Real Life

My husband’s mistress was slim me!

Weight Watchers' 2009 winner lost 42kg and was mistaken for her husband's lover.

Gorgeous mum Catherine Jackson was out with her husband Simon recently when an aunt she hadn’t seen for ages came marching up to them both, glaring angrily. For a moment, there was an awkward silence. But as soon as Catherine spoke, her irate aunt’s fury turned to relief, then laughter.

Catherine, who had slimmed down from 107kg to 65kg, looked so different that her aunt hadn’t recognised her and decided Simon must be having a secret affair. Auntie was so angry, she was going to confront them then ring Simon’s mother to tell on him!

The mix-up is one of several occasions when Catherine (38) has been mistaken for someone else since her Weight Watchers success. The Auckland doctor’s dramatic physical transformation has won her the Weight Watchers Healthy Life Award, with a prize package that includes a Hawaiian holiday and fashion worth $2000.

Even being seen in public with Simon is new for Catherine, who works in public health. When she was a size 22, she was reluctant to help her husband entertain his clients. Simon (41) says his colleagues thought Catherine was a “mythical wife” because they’d never met her. “I didn’t notice Catherine’s weight, to be honest. She’s always been fabulous,” he says. “But my staff didn’t believe I had a wife because she never went out.”

Catherine is once again the size she was when she married Simon, but he never once complained when her weight started to creep up following her two pregnancies with Daniel (15) and Sarah (13). “We put on weight together, and if I ever complained about my size, he would say, ‘That’s rubbish – I think you’re beautiful,'” Catherine recalls.

Now she’s reached size 10, Catherine’s workmates are also sometimes confused by her new look. At a recent meeting, a colleague Catherine hadn’t seen for a year got up and said, “Well, Catherine’s not here. Shall we start without her?” But she was sitting right beside him at the time!

Catherine used to be asked to speak at conferences as part of her public health role. But, feeling ill at the thought of being looked at while on-stage, she would make up an excuse, telling organisers it wasn’t part of her contract. She would also get embarrassed when, in a previous role as a paediatric registrar, she had to treat young patients with obesity issues. “They were clearly overweight, but how could I bring it up with their parents when I was morbidly obese myself?”

Winning the top slimming award puts the busy mum very firmly in the spotlight, except now she’s not afraid to take centre stage. Recently, she spoke at a conference for the first time since losing weight.  Inspired by his wife’s success, Simon also joined Weight Watchers and has lost 18kg in four months. “I could see what it was doing for Catherine and I didn’t want to get left behind,” he says.

For Catherine, reaching her goal weight hasn’t just changed how she feels about people looking at her – it’s made her feel better about looking at herself. She even used to avoid getting her hair done so she didn’t have to see herself in the mirror. “Now I sit there and check myself out,” she laughs.

It took Catherine 20 months to reach her goal weight. She signed up for Weight Watchers in February last year after her mother died and she had to buy a size 22 outfit for the funeral. Losing weight became a way of taking her mind of her sad loss, and as the kilos came off, Catherine’s confidence grew. She believes the Weight Watchers Points system, combined with regular exercise, means she can keep the weight off and still treat herself occasionally.

Catherine’s children have also been reaping the benefi ts of their mum’s new figure – they go for long walks as a family and Daniel enjoys going to the pool with his mother. “She’s much fitter than she used to be. It’s nice that we can go swimming together now,” he says. Meanwhile, daughter Sarah is happy to swap takeaways for a slimmer mum. “We used to eat burgers for dinner but that stopped when oum joined Weight Watchers. We eat better now – lots of fruit – and my friends say oum is pretty.”

Catherine is still getting used to her new look. “I look in the mirror and expect to see the ‘old me’ so it’s quite a shock,” she laughs. “I barely recognise myself.”

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