Smorgasbord Health – Size Matters – The Sequel – Chapter One – Life or Death? by Sally Cronin

This is the updated and fifth edition of Size Matters and will be re-released later in the year. Although it contains much of the original material in relation to my own personal story, the programme has evolved over the last 20 years.

Although I studied nutritional therapy back in the mid-1990s, I have continued my studies and developed new programmes for healthy eating that are tailor made for the individual rather than a one size fits all. I still believe that the key elements of this basic weight loss programme I will share with you in this updated version works. Even when I work with clients who have arthritis or diabetes, I still approach their programmes from the three dimensions that I outline in this book. Our physical approach, our mental attitude and our emotions are all factors in how we overcome disease and obesity, and should all be addressed when looking for the right programme that will work for each individual.

You can read the introduction to the series in this directory:

Chapter One – Life or Death?

Whatever people might say, size does matter. It matters when you can no longer take a bath because you can’t get out of it unaided. It matters when an entire plane load of passengers hear you ask for an extension for your seat belt. It matters when you are in a restaurant and get stuck in your chair, to the point where you are in danger of taking it with you when you leave. It matters when you are too embarrassed to take off your clothes in front of anyone, including yourself.

A snapshot of where the obesity epidemic is now.

According to a number of reports, there are currently 50,000 + super morbidly obese men and women termed as ‘shut ins’. They are so obese they are unable to go out of their homes, are usually bedridden and have multiple health issues. Their obesity does not just result in their own catastrophic circumstances. It also has a life-changing impact on their families who have to adopt the role of carers.

In a recent series on the subject, it was interesting to note that one of the causes of their obesity is the food that most of the well-meaning family carers are feeding them. High fat and sugar processed meals several times a day and without activity there is only one result, increased weight. Interestingly in one of the programmes that I watched, the mother whose two daughters were already morbidly obese underwent a stomach reduction. She lost weight in the following months, but it appeared that she was eating the same foods, only less. There seemed to be little nutritional change or education and her daughters did not lose weight alongside her as they were still consuming the same piles of high calorie foods as before.

To me this is a very serious and clear indication that the obesity epidemic is already with us and like a giant oil tanker at sea, will take a great deal of time to stop and reverse. Too little and too late, the governments are making ineffective efforts to halt the alarming trend. And I do understand that it is difficult to know where to start with education of parents and children. This is just one aspect that needs immediate action, since the industrial food manufacturers have a hold on us with their addictive chemical concoctions that are listed in smaller and smaller print on the labels .

My successful attempts to put on weight.

I have always been very successful at is putting on weight. I love food: the taste, the texture and the satisfied feeling at the end of a wonderful meal. My problem has been that I have always enjoyed most things to excess. At certain times in my life I have drunk too much alcohol, smoked too many cigarettes, and by the age of forty-three had eaten myself into a size 30 pair of jeans at a weight of 330 lbs. (150 kg).

The trouble was that being large seemed to fit my personality. At six foot tall, at my top weight, I was almost as big around. People used to say that I could carry the weight and still look smart. I spent a great deal of money on clothes, always looking for that outfit that would make me feel better about my appearance. I mostly wore black or navy-blue, but occasionally I would defiantly buy something white or bright and cheerful for the summer.

To the outside world I appeared to be fat, happy and super-efficient at work. Nobody knew about the tears when I saw myself naked in the mirror, nobody saw me starving myself all day and then raiding the refrigerator late at night, stuffing myself in an eating frenzy. I was someone who cracked jokes at my own expense to make people laugh. They would have been horrified to see the real me, so I kept it hidden.

As far as other people knew, my diet consisted of cereal for breakfast, a salad sandwich for lunch, and chicken and vegetables at night. That was actually true. What was equally true was that I consumed vast quantities of food in secret. On the way to work there would be a stop at the drive-through for two breakfast rolls. There would be at least five chocolate bars throughout the day, fried ham-and-cheese sandwiches, a tub of rich ice cream and a takeaway most week-nights. I was in control of many parts of my life, such as my job and my relationships, but I was out of control with regard to my own body and my eating habits.

Then the nosebleeds started. Sitting in a meeting or watching television, I would suddenly feel the blood seeping from my nose. I had enough common sense to know that I was in serious trouble and, although I tried to ignore the signs that my body was failing, deep inside I knew things could not go on much longer.

