enough.”
Kay decided there and then to tackle her issues with food once and for all. And two weeks later she went to a local Slimming World class.
“I didn’t tell a soul I was going, I was too embarrassed.
“As I stood in the queue I asked myself what on earth I was doing there. I was so nervous I was literally shaking and sweating,” she says.
“The friendly woman lead me to the scales and I gasped as the needle hovered over 19st, 7lb.
“I was mortified, but in that moment I knew I had made the right decision to come.”
Kay explains that the class taught her how to eat in moderation. She was allowed her old favourites like pasta and potatoes – and even chocolate – as long as the portions were reasonable.
She says: “I never went hungry and got into the swing of things straight away. I didn’t believe that you could lose weight and still feel full.”
On her first weigh-in Kay had lost an impressive 8lbs. Her success was the motivation she needed to keep going and from then on, the weight began to fall away quickly.
Three months in, Kay had already lost a massive three stone. And when friends and family began to notice, she could no longer keep her diet a secret.
“Friends started to compliment me,” she says.
“My boss even pulled me to one side and said how impressed he was at my achievement. It was so encouraging and spurred me on.”
In her first year, Kay had lost an incredible five stone. And by March this year she had shed a staggering eight stone, bringing her down to her 11 stone 7lbs target weight.
She says: “I really struggled to lose that last half a stone but the day I got to my target weight was one of the best days of my life.
The women from my slimming group let off party poppers and cheered. I was choked up by their support and admiration.”
Shopaholic Kay had always loved clothes, but had struggled to find glamorous outfits to fit her hulking size 28 frame. But once she’d lost the weight she treated herself to a shopping spree.
“I spotted a lovely black and red figure hugging dress, hanging on the rails. I adored it and took a size 14 and a size 12 to try on. I couldn’t believe it when the size 12 skimmed over my new trim figure.
“It’s such a pleasure to be able to buy nice suits for work and dresses for the weekends. I’ve always loved dresses – I’ve bought about 20 since losing the weight!
“Ken loves my new figure and is so proud of what I’ve achieved.”
Kay now runs her own Slimming World group and wants to help other people achieve their weight loss goals.
“I never thought I’d beat my chocolate addiction so easily, but I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. Now, I want to help others do the same – if I can do it, then they can too.”
Breakfast – Nothing
Mid morning snack – Bacon sandwich, Mars Bar, Semi-skimmed latte
Lunch – Roast dinner with chocolate for dessert
Mid afternoon snack – Several chocolate bars
Dinner- Ready meal, or takeaway
Breakfast – No fat bacon, poached egg and baked beans
Mid morning snack – Nothing
Lunch – Chicken stir-fry or jacket potato with beans and cheese
Mid afternoon snack – Fruit or rice cakes
Dinner – Spaghetti bolognese with lean mince and veg plus a glass of wine and a Freddo chocolate
If you’ve been inspired by Kay’s amazing weight loss story and want to see more before and after pictures like hers, have a look at the other stories in our Summer Slim-speration series. We can help you to sell your story to a magazine too, contact us for a chat.