Looking at Lorna Murray now, it is hard to believe that just over a year ago she was more than six stones heavier.
For over a decade she had been trying to lose weight but nothing seemed to work.
Following a major health scare last year Lorna, with support from health professionals and her family, at last found the determination to make a real difference to her life.
Her wake up call came last March when she was rushed to Frimley Park Hospital with cellulitis, a bacterial infection of the layer of fat under the skin. Lorna’s leg swelled up to twice its normal size and at one point she feared it would have to be amputated.
The thought of having to try to look after her disabled daughter if she herself were unable to walk filled Lorna with dread.
“Anyone can get cellulitis, but if you are overweight you are more prone to it and the complications from a severe case like mine are much more difficult to recover from. I was in hospital for three weeks and it really scared me. I knew then that I really had to do something about my weight because I had to be there for my daughter,” she said.
Lorna, who is 49 and lives in Goldsworth Park, Woking, says it is hard to pinpoint when she became overweight. But following the birth of her daughter Naomi 12 years ago life became difficult. Naomi was born with cerebral palsy and epilepsy and Lorna needed to be her full-time carer.
“I had a lot of emotional stress and found that I was comfort eating as a way of coping. It got to the stage where I was more than 20 stone and nothing I tried in the way of dieting seemed to work for me.”
Lorna joined weight loss clubs and put herself on a variety of fad diets to try to shed the pounds, all with little success. Her health worries increased when she discovered that she was diabetic.
“When you’re that much overweight it can be so hard to find the will to do something about it. For me it was the cellulitis last year that made me realise that I was running out of chances.”
“When you’re significantly overweight like I was it can be so hard to even get started, especially as nothing has worked for me in the past.”
“The difference this time was the extra determination I had, combined with some really amazing support. I spoke to the hospital dieticians and to my GP Dr Mellor. He had been advising me for years to lose weight but this time I really had the incentive. The advice and support I’ve had from the Frimley Park nutritionists has also been a big help.”
“I want to say to those people who fear they will never lose weight that if I can do it, anyone can. I know how difficult it can seem but it can be done if you are really determined.”
“You have to really want it. The important thing is to be disciplined and really stick to your diet. I certainly haven’t starved myself and I
still have occasional treats, but you have to be strict. I’ve lost weight at a steady pace so that, if I’m sensible, it will stay off.”
“I won’t deny that I found it really tough at first and I had real cravings – I suppose it’s a bit like someone coming off drugs. But now I enjoy my food so much and I’m eating really healthily.”
Lorna stressed that weight loss clubs and certain diets do work for many people. She said: “It’s a case of finding what’s right for you. It’s not that they don’t do a great job, but they just weren’t working for me.”
Lorna added that she has been helped by fantastic support from her husband Joe and her Christian faith.
“I exercise too, which seems to help a lot. I do a lot of swimming – I love my swimming and I find I can enjoy it more now that I am not so big. I can do about 40 lengths in an hour,” she said.
On most days Lorna will have a small breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and something like chili con carne, a fish or chicken dish or occasionally a low-fat ready meal for her dinner. She snacks on fruit instead of chocolate or crisps.
“I allow myself a treat at weekends and we eat out about once a month. I really look forward to those treats and I’m finding that although I’m eating fewer calories I’m actually enjoying and appreciating my food much, much more.”
“The surgery, dieticians and everybody have done an amazing job with me and I’m really grateful.”
Lorna says she want to lose a bit more weight before adjusting her diet slightly. Her ambition is to get her body mass index into the 19-26 range and to keep the weight off.
“I know how difficult and heartbreaking it can be for someone who is overweight and trying desperately hard to do something about it. I just want to say them that it can be done. You have to be patient and strong and it will definitely be worth it in the end.”
“I just feel so much happier, healthier and more alive.”