The crunch came when I went home to Portsmouth for my parents’ fifty-fifth wedding anniversary. My father, who was nearly eighty and suffering from both cancer and a blood disorder, looked healthier than I did. I sat bolt upright in the only chair in the room, since getting onto and then off a sofa was beyond me at this point. I was wearing an expensive new outfit, which, on reflection, resembled a brightly coloured circus tent covering me from head to toe. My mother and father had prepared a beautiful buffet lunch. I visited the table two or three times and was aware of a number of pairs of eyes watching the amount of food I put onto my plate. I am sure that my mother was more than a little concerned about her elegant little chair, which creaked every time I sat down.

Later that day, as I drove along the motorway on my return to London where we were living at the time, I suddenly began to cry. Luckily there was a service station nearby and, pulling into an isolated part of the car park, I cried my eyes out. I honestly believed that my life was over. I blamed everything and everyone, hating myself and, for the first time in my life, contemplating suicide. At that point, I was not even considering how much pain I would cause my husband, who has loved and supported me always, or my family. I did not value my lovely home or have any belief in a compelling future. All I could see was a fat, middle-aged woman with a bloated face and an awful sense of failure.

Eventually I got back on the road again but when I got home that evening it was to any empty house as my husband was away in America on business. Most of the night I spent wallowing in self-pity, grieving for what I felt was missing in my life. Thankfully, I did nothing to hurt myself further. I say ‘further’ because I already had several years of self-destructive overeating behind me. And that is the point. I was responsible for what I put in my mouth. At this point I laid the blame squarely at my own door and it was only later on my search for answers did I discover that other factors should also shoulder some of the burden.

That day was one of the lowest points in my life. I was a forty-two year-old, morbidly obese woman with a very limited future unless I could dig myself out of this massive hole I had dug myself.

Today I am sixty-six and whilst not quite as slim as I was when I had lost all my excess weight, I am still healthy enough not to need medication for any of the usual middle-aged or obesity related health conditions. For the last twenty-four years I have continued to study and research obesity and work with others to help them unlock the doors that held me prisoner for most of my adult life.

Working with others has also kept me focused in a way that I might not have been otherwise.
However I am not perfect, and there have been times in the last 15 years particularly when stress nearly brought me back to the brink again. Thankfully I now have the mental and emotional tools to be able to pull back from going over the edge, but the process is ongoing.

As others who have lost very large amounts of weight have found, it is easy to slip back into bad habits, and it takes willpower and determination to keep the pounds off. It does not help that effort, when the foods that some of us crave with high fat and sugar content, are everywhere and available night and day if we need them.

At 330lbs, my dietary history was littered with fad and starvation diets that resulted in rebounding weight every time. When I reached rock bottom and felt completely powerless, I knew that if I went on another crash diet, I would just end up putting on more weight than ever. I needed to learn why this was so. I had to learn, and learn fast, what it was that compelled me to eat and eat, when I had so much else of value in my life.

There was something fundamentally wrong with the way I had approached my weight problem. I wasn’t sure if it was physical, mental or emotional, but I had to find out and fix it.

I had a very powerful incentive. I had to save my life.

©SallyGeorginaCronin Size Matters 2001 – 2019

Next time – Chapter Two – A Good Place to Start.

You can read the introduction to the series in this directory:

47 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Health – Size Matters – The Sequel – Chapter One – Life or Death? by Sally Cronin

  1. Sal, I love the way you share your story, so real and relatable. I think so many of us have gone through those self hatred moments no matter how large or small amount of weight we feel uncomfortable with. ❤ xx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Reblogged this on Campbells World and commented:
    If you have ever or if you’re now struggling with your weight, you must read this post.
    If you know someone who is struggling with their weight you must share this post.
    I, am quite like Sally in this post and I admire her courage for writing about this here.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I found this very interesting reading, Sally. I think that eating disorders like yours are on the OCD/chronic anxiety spectrum [I know anorexia and bulimia are, but obesity was not mentioned in the documentation I read]. I know from the research I have done and my experiences with my own son that there is not real rhyme or reason to these behaviours. I also know that people don’t understand that, even the person suffering from the illness. It would have taken immense psychological effort on your part to overcome your illness so successful and for this I greatly admire you. I hope that my son will some day find the inner strength and determination that you have.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Robbie.. I agree about there being a link to a number of factors including OCD. As we go through the book, I identified certain life events that reinforced the behaviour and part of it is being in control. You are in charge of what you put in your mouth and when you are stressed it seems to be the one thing you do have control over. When I was writing this originally it was my journal and I wanted to be very honest with myself. I was surprised how many different factors were involved. With fear probably being the main driver. hugsxx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sally, you are very brave to share your story. I think it all comes down to that well known poison, sugar. More sugar in the diet equals increased sugar receptors in the brain making us crave more sugar. Killing these receptors takes about a month, and it’s down to your will-power that you managed to do this. x

