Real Life

“I’ve beaten binge-eating… Now I’m the happiest I’ve ever been’

After surviving eating disorders that nearly killed her, social media star Claire Burt is now happy, confident and in love

When Timaru woman Claire Burt woke up in hospital after surgery to remove six kilograms of loose skin caused by weight loss, she had stitches from her chest down to her pubic bone.

Having suffered eating disorders that almost killed her, then having gastric sleeve surgery that helped her drop 92kg, Claire was finally out the other end. But the social media sensation had no idea that as well as gaining the confidence she’d always dreamed of, she’d soon meet the love of her life!

“I’m the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been, and I have moments where I think, ‘Oh, my God, how do I look like this?’ I thought I’d be single forever and then my partner Charlie came out of nowhere,” enthuses Claire, 30, who spoke with Woman’s Day for the first time in early 2021 about her battle with anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder.

“He has seen my whole weight-loss journey because I showed him my Instagram page, and he said how inspiring and incredible it is.”

Well-known online through her social media page Life Of A Binge Eater, Claire has more than 37,000 followers who’ve watched her fluctuating journey through weight gain and loss. After having gastric sleeve surgery in April 2020 while weighing 152kg, the chatty blonde was left with excessive loose skin, which was removed in November 2021. Less than a year later, she met Charlie Satele, 25, on Tinder.

“I had a five-hour skin removal surgery that included a skin lift in my pubic area, as well as a breast lift and fat transfer into my chest instead of getting implants,” explains Claire, who works at a print shop. “I have another surgery this year to do the top of my thighs and arms, but the major part is done, which included a muscle repair in my stomach from it being stretched out over years of going up and down in weight.”

Claire weighed 152kg before having gastric sleeve surgery.

Claire documented her recovery on Instagram, including posting photos from the day after her surgery when the bandage was removed for cleaning. Due to the pain, she could barely move and the talented singer swelled up a few weeks later. Since Claire had battled crippling anorexia as a young woman, the swelling was a mental challenge for her because it looked like she’d gained a lot of weight. But the determined fighter wouldn’t change a thing.

“Losing the weight and getting my loose skin removed gave me a whole new world. Now I can wear things I never did before,” she says. “It has been a massive factor in my confidence. I’m no longer letting my body hold me back from doing things.”

She admits her insecurities impacted her social life and mental health, with a trip to the supermarket or a bar with friends causing her distress.

Before her transformation, Claire says, “I thought I’d be single forever.”

A voice in her head constantly told Claire people were looking at her and thinking or saying negative things, while the physical consequences of being overweight meant she couldn’t keep up with others.

“Slowly, the more confident I got, the less I thought about my appearance and didn’t have it over my head all the time,” she confides. “I feel comfortable now wearing a wee crop top and jeans, or a skirt. I’d usually never wear shorts in public, and now I’m able to wear a bikini and feel confident. I have a hundred million of them in all colours and styles!”

Another downfall of her years spent doing excessive exercise and starving herself is Claire’s bone health. She now has osteoporosis because of the amount of damage she caused to her body from yo-yo dieting, including binge-eating to the point where she’d consume 10 burgers and extra sides in one sitting.

Due to weak bones, Claire has broken her arm twice.

“I’ve broken my arm twice from slipping over and landing on it,” she says. “Having osteoporosis is very uncommon for someone my age – normally you’d find it in someone who’s old. It can’t be cured, so I have to be super-careful. I try to keep on top of it by doing strength training, plus taking iron and calcium pills.”

While there’s medication that she can go on to help slow the deterioration of her bones, Claire wants to try it once she’s had children as it could make her infertile. With love well and truly blooming in her life, motherhood is something she’s seriously considering.

“I’ve never been in a secure relationship where I could truly be myself because I’ve had abusive ex-partners in the past since my self-esteem was so low,” shares Claire, whose boyfriend is in the army.

Striking it lucky: Her first date with Charlie was at a casino.

“I had all these things I wanted for my next partner, like knowing my worth and not going back to the same patterns. Then I met Charlie and he’s absolutely amazing. He’s so supportive.”

After hitting it off straight away last August thanks to similar music tastes and long video calls, the couple met for the first time in person at a casino fundraiser night, where Claire invited Charlie to be her plus-one. It wasn’t your standard first date, though – her parents were also there!

“He has fit in very well with my family and since meeting, we’ve been together every weekend,” she tells. “I introduced him to my followers recently through a live video and we had music on. We

were singing, dancing and yarning. Lots of my followers commented on the way he looks at me, which is nice.”

Claire says Charlie constantly reminds her how strong and beautiful she is, which has had another impact on her confidence. It’s also the first time she’s been comfortable in her body intimately, scars and all.

“He gets to have me at my best mentally, emotionally and physically – and it all benefits our relationship,” she smiles. “The saying you can’t love someone until you love yourself is spot-on.”

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