A British mother has shocked the public by admitting she was glad she got cancer because it would help her lose weight.
According to The Mirror newspaper, Natasha Hurst became hooked on fad diets at the age of 17, when she “stopped growing up, at 170cm, and started growing out instead”.
“It was a never-ending cycle,” the 40-year-old driving instructor said. “I’d gain weight, lose some, then gain some more.”
So when Ms Hurst was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago, she initially felt relieved because she believed the disease would help her lose weight.
“I thought cancer would be my latest diet trick,” she said.
The Mirror reported that Ms Hurst was “disappointed” to learn that chemotherapy can result in weight gain — as it did with her — rather than weight loss.
“I was so unhappy,” she said. “I’d lost my hair and I was fat — it almost didn’t matter to me that I was beating cancer. I couldn’t wait to do another crash diet.”
Ms Hurst said she understands that such thinking was “warped” and influenced by her obsession with yoyo dieting.
According to the Mirror, the problem exploded after she found herself married and pregnant with identical twin girls in 1999 at the age of 25.
“Pregnancy saw me eat for three,” Ms Hurst recalled.
“I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Huge portions of macaroni cheese, fast-food cheeseburgers, ready-made sandwiches and chocolate. It was all high in fat and high in sugar.
“I went up to 86kg but told myself it was because I was pregnant with twins.”
Ms Hurst credited breastfeeding — “it burns 500 calories a day” — with helping her lose weight gradually over 18 months.
This was short-lived, however, and Ms Hurst soon started to pile on the pounds. In the coming years, her weight would fluctuate wildly — from a size 14 to a whopping size 22.
“Intense, crash diets were my answer but I was convinced my body got used to certain ones,” she told The Mirror.
“I didn’t know what to do once the diet finished. As soon as I’d lost weight, I’d start eating what I liked and before I knew it I was digging the box of size 14s clothes out of the loft and packing away the size 12s.
“As the years ticked by, I collected a box of size 16s, too. Then 18s. At my heaviest I wore a size 22, at my smallest a size 10. I had a box of clothes for every step of my journey. Each time I found it harder and harder to lose the weight.”
Ms Hurst’s marriage crumbled in 2007 but she found love again two years later after signing up to an online dating site.
She endured six cycles of chemotherapy which she says “left me feeling so sick all the time. The only way I could stop feeling nauseous was to eat. I didn’t have the strength to diet”.
She adds: “I was so unhappy. I’d lost my hair and I was fat — it almost didn’t matter to me that
I was beating cancer. I couldn’t wait to do another crash diet.”
In 2010, doctors told Ms Hurst the treatment had been successful and she was cancer-free. However, they also warned her that yoyo dieting had taken its toll on her body and could be life-threatening.