Almost three years ago, Rebecca Jump made two good decisions – the first was to face up to her demons, while the second was to visit a hypnotherapist to help with the binge-eating that had plagued her most of her life.
Both were courageous moves that saw the 21-year-old Aucklander lose a massive 32kg and, more importantly, turn around the destructive relationship with food she's had since she was seven.
"I can't remember a time I didn't have a negative relationship with food," says Rebecca from the Henderson home she shares with her partner Dylan Waite.
Rebecca was seven when her parents separated, triggering feelings of loneliness. "I'd steal food from the pantry and hide it, even though I knew it was wrong. If I opened a packet of biscuits, I'd make myself eat them all, even if it made me feel sick. I couldn't seem to stop."
about food, eliminate the sabotaging behaviours of eating for comfort, boredom, habit and stress, and to take the main focus away from the number on the scales."
Along with the usual hurtful childhood bullying, when Rebecca was 15, a boy she had a crush on rejected her because of her size.
"It reinforced the fact that I'm fat, so no-one will want me. That's why I turned to food because no matter what I was going through, whether I was happy or sad, food comforted me."
Concerned for their daughter's health, her parents took her to numerous doctors. "I was tested for thyroid, gastric and diabetes issues to see why I was putting on weight so quickly, but everything came back negative."
Her parents also encouraged the second of their three children to diet, keep food diaries, join gyms, and take up fitness, swimming and dancing classes. "But I couldn't find a plan or exercise that worked for me. I know now that weight loss has to be a choice and people can't be forced into it."
At her peak, Rebecca weighed in at 130kg. But it wasn't until Dylan, her partner of four years, questioned her unhealthy eating habits that something snapped.
"One night in bed, Dylan asked for a cuddle. But every night after work, I'd go to the supermarket and buy snacks, then sit in bed eating them. When I told Dylan I was too full to cuddle, he asked why I ate myself to the point of discomfort every day. When I couldn't answer him, I knew something was wrong."
While researching binge-eating, Rebecca realised she had an eating disorder. It's how she found Richard Kellow, an Auckland hypnotherapist who specialises in weight loss. "I'd never heard of hypnotherapy as a weight-loss technique, but I was at rock bottom and nothing else had worked, so I thought I'd give it a go."
Rebecca's parents paid for the six hour-long sessions with Richard, but even after the first one, Rebecca had "a bounce in my step". She recalls, "It was my moment of epiphany. I thought, 'I can finally do this.' I went straight home and started making the changes necessary, such as eating smaller portions, eating only what my body needed and eating slowly."
Within the first week, Rebecca had lost 5kg. "I was amazed at how quickly hypnotherapy worked. Each week I went back to Richard, I became stronger and was able to resist the bad eating habits I'd picked up over the years, from binge-eating to missing breakfast."
And she went from never touching a vegetable to now filling her plate with them.
"My relationship with food is so different from what it was," she enthuses. "I've learnt to make better food choices and listen to my body when it comes to portion sizes. I hate the feeling of being full and I couldn't overeat now if I wanted to."
Spurned on by her shrinking waistline, Rebecca has also taken up cycling and walks the couple's Maltese terrier Aria most days.
"I can move around freely without getting tired. Losing weight has not just helped with my medical issues, but it's also helped my mental health."
Rebecca says she has another 13 kilos to lose before she hits her goal weight of 85kg and admits she couldn't have done this without hypnotherapy.
"Richard helped me change my life for the better. I got to where I am today because of dedication and strength, but he motivated and enabled me to follow my weight-loss goals."
Richard, who turned to hypnotherapy to manage his own weight-loss issues, says it was about breaking Rebecca's focus on food.
"By the end of our sessions, she was no longer turning to food for comfort," says Richard, who works with clients around the world. "The most important parts of this process are to free the mind from thinking about food, eliminate the sabotaging behaviours of eating for comfort, boredom, habit and stress, and to take the main focus away from the number on the scales."
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