A WOMAN who lost half her body weight in eight months in a bid to get pregnant was left needing therapy, because she hated being thin.
Five foot tall hairdresser Zebe Voicu, of Redbridge, East London, was told she wouldn’t be able to conceive when she ballooned to 15 stone and a size 20 – after eating giant portions of chicken kebabs and chips every night.
The 34-year-old turned to junk food after failing to become pregnant with husband Adi, 38, but her GP said she’d need to lose weight if she wanted to become a mum.
Zebe decided to get a gastric sleeve but her BMI wasn’t high enough for an NHS op, so she flew to Romania and paid £6,500 to have three quarters of her stomach surgically removed.
Over the next eight months, she shed seven-and-a-half stone but was left wishing she was still fat.
Speaking exclusively to Fabulous, Zebe said: “I went from a size 20 down to size 4 and didn’t even recognise myself. I couldn’t connect who I saw in the mirror with who I was now.
“I’d cry to my husband and say I wanted to get fat again because I preferred the way I looked before.
“I loved being a size 20 as it fitted my personality. I was so bubbly and chatty being bigger and I lost all that after the operation.
“I only agreed to have the operation so that I could lose weight and have a baby. But that didn’t happen so I wondered why I’d put myself through all that pain.”
Zebe started having therapy to come to terms with her new look and failing to conceive.
She saw a counsellor once-a-week for 18 months, before finally accepting the person she saw in the mirror.
When people see me now they tell me I have a body to die for, but they don’t know everything I’ve been through
She said: “It’s only now after a year-and-a-half of therapy that I have learnt to like how I look.
“I can see the benefit of losing weight even if I haven’t managed to get pregnant.”
Pregnancy and obesity: the facts
If you have a BMI of 30 or above before becoming pregnant, you are medically classed as obese.
Being obese reduces your body’s natural ability to ovulate and may lower your chances of getting pregnant through treatment like IVF.
If you do fall pregnant, obesity increases your chances of gestational diabetes three-fold, as well as your risk of miscarriage, high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, post-partum haemorrhage and having a baby weighing more than 4kg.
It can increase your baby’s risk of being born prematurely, stillborn or with a condition like spina bifida.
You are also more likely to need intervention during childbirth – including forceps, ventouse delivery or a C-section.
But it’s not safe to try and lose weight while pregnant, instead focus on eating healthily and doing exercise like swimming and walking.
You should ideally try to lose weight before falling pregnant.
Zebe, who has six sisters and three brothers, had always wanted a large family of her own, and vowed to start trying as soon as she married Adi aged 21.
She was a slim size 10 but, as each month passed without falling pregnant, she began comfort-eating – piling on 5st in a year.
She said: “I was turning to food to fill me emotionally as I was devastated at the thought of not having a baby or being a mother.”
After continuously trying for a baby for over a year, Zebe was told she was infertile due to her size, and that her only chance of becoming pregnant would be to drastically lose weight and change her lifestyle.
But even though she was classified as clinically obese by her GP, she didn’t qualify for a gastic sleeve operation on the NHS as her BMI was 38 – two below the necessary 40.
Instead she flew to a private clinic in Constanta, Romania, in 2017, and had 75 percent of her stomach removed, including the area which produces the hormone that stimulates hunger.
After the surgery, Zebe saw the weight drop off, losing a stone every month.
In the salon, we always had biscuits lying around to give to clients and I could easily eat ten in one minute
“I was shocked,” she said. “I was determined to lose weight but I never thought I’d lose that much that quickly.
“I guessed I’d lose a couple of pounds at first, so I wasn’t mentally prepared to see myself change so much.
“When I’d lost half my body weight I couldn’t even recognise myself anymore. It wasn’t just the way I looked, it was my personality, too.
“After the operation I was miserable all the time. Having therapy helped me to manage my emotions as I accepted the new, thin me.”
Working 13-hour days as a hairdresser, Zebe would gorge on biscuits all day, before scoffing a takeaway for three for dinner.
She said: “I’d never have breakfast. I’d just snack on tea and biscuits throughout the day.
“In the salon, we always had biscuits lying around to give to clients and I could easily eat ten in one minute.
“My favourite were chocolate digestives and the Lotus caramelised biscuits.
When she got home, Zebe would order a takeaway of chicken kebab and chips meant to serve three people – and eat the whole thing.
But after her op, she could only drink liquids for three weeks, followed by food mashed into paste for a further three weeks.
Breakfast: Packet of chocolate digestive or Lotus caramelised biscuits which she grazed on throughout the day
Lunch: More biscuits
Dinner: Takeaway kebab and chips – enough for three people
Snacks: Fried food and chocolate
Breakfast: Two poached eggs with half a sausage or smoked salmon and two Ryvitas
Lunch: Salad with grilled chicken or fish
Chicken noodle soup
Meatball soup with carrot and potato
Greek salad without olive oil or olives
Dinner: Stew made with dumplings
Chicken and vegetables
Avoids: Anything fried
Now she can stomach three meals-a-day, but they must only weigh 250g each.
She said: “I have to be really strict and measure everything out. For breakfast I have two poached eggs with two pieces of Ryvita or poached eggs and smoked salmon.
“For lunch, I love to have salads with grilled chicken, or fish and soups with carrot and potato, or chicken and noodles.
“For dinner, I cook a stew with lots of vegetables and chicken. I can eat anything that’s cooked in the oven, grilled or boiled, but nothing cooked in a frying pan.”
She never feels hungry and is showered with compliments, but Zebe is still desperate for a baby.
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Doctors haven’t found a reason why she can’t conceive, so the couple are still trying.
“When people see me now they tell me I have a body to die for,” she said, “but they don’t know everything that I’ve been through over the past three years.
“It’s taken me a while to come to terms with my new body and not being a mother. I don’t know if it will ever happen but I’m finally happy in my own skin.”
We previously reported on a woman who was fat-shamed by her date – but got her revenge by losing 5 stone and rejecting him.