What really happens when you lose 20st

Writer Samantha Noyes, 30, lost two thirds of her body weight and expected her life to transform.

It’s still weird for me J to type that. If you need a frame of reference, I lost two Zoe Saldanas plus an average eight-year-old girl.

The first thing everyone asks when they discover how much weight I’ve lost is how the hell I got that big in the first place. The truth is that, during my first year at university, I was raped. I never told anyone, mainly because I didn’t think anyone would believe me. He was attractive; I was never the prettiest girl, so why would he have to force himself upon me?

I dealt with it with food and drink. I figured that if I could make myself even less attractive, I wasn’t going to get hurt again.

When I graduated, I’d gone from a size 14 to 22, and by the time I opted for a gastric band, I was a size 32. At 26 and 32st, I was utterly miserable. I was already on blood-pressure medication, and diabetes was a serious risk. It was like standing on a platform watching as my life sped through the train station.

But I didn’t really give much thought to how life would be 20st lighter. And I certainly didn’t expect, as 2-3lbs dropped off every day, that I’d be left with so much spare skin it feels like a small child is yanking on me 24/7, that I’d be reliant on a lifetime supply of Spanx, or that I’d need to save £20,000 to get plastic surgery.

Then there’s the other stuff, like the fact that your periods stop. Mine disappeared two months after surgery because of the changes to my hormone levels, and took a year to come back. That meant no PMS, no bloating, no cravings and no cramps. Surely a bonus? Yes, until a (pregnant) friend asked me if I was worried about losing the ability to have children. I hadn’t really viewed it like that — luckily I don’t want any but I’d never thought the choice might be taken away from me.

THE DATES FROM HELL

Speaking of making babies,dating has proved surprisingly painful since losing weight. What could be more appealing than a bumbling,socially awkward woman with saggy skin, who’s clueless about men and might throw up when she’s given fried food? Form an orderly queue, guys!

Admittedly, anything could be better than the relationships I’d had before — mostly flings or friends-with-benefits. There were a few unlucky ones who found me attractive (allegedly), like the guy with a pregnant-women fetish. If that doesn’t kill your self-esteem, nothing will. Add on the married guys (after all, who’d expect their husbands to cheat on them with a 32st fatty? It’s the perfect cover), and I was a romantic failure.

Now, 20st lighter, I’m still single. And dating hasn’t necessarily got easier. One guy asked me if I was still a virgin; another got so drunk, I went to the loo and just walked out — I was tired of answering whether I had weighed more than *insert large item or animal here*.

The upside is chivalry. The thought of a man helping me unload a heavy heater from my car and carrying it up two flights of stairs to my flat just because I’m a slim woman is still a foreign concept for me. But a positive one.

Since I’m dating more, I’m having sex more and, yes, the sex is better. A lot better. I know you shouldn’t just hop into bed with someone straight off, but I have needs and you get tired of DIY. Now the pool of men I have to choose from is bigger and better-looking — so why not take advantage of it? Don’t worry, I’m smart and safe: I didn’t lose all this weight just to get chlamydia.

EMOTIONAL JUNK

When I told friends I was getting a gastric band, they were supportive. But there’s a point when you lose that support -and suddenly become competition. Cara Delevingne I’m not, but a few times a guy has shown interest in me rather than my friend, and her nose has been put out of joint (one told me I didn’t know what it’s like to be passed over by men!).

I’m not saying this because I’m cocky, but men seem to be attracted to my new ‘what you see is what you get’ attitude. I’m not afraid to put myself out there. Dare I say I’m confident? Yet some people don’t like sharing the spotlight. One former friend told me I’d changed and that she liked me more when I was fat. She was having trouble losing some baby weight and was getting tired of seeing me in skinny jeans. I asked her what she’d expected to happen to me after the surgery and she said she thought I’d get down to about 17st, then plateau at the point where I was thin, but not thinner than her. We barely talk now.

I have to admit life is easier to deal with when I’m happier with myself — extra skin flapping around and all. It’s funny how having the confidence in my appearance has helped me professionally. I’m putting myself out there more in the writing world, which I like to think is based on my talent, not my shrinking waistline. When I interview people, they’re no longer short or rude with me; they actually take the time to give me answers they’ve thought about. It’s still strange to catch my reflection and think,’I look good!’ There have been many things about losing weight I never expected, but I’d rather be dealing with extra skin, constantly shopping for smaller clothes and being 20st lighter, than being the depressed fat girl who drowns her sorrows with McDonald’s, cupcakes and wine. Actually, I take that back — wine does still help make everything better.

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