Tackling her own Everest

Tue, Mar 13, 2012, 00:00

TEENA GATES went from a happy, healthy child to energetic, fun-loving adult. But somewhere along the line, she allowed her small frame to become distorted and almost destroyed by the very substance which keeps us alive – food.

The 98fm radio journalist is a petite 5ft 2in who has always loved horse riding, snorkelling and generally keeping active. But a fall from a horse more than a decade ago saw her turn her back on exercise and, due to chronic back pain, seek solace in comfort eating.

Before long, she had ballooned to 23 stone and was informed by a doctor she needed surgery on her gall bladder but she was too heavy to be operated upon.

This spurred her into action and in the space of 12 months, she lost an astonishing 12 stone and scaled mountains, both metaphorically and in reality. She has chronicled this in a book entitled O ne Foot In Front of the Other.

“I was never a skinny child, but I have always been fit and active,” says Gates, who is in her mid 40s. “I never saw myself as an athlete but took my fitness for granted – I was always on the go, both at work and during my leisure time – it was just part of my make up.

“But about 12 years ago, I had an accident while horse riding and was in a lot of pain – I had extensive bruising and, although my X-rays came back clear, I found it very difficult to move and my back was always sore.

“I continued to eat what I normally did, but because I wasn’t moving, I didn’t burn anything up. So about four months after the accident, I looked in the mirror and I didn’t like what I saw – I had changed shape, but rather than do something positive about it, I comforted myself with junk food.

“As time wore on, I got bigger and bigger and even though I hated it, I found it almost impossible to change,” she admits. “I weighed as much as two people, I broke chairs on more than one occasion and even broke a sofa.

“ I was always terrified of going places as I never knew if I would be able to fit into a seat or even if it would hold my weight – it was horrendous, but I didn’t have the motivation to make the effort to become healthier.

“But then I was given an ultimatum – I had been suffering with cramps and terrible nausea and was diagnosed with an infected gall bladder.

“The consultant told me I needed to have an operation to remove it but because I was too fat, it would be impossible for him to perform surgery.”