TV3 star Elaine Crowley: 'I'm probably classified as clinically obese but it doesn't bother me anymore'
Take-out meals for two and yo-yo diets - Elaine Crowley's story
During her hardest times she said: "I would order a takeaway meal for two and then I didn't want to go out because I felt bigger, it was a vicious cycle and it snowballed from there."
As a child she was athletic and sporty. Then, at 15, she broke her ankle and put on three stone over several months: "I was utterly miserable. I went from wearing nice to baggy clothes. I was very self-conscious about it. My sister came back from Australia after a year away, not that she'd think negatively, but she didn't recognise me." She says: "I have been struggling ever since."
In school, there was added pressure to conform: "Everyone around me was looking up to models like Kate Moss, the heroin chic look took off and that is what girls aspired to. But even then, looking back, I was a hell of a lot thinner than I am now. If I was that size now, I would be delighted."
It wasn't until her twenties that she started dieting: "I went on my first diet at 21. I had just finished college and I decided to do something about it. I joined Weight Watchers. But I have done every diet at this stage - the Dukan diet, Unislim, the cabbage soup diet, Lipotrim. In one of the diets there were tablets involved and then on the liquid diet, I lost 16lbs in four days. After a decade of doing all this stuff to my body, my metabolism operates at a snail's pace."
The 37-year-old says she can pin-point two periods in her life when her weight was at its heaviest: "After my dad died and also when I went through a hard time in my thirties."
"In the evenings, I would have been by myself, and loneliness, I suppose, has a lot to do with it. I eat when I feel lonely. Because of the constant dieting I didn't know when I was hungry and when I wasn't. I would order a large pizza or a take-away meal for two and then I didn't want to go out afterwards because I felt bigger. It was a vicious cycle and it snowballed from there. Of course I have shed tears over it. Trying on a dress that doesn't fit me. You get fed up.
She made excuses not to see friends: "It wasn't about my weight, it was how I felt about how I looked. I avoided ceremonies, big events, red carpets. The thought of putting on a dress filled me with dread. "One presenter told me that I would be beautiful if I lost weight and said she would prefer to have a thin body and a plain face than vice versa."
Now, she no longer lets her weight stop her from enjoying life: "I looked in the mirror at my body this morning. I wouldn't have done that before. I would have been too afraid to. Thank God, I do think I have a nice shape, a small waist and bigger bust and bum. God bless the Kardashians! This year I was a size 16 going to the VIP Style awards, which is not at my thinnest. There wouldn't have been a chance in hell I would have done that a few years ago.
"I haven't exercised since Christmas so I need to get my ass in gear. At my heaviest I was classed as 'clinically obese'. I think I could still be now. I haven't a breeze what I weigh now. But it doesn't bother me anymore. I can say that hand on heart. I have worked too hard to overcome my issues. I am who I am.
"I do worry a bit about it as I get older. Stroke, heart, attack that type of thing. But I have a small waist, I don't carry fat there, and that is when you are more at risk. If I had children I would be more worried but I only have to take responsibility for myself."
She believes many who struggle with weight are fighting an uphill battle: "We don't know what we are eating. Everything is loaded with hidden sugar now. The odds are stacked against us.
She has turned down the option of a gastric band operation but hasn't ruled it out.
She is dismayed over our obsession with weight: "It seems no one ever asks me about anything else. I abseiled for the Laura Lynn charity last week, no one asks me about that. I've done 15 years of interviews and it's always brought up."