Smorgasbord Health -#Morbid Obesity – Size Matters – The Sequel – Chapter Two – The Accumulative Factor of Food and Life – 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 other posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/size-matters-the-sequel/

Chapter Two – The Accumulative Factor of food and life.

The majority of the diets that I attempted in my adult life were one-dimensional. By this I mean that the diet generally gave the dieter a list of foods to eat and the ‘right’ amount of calories, regardless of age, sex or level of activity. Little effort was spent in analysing the reasons for the obesity.

Having been repeatedly unsuccessful in my previous attempts at dieting, it was obvious that I needed a new approach, to ensure that this would be the last time I would put my body – and mind – through such intense stress.

So, I decided to approach the weight loss from a completely different perspective and from as many angles as possible. This new concept meant looking at the mental, physical and emotional reasons for the weight gain in the first place: a three-dimensional approach.

Obesity is the symptom, but the root causes are not generally immediately apparent. In fact, there are a number of different factors which play a part.

Picture this.

It is 11.30 p.m. at night. I am pacing the floor of our lounge, car keys clenched in my fist. Since 6 p.m. I have eaten a large dish of spaghetti, three chocolate bars, a tub of ice cream and the re-heated remains of a take-away from the night before. There is nothing left in the refrigerator or cupboards. I am desperate for something more to eat – something sweet.

The garage down the road closes at midnight. If I can just hang on another ten minutes, it will be too late to get there before it shuts. Part of me is fighting to go, throw a coat over my pyjamas and take my last opportunity to get some chocolate before the morning. Another part of me is fighting to stay, to keep away from the very thing that is causing me so much misery – the misery of being this gross person that I felt I had become. How on earth had I come to this point in my life? How on earth was I going to learn to live through this?

Over the last 23 years I have walked thousands of miles, so there has been plenty of time for reflection. When I began keeping a journal, it was to record my personal journey of discovery and enlightenment. Some of the events and feelings that I am sharing with you are very personal, the kind we do not usually reveal to strangers. The reason for this openness is to illustrate that there is usually a lifetime of accumulated baggage that makes up the person we are today. Good times and bad times are recorded and stored and replayed time and again, a bit like a stuck record. In the process, we can get caught up in a ‘poor me’ state of mind, where we blame our past and those who inhabit it, for our present.

Without being too analytical, I have tried to identify some of the factors that may have contributed to my attitude to eating and my attitude to my body. I very soon came to the realisation that I was carrying too many layers, in more ways than one!

I am going to ask you to travel with me for the next few chapters and then complete your own journey. You need to establish where and when you might have unconsciously turned to food as an answer to your problems. Maybe you even developed a physical reason for your weight gain.

When you are looking for answers remember that you have to look inside yourself. You are the only person who knows what has really happened in your life. ‘Know thyself’ is a fundamental idea that has been around since the time of the ancient Greeks, and it important to remember this as you make your journey. Another famous saying is ‘You are what you eat’. Keep these two ideas in mind and they can help you to get to the root of the problem.

When I was working with clients and creating individual strategies that worked for them, I developed a tool that helped them understand food and how it impacts the body in a different way.The fat accumulation table shows the amount of calories consumed in a year of certain foods, the good, the bad and the ugly.

We might think that having two digestive biscuits everyday with our cup of tea is not going to make a difference to our weight, but if you check the figures above you will see that over a year that amounts to16lbs. Just by cutting back to one biscuit a day will halve that number. I love chocolate and when I was in my binge eating days I could consume at least two bars a day. That amounts to 112lbs over the year, considering that I needed to lose 150lbs back in 1995, giving up that little habit made a big difference!

I like using this cumulative approach, because I feel that it really reflects how life works to help us to gain weight a little at a time, so you don’t really see it happening. I wonder if you have noticed our little habit of eating two things at a time? Two pieces of toast for example, as if it is wasteful not to use the empty slot in the toaster. By the time you have added the butter and the other toppings you have just turned a snack into a light meal.

It is not just food that accumulates over time.

Everyday events, concerns, stress and worries also accumulate over time. Much like a snowball rolling down a hillside, we collect ‘layers’ which slow us down until we come to a stop at the bottom, pretty to look at, maybe, but it is impossible to tell what debris has been collected, along with the fresh layers of snow, during the journey.

Of course, not every layer that you add will be harmful. For most of us there is a combination of happy and unhappy events in our lives… unfortunately for some the balance is uneven and they seem to be the recipients of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Whilst there have been moments in my own life when I thought that I would never be able to rise above the challenge, I was very lucky in so many other aspects. It was an interesting and worthwhile process exploring 40 plus years of events and decision making that had resulted in morbid obesity. There is a dark side to life and to us as individuals. A side that we rarely share with others and is usually self-destructive.

Some people live in a world of balance. Others tend to live at the extremes of their abilities and senses. Extremes are important to an addict, and an addict is what I had become. I had developed an addiction to food, particularly to sugars, that was extreme compared to any normal consumption. Later, I will come back, in much more detail to the vital impact of sugars and how they can affect us and the way that we develop our eating habits.

This is a record of my journey back to my past from a mental, physical and emotional point of view.  It is not my intention to bare my soul of all my past traumas, as they are way behind me now. As with many people I do carry scars, but I chose to use my experiences to foster strength not weakness. I had clearly allowed some events to define me, and that was not a successful strategy.

In my role as a nutritional therapist I found myself listening to very similar stories from clients who were not just obese, but dangerously so. The answer did not only lie in creating an eating programme that changed a lifetime of poor nutrition, but in identifying the mental and emotional reasons why food had become so important.

©SallyGeorginaCronin Size Matters 2001 – 2019

Next time some of the events in my childhood that encouraged me to turn to food as a coping mechanism.

You can read the previous post in the series in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/size-matters-the-sequel/

Thank you for reading the post and your feedback and questions are always very welcome. Sally.

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: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/size-matters-the-sequel/

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: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/size-matters-the-sequel/