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'I didn't wake up fat. The weight just crept on over the years'

Jules Coll had gastric bypass-surgery, as shown on RTÉ’s documentary Nine Stone Lighter. She wrote her new book, Flabyrinth, about how the weight loss was just the beginning.

Jules Coll

WE ALL HAVE that voice inside our head (I call mine Siobhán, my inner bad bitch) who tells us that we’re not good enough.

It’s the voice that tells you that you can’t, that you should give up, that you are unattractive and ugly and all of these terrible things when you’re not.

I have conquered that voice in my head and want to show that it can be done, and that transformation is possible, not only in your physical body but in your head too and that you can learn to love yourself and be a happier person.

My journey

I didn’t wake up fat. The weight just crept on over the years, like I was being sculpted by a talentless artist who eventually turned me into a Picasso of poundage.

My expedition up Mount Heaviest started off innocently enough after packing on an extra layer of insulation aprés an epic summer of boozing in the Greek islands. I thought I could easily shed the fat once I got home and keep my weight under control.

But before I knew it, I was rolling like a chocolate truffle down a mountain of icing sugar and gaining not only momentum but rolls of flab and a bloated pillow face.

Over the years, with my exterior deforming, inside my head was also morphing in the wrong direction. My mind and thoughts had turned from the blissful, carefree serenity of youth with no responsibilities, where my only agenda was fun, to a dark pit of despair where my thoughts were consumed by my appearance as I was failing miserably in doing anything about it.

I was 19 stone when I went on RTÉ’s Nine Stone Lighter, a documentary broadcast last year which showed me getting gastric bypass surgery. I had struggled for 15 years, and I continued to spiral out of control. So I admitted I couldn’t do it by myself. I needed help. I needed an intervention.

On top of all that goes with the surgery and adapting to a new way of eating and drinking, I still had to dedicate myself to a supremely healthy diet and exercise like a lunatic in order to shed the weight. I sweated like a human Niagra Falls to burn up that poundage. So I can categorically state that is it NOT an easy option to choose.

Sharing the formula

I learned so much on my weight loss journey. I decided to write a book to share the formula that worked for me in the hope that it could help a lot of people who struggle with their weight, and anyone who’s ever looked in the mirror and felt crap.

In it, I have shared everything. Everything. I really laid myself bare so that other women can identify with me. My intention was to help other people, but it turned out to be an incredibly cathartic experience for me too.

I shared my deepest darkest thoughts at the risk that I was the only one that thinks like this. But, as it turns out from the feedback of those who have read it, most of us women think like this, but none of us talk about it.

For anyone who is self-conscious and would like to become more confident about themselves, know that it can be achieved, but it’s not a radical thing that happens overnight.

You first need to recognise that you give your power to others by feeling self-conscious and worried what they think of you.

But there’s a great saying: ‘what you think of me is none of my business.’ Embracing that thought form is very empowering as you retain your power by not caring what anyone else thinks of you.

It takes 21 days to change a habit, and by saying that positive affirmation each time you feel self-conscious you can train yourself to start thinking it all the time and overcome your fears.

If you want to feel different, you have to illicit a change. Essentially you have to get comfortable with discomfort. We can never hope to achieve success unless we’re willing to embrace change and risk the discomfort of failure.

We’re all self-conscious and insecure – it’s etched in our DNA. I’d love if we could remember that we’re all just as insecure as each other. Just don’t let that stop you from following your dreams and keep working on silencing that negative voice in our head. I can promise you, if you keep practicing, it will work!

Jules Coll is a co-writer and producer of RTÉ comedy show Damo and Ivor. Flabyrinth (Gill Books) is in all good bookshops now and major online retailers.

Read: “I’m still falling, still hating myself, still regretting that I let it all come to this”

Read: I’m going to reach my 16 stone goal. Not by being lazy, but with hard work and dedication

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