A CARER mum who guzzled more than a litre of Diet Coke every day has lost over 5st by ditching fizzy drinks and snacks.
Kate Harding, from Bourne, Lincs, started piling on the pounds after a motorbike accident left her husband Carl paralysed 20 years ago.
The 49-year-old became his full-time carer and later for her teenage son Harry, who has cerebral palsy.
Their complex needs left Kate with little time to look after herself so she turned to sugar fixes like Diet Coke and family-size bars of chocolate to get her through her days.
At her heaviest in October 2018, she weighed 17st 1lb and was a dress size 20.
Now down to 11st 7lbs – a trim size 12 – Kate credits her weight loss to the 1-1 Diet by Cambridge Weight Plan and has even become a consultant herself.
“Food was my solace,” she admits. “Whenever I was feeling sad I wanted to put something sugary or stodgy in my mouth.
“I drank litres of Diet Coke during the day – the caffeine kept me running.
"Then at night I numbed myself with bottles of wine.”
Kate was a newlywed with a baby on the way when Carl’s motorbike was involved in a head-on collision with a car driving on the wrong side of the road in 1996.
Three months pregnant with their first child, she sat at her husband’s bedside in intensive care and willed him to survive.
Carl fractured his spine, ribs, wrists, punctured both lungs and suffered a head injury.
He was left paralysed from the chest down and spent more than a year in hospital.
“Luckily he was in a wheelchair by the time our son Sam, now 22, was born so he was able to be with me at the birth,” Kate says.
“But it was an incredibly tough time.
“I moved in with my parents, Steven and Diana Brereton Martin, for support, and spent every day shuttling to and from hospital.
Whenever I popped out I picked something up and wolfed it down guiltily in my car
“That was when I first began to comfort eat.
"I’d always been proud of my trim figure, but with my husband paralysed from the chest down, my appearance was the least of my worries.
“I survived on snacks from the hospital vending machines and canteen sandwiches loaded with mayo.
"The stress gave me terrible reflux so on my way home I’d stop at McDonald’s for a vanilla milkshake.”
The couple slowly rebuilt their lives and began trying to grow their family.
But it took eight years and six attempts at IVF before their second son Harry came along in 2005.
Throughout it all Kate comfort ate and yoyo dieted.
“Our second son, Harry, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was just a toddler,” says Kate.
“Not only was looking after my husband, but now I was Harry’s carer too.
“Because Carl is in his wheelchair everything physical in our house fell to me; from taking the bins out to lifting, bathing and bending to Harry.
“The only thing that kept me going was oodles of Diet Coke.
"I necked litres of the stuff, bouncing from one sugar hit to the next.
“What I put in my mouth became my solstice. I stuffed myself with handfuls of biscuits and bars of chocolate – Whispas and Mars were my favourite.
"Whenever I popped out I picked something up and wolfed it down guiltily in my car, telling myself calories don’t count if nobody sees you eating them.”
Soon Kate was wearing size 20 clothes.
She recalls: “Standing in a queue at the shops one day, I heard a girl behind me saying snidely: ‘Oh I’m not getting those – leggings are for fat lazy people’.
“I looked down, and of course I was wearing a pair of black leggings.
"The only things stretchy enough to go over my huge tummy.”
As Harry grew into a teenager caring for him became harder and harder.
Kate was out of breath putting her own socks on – never mind Harry’s.
“Sweat was lashing off me by the time I’d got him out of bed, nappy changed, transferred to his chair and dressed each morning,” she says.
“Sometimes I even needed a second shower.”
In October 2018 something inside Kate finally snapped, and she made an appointment with a local Cambridge consultant Vicky Holder. That meeting changed her life.
“Following the plan was so simple – the shakes, soups and other products meant I didn’t even have to think about food,” she explains.
“For the first time, I felt free of the compulsion to comfort eat.
For the first time, I felt free of the compulsion to comfort eat
“No more snacking… no more Mars bars… no more Diet Coke.
“The weight literally fell away. I lost 1st 7lbs in my first month. My confidence grew as my waistline shrank.”
Kate lost an incredible five-and-a-half stone in just five months – and was able to throw away her black leggings.
“The biggest change has been my ability to care,” she says.
“Harry is 15 now and he also has indicators of autism, so looking after him is a full time job and it’s only going to get tougher.
“The new slimmer me finds it so much easier to bend to him, lift him, bathe him and change him.
"I also have energy left at the end of the day to enjoy time with Carl, or treat myself to a facepack or bubble bath.
“And I’ve become a 1-1 Diet Cambridge Weight Plan consultant myself.
"Fitting my meetings around my responsibilities to help others lose weight has given me a whole new lease of life.
“I’ve realised that you can’t care for the people around you if you don’t properly care for yourself.
"And now I’m confident that I’ll be around to look after my boys for a long time to come.”
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