I lost 12 stone after my sausage roll shame but would I be happier as a size 10? By Nicola Johnson, 47

As I watched my two boys, Corrie, 10, and Codie, eight, kick the football around the garden, I wiped the crumbs of my Greggs sausage roll from my mouth and washed it down with a can of Coca-Cola. 

They were such an energetic pair, always tearing about the place, but at 23st 7lbs, I had no chance of keeping up with them.

‘Come on Mum!’ they cried from the garden. ‘Join in!’

I drained the last of my can of coke and sunk back into the sofa. ‘No, I’m better off watching you from here,’ I yelled back as I watched their little faces fall.

I felt terrible. I desperately wanted to be a more active mum but at a whopping size 26, I just didn’t have the energy.

I’d always loved my food and had even worked as a chef, but it had been my downfall. The weight crept on until by the time the boys came along, I was gorging on a McDonalds breakfast each day and picking up my favourite Greggs chicken and mushroom bake for lunch.

‘Mum, can we go to the park and play football?’ Codie asked one day.

‘How about you play in the garden today, I’m not feeling too good,’ I answered, ashamed.

I was just too tired and I knew I wouldn’t make it to the park. But it broke my heart when I watched Codie hang his head as he skulked back to the garden.

I hated being a bystander in the boys’ lives so I hauled myself up off the sofa and waddled to the kitchen to grab them a drink.

‘Here you go boys, here’s a treat for being the best sons in the world,’ I grinned as I handed them each a can of coke.

I lived on the stuff but it was a rare treat for Codie and Corrie. My own diet may have been a disaster but I always tried to keep the kids as healthy as possible.

‘We love you, Mum,’ they beamed, giving me a huge hug,

A couple of days later, I was waddling down the high-street when I clocked Greggs ahead of me. I’ll nip in and pick up a pastry, I thought to myself as I made a beeline for the bakery.

As I got closer to the store, a young mum and her daughter approached me. The little girl would have been a bit younger than Codie and as we got closer, I heard her turn to her mum.

‘Mummy, I want a sausage roll,’ she said sweetly. I immediately thought about devouring one myself but just as I was about to walk through the doors of Greggs, I spotted the mother pointing at me.

‘No, you’re not having one. Because if you do, you’ll grow up to look like that,’ she scolded, looking in my direction in disgust.

I froze to the spot. Mortified, I wanted the ground to swallow me up and I didn’t know what to do. I’d never been so publicly humiliated before.

I hovered at the doorway for a moment as I watched the mum march her daughter off. Part of me wanted to storm into Greggs and order everything on the shelves, another part of me never wanted to see a sausage roll again.

I’d always eaten my feelings but in that moment, I knew I needed to make a change. With tears pricking my eyes, I left Greggs and scuttled back home.

‘I want to make an appointment with my GP, as soon as possible please,’ I said, picking up the phone the minute I got through the door.

‘Can I ask what this is regarding?’ the receptionist asked gently.

‘I need to lose weight,’ I said firmly, before I lost my resolve.

An all-or-nothing type of girl, I’d already researched gastric surgery online and wanted to know if my doctor could help me.

‘What are my options?’ I asked at the appointment a few days later.

‘You’re eligible for a gastric bypass on the NHS but there will be a waiting list,’ he replied.

‘How long?’ I pressed.

‘About a year,’ he informed me.

‘I’ll wait,’ I said confidently.

I left the doctor’s surgery that day feeling proud and accomplished. I was finally taking charge and doing something positive - not just for me, but for the kids too.

Ten months later, in August 2013, I went under the knife for the op.

‘Things will be different soon, I promise!’ I smiled to Corrie and Codie as I was wheeled down to theatre.

Within weeks, the weight began to fall away and I was seriously missing food. I survived on liquids for the first three months and only managed pureed meals after that.

I wasn’t expecting it to be easy but I wasn’t mentally prepared for how tough it would be to give up eating.

Within a year, I’d dropped six dress sizes and just over eight stone. I should have been over the moon but instead, I was miserable.

I spent most of that year with my head down the toilet, unable to digest any food. I could barely keep a grape down.

‘Mum, it’s going to get better,’ Corrie tried to soothe me.

‘It should be me comforting you, love,’ I sobbed as I made another dash for the bathroom.

Eventually, my teeth rotted away from all the vomiting and despite more help from the NHS, I had to fork out £250 for a set of dentures.

Meanwhile, the weight kept falling off me until now, five years after the operation, I’m a slinky 11st 6lbs and a perfect size 10.

I look better than ever but the truth is, I’ve never felt worse. I survive on coffee and supplements and am constantly tired and achey.

I thought I was sluggish before the op but now, I have so little energy I can barely get out of bed.

I had the operation so I could play a more active role in the boys’ live but I’m still watching them play from the sidelines on the sofa.

‘At least we can get our arms around you when we hug you now!’ they tell me in a bid to cheer me up. But it doesn’t change the fact I can’t run around with them.

I know I should be proud of my super-slimming achievement and love my size 10 figure but the truth is, I was happier fat.

Nicola wanted to raise awareness of the realities of gastric surgery when she approached our team to sell her story. Together, we placed Nicola's story in a women's magazine, reaching a wide and relevant audience. If you want to raise awareness of a particular issue or campaign, a real-life feature can be a good way to do it. Contact us now to find out how it works.


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