Monday, March 21, 2011

Lauren Brudenell, From Fat Girl Became More Like Starvation | 9 Feb 2011 | As a schoolgirl, Lauren Brudenell had always been bigger than her friends. At her heaviest she weighed 16st 7lbs and for years she cried herself to sleep after taunts from kids in her class.

When photos from her school prom appeared to squeals of delight from the other girls, Lauren just wanted to hide.

So at 16 she did something most girls have done at some stage in their lives – she went on a diet.

But unlike most girls, Lauren became so dangerously obsessed with losing weight that she could have lost her life.

In less than two years she shed a staggering 10 and a half stone and was hospitalised after plummeting to the size of a 10-year-old.

“I hated being so much bigger than all my friends, so I came up with a solution and started dieting,” says Lauren, who lives in Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, with parents Tracy, 45, a theatre nurse, James, 47, a teaching assistant, and sister Ellie, 16.

“But I ended up losing more than 10 stone after it became more like starvation.

“It went too far, but I couldn’t stop it.”

Lauren decided to start slimming after her school prom in July 2008.

At 5ft 7in tall, she weighed 16st 7lbs and was a dress size 18. She felt huge compared to her slimmer friends.

“I had noticed that I looked different from the other girls at school when I was a youngster, but I didn’t really worry about it back then,” says Lauren.

“Other children would make hurtful comments about my size, and gradually it started to upset me. When I went with mum to get my school dress one year for the start of the summer term I followed her into the fitting rooms and when she handed me the blue and white dress it was far too small.

“I tried on three bigger versions before I found the right size. Mum reassured me and told me it was because I was just growing, but over the next few weeks I noticed I looked different from all of my friends. I was bigger than they were, but I was happy and didn’t dwell on it.”

As she went on through secondary school, though, Lauren grew increasingly self-conscious.

“I became more and more aware of my weight compared to the other girls,” she recalls.

“Sometimes the other children would make hurtful comments and I’d go home and cry my eyes out.

“I asked mum if she thought I was fat, and she told me that of course I wasn’t and that I looked lovely, but I didn’t really believe her.”

Then the worst thing happened. “I sat on a bench and it broke underneath me at the beginning of sixth form. Loads of people were laughing at me. A few of my friends told me not to worry but it really upset me. It was horrible.

“When I’d finished my exams, I went to my school prom and I laughed and joked with my friends, but deep down I hated being so much bigger than everyone else. I felt out of place.

“We had photographs taken at the prom, and I stood with my friends, plastering a smile on my face. I hated having my picture taken and when I saw the photographs afterwards I couldn’t bear looking at myself.”

Lauren started to comfort eat. She had bigger portions at mealtimes and snacked on chocolates, crisps and biscuits. But she was so unhappy that her school work started to suffer.

“The more I struggled the more desperate I became,” she recalls. “I was worried I was doing so badly that I wouldn’t even get into university.”

With her future as a motivation, Lauren decided to take serious action and started cutting back on food in September 2008. It started with just chocolates and crisps but then she began to miss meals, too. “I just didn’t bother eating meals,” she explains.

“It wasn’t a run of the mill diet I was on, it was more like starvation. But to me it was simple – stop comfort eating and start dieting instead.

“I would lose the weight and it would be the answer to all my problems – a new slimline me.”

As soon as the decision was made, Lauren’s lifestyle changed.

“Overnight I went from eating everything to pretty much cutting everything out. In a day I would just eat a rice cake, or a plum.

“Then I’d eat a little bit in the evening at dinner, but only so my parents didn’t know. I’d hide things at the table and throw them away afterwards.”

The pounds started to drop off. “Mum noticed I was losing weight. I told her I’d just cut out junk food,” says Lauren.

“She told me to be careful and not lose too much. But I was obsessed. I wanted to transform the way I looked every time I stood in front of a mirror. I wanted people to see me differently.

“I wasn’t prepared to be the fat girl anymore, feeling awkward and self-conscious. I was going to fit in like everyone else. I kept getting on the scales and every time I lost a pound I felt a sense of achievement.”

After a year, Lauren had lost nearly eight stone. Lauren’s mother was so worried about her rapid weight loss, she took her daughter to see her GP.

“The GP just told me to put on weight,” recalls Lauren. “Instead, I just kept losing more. I was weighing myself every few hours and my life had become a daily battle to control my calories.

“Mum would plead with me to eat. She even removed the bathroom scales so I couldn’t obsessively weigh myself.

“In a way it was great, but in another I was still struggling, only this time it was a different struggle. I couldn’t concentrate at school and I was freezing cold all the time. I needed a hot water bottle on my lap, even in the summer.”

In July last year, Tracy took her daughter to a psychiatrist. When she stepped on the scales her mum realised for the first time the true extent of her weight loss – Lauren was six stone.

“Mum was so shocked she just let out a gasp,” recalls Lauren. “I was too exhausted to even cry.

“My school work was suffering and it was causing a lot of stress at home as mum was so worried about me.

“The tension between us was now unbearable.”

It was then she made up her mind to get better. “I could see how much it was upsetting mum. I didn’t want to cause any more pain to my family.”

Lauren was admitted to an eating disorders clinic at Milton Keynes Hospital, and under medical supervision she started to eat six small meals a day.

“At first I couldn’t even bear the thought of gaining a single pound,” admits Lauren.

“But I put my family photos at my bedside and every time my resolve weakened, I looked at those as a reminder of why I was trying to get myself better.

“My sister Ellie wanted me to come to her 16th birthday party, so I was determined to put on enough weight to be allowed to go to that, which I did.”

Lauren has been discharged from the clinic and now weighs a much healthier eight stone. She is determined to maintain it for everyone’s sake.

“Mum has been my rock. I couldn’t have got better without her,” she says. “It has been a tough battle, and I am taking it one step at a time, but I am definitely on the road to recovery.” (Nino Guevara Ruwano)


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