    Liked by 3 people

    • I agree Stevie even 20 years ago I knew that it was my downfall. I look back at what I wrote then and the factors involved and it was sugar and industrially produced foods that were only just beginning to take over the aisles in the supermarkets. I think having lived for two years in America and seen the effect there with already rising obesity figures, that it had crossed the Atlantic. We had gone through rationing of sugar until well after the war and were ten years behind the curve. Anyway thank you and I hope that it makes a difference to those who are struggling with weight issues. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for sharing your biggest problem with everyone, Sally. It must give heart to people who can identify with it. I’m only five feet tall now (shrunk!) and a little overweight, but I have never really had to diet (thankfully). Now I’m a lot older, I literally can’t eat large quantities of anything, which is fortunate, but I still love food and have a sweet tooth. Like many others, I do wish the Government would step in regarding the amount of sugar which companies still insist on putting in their foodstuffs. It is totally unnecessary. . Hugs xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Joy.. At least I have never gone back to that original weight…..the lessons at the time sank in. You are right the government is making half ass efforts but the sugar lobby is very strong and the tax they pay speaks volumes. A bit like smoking and the invested interest in the tax on tobacco.. Let’s hope sense prevails when they weigh up the cost of healthcare in the future.. xxxx


  6. I’ve always admired you, Sally, and even more so now for your bravery and honesty. I hope your story reaches many others who desperately need help in understanding the causes of their eating problems. My husband says he’s getting back control after the Christmas blip but if he was being really honest he’d see the blip was our holiday in October. We ate out a lot but we also walked a lot – up hills – and since coming home he hasn’t had the same exercise and has carried on indulging in secret. He eats healthy, tasty, filling meals with me at home and doesn’t seem to realise it is obvious he is eating cakes and pies away from home. Even if he won’t read your posts, I will in the hopes of finding clues which might help.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Mary.. and I saw your second comment too which is good news. I have worked with quite a few male weight loss clients and had the pleasure of reading their two week food diaries. Most were immaculate and reflected the regime their wives already had them on. But it was clear by the fact that they were carrying two to three stone more that there was quite a bit of in between meal indulgence. Out of sight out of mind. One of the strategies was to have their wives in for a session too since they were doing all the cooking usually. We would come up with a selection of snacks that were healthy such as small packets of nuts that were easily put in pockets, or a peeled hard boiled egg and a twist of salt. Sounds like a few more weekend hikes when the weather is better… hugs xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Read it with a great interest, Sally! Very inspiring, and – as other commenters said – the snacks are a very good idea to prevent accidential hunger. In the past i used the military service, my own “boot camp” loosing weight. 😉 Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is one reason why I hate my pics. I hit 254 in 2011 and then the last two years went down to 208. I’m holding that right now but my drs. want me to lose more because of my health. A lot of the thoughts and feelings you’ve gone through, I have too. On my dad’s side, we all get big bellies. That’s where our weight concentrates. I have had former classmates think I’m pregnant. My thyroid is one of the problems I have with losing any current weight. Sometimes I lose some and then go back up but it hasn’t gone past the 208 in the last two.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is very hard Traci and yo have done very well to have lost the weight that you have. Perhaps if you don’t already do so you could keep a detailed food diary for two weeks. I still do at regular intervals as it sometimes identifies small areas where you can make a difference. For me it was eating within an 8 hour window leaving at least 14 hours of not eating. This stabalised my blood sugar and helped with my belly fat. It is not for everyone and if you are on thyroid medication then you would need to consult your doctor. Don’t give up as I am sure that there is an answer that works for you…hugsxx

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – Good intentions by Grandmas, Bird Watching and Halley’s Comet | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  10. Your book is more needed than ever, Sally. I was large as a child, and I’ve always been very good at putting on weight, and yes, I am aware I’ll always need to keep an eye on it. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This story touched me deeply, Sally. I saw some similar patterns that I’ve allowed myself to fall into. I am not obsese, but I am overweight by 10 to 12 pounds. And, like you described, I can go through the day eating very little, then binge at night. I MUST STOP that! And perhaps by you sharing your story, it will inspire me to get a grip before it gets more out of hand. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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