CBT helped me overcome my obesity

Kelly Henderson has been obese for most of her life. By her mid-fifties, she’d reached a size 32 and no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t seem to get on top of her weight. Feeling desperate, she joined a counselling group that specialised in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which opened up a new world of opportunity.

“When I was a little girl, my mum was an alcoholic. She didn’t drink every day, but every few weeks she would binge excessively and then be mortified by her actions once she’d sobered up. To try and make it up to me, she would buy in all the best treats and my favourite foods.

I desperately wanted to fix my mum so that I could feel safe and happy, but of course it was impossible. My way of dealing with the anxiety I felt was to overeat. Soon enough, like my mum, I developed an addiction. Not to alcohol, but to food.

When you’ve been obese for most of your life, you can’t always see the obvious mistakes that you keep on making. I made the best decision of my life and joined a weight loss group that combined a very low calorie diet with CBT.

My counselling group set about unpicking my negative behaviour around food that had become ingrained over the decades. I learned how to recognise the ‘impulse action’ sequence – that sudden urge to eat and the action of picking up food and putting it into your mouth. I realised I could create a pause between the two and ask myself whether I was really hungry or not. More often than not, I wasn’t.

I lost more than eight stone and I’ve learned to create my own boundaries around food. For me, challenges arise when there is no healthy food in the cupboard or I find myself in an unexpected situation where food is on offer. I’ve learned to say no and know that it is ok to turn down food prepared by other people.

My group is made up of a lovely bunch of supportive women. Together we examine the psychological reasons behind why we eat the way we do and how to change our behaviour. I know that being part of that group enabled me to reach my goal weight and to maintain that loss. I feel so much younger and healthier.”