A size 24 bride has lost more than half her body weight to walk down the aisle for a second time after she was hypnotised into thinking she had a gastric band.
Sarah Price, 33, from Caerphilly, weighed 22 stone when she tied the knot in a sun-soaked joint ceremony with her size eight sister Amanda in Cyprus.
She felt ashamed at the differences between her and her sister, however a decade passed before she tackled her weight – and in July last year the estate agent married her second husband weighing a svelte 9st 4lbs.
When Sarah Price from Caerphilly married for the first time in a joint ceremony with her sister in 2000, she weighed 22 stone and says that everybody’s eyes were on her for ‘all the wrong reasons’
After losing more than half her body weight through gastric band mind treatment in Spain, she lost more than half her body weight. She now weighs 9st 4lbs – and tied the knot with new husband Adam Price in July 2015
The wake up call came on New Year’s Eve 2009 when Sarah attended a fancy dress party dressed as an angel.
Having piled on even more pounds over the Christmas break, Sarah told how she was mortified by the shocked look in her friend’s eyes as she arrived at the party.
That night, Sarah made the most important resolution of her life – and hasn’t looked back since.
She said: ‘I know most brides slim down for their wedding but for me, the pre-wedding stress just led me to the nearest bakery. I remember going via Greggs for a pasty, a chocolate bar and a slice of cake, on the way to a dress fitting.’
Sarah told fiancé Lee Hart, now 41, that she’d diet after the wedding.
‘It was typical of the lies I told myself to justify my size. I’d tried to diet over the years. I’d joined gyms and announced to family and friends numerous times that I was overhauling my lifestyle, but diets never lasted. Gym memberships gathered dust.’
Big sister Amanda, now 38, had tried many times to encourage Sarah to diet, but she says her advice fell on deaf ears.
Sarah recalled: ‘I wasn’t ready to hear it. Amanda was the only person who could tell me I needed to lose weight, but I didn’t listen.
‘I was the kind of woman who skipped breakfast. I’d nip out of the office mid-morning in search of chocolate and a fizzy drink.
Before her dramatic weight loss, Sarah’s dinner consisted of double portions of Indian takeaway or lasagne smothered in cheese. She chose a huge medieval inspired number for the joint wedding day – and laughed it off when a guest joked she looked like Henry the Eighth
‘Lunch was a pastry and a slice of cake. Dinner was a lasagne smothered in cheese, and while it was cooking I’d pick at the block of cheese until there was none left. Before bed, I’d wolf down a sandwich.’
With Amanda also engaged and planning a wedding, the sisters hit on the idea of a joint ceremony.
Sarah said: ‘It was such a great idea. Our families would only have to fork out for one event, it would save us both money. We decided to have the wedding in Cyprus so we could guarantee sunshine.’
Sarah didn’t let herself think about how she’d look next to her size eight sister.
Sarah said: ‘I had always dressed in brash, big clothes and my wedding dress was no exception. Knowing I couldn’t compete with Amanda in the style stakes, I decided to go for a huge medieval inspired number.
‘But even I was amazed at how much material there was when I carried it back to the car, arms outstretched.’
With Sarah’s size 24 dress packed next to Amanda’s size eight gown, the sisters and their families flew to Cyprus in 2000.
Sarah, 33, pictured with friends Helen Owen and Helen Robinson, said she burst into tears on the morning of her wedding after fitting into a size eight dress which had to be taken in to fit her newly slender frame
Sarah said: ‘If I’d worried all eyes would be on Amanda’s natural beauty, I soon realised all eyes would be on me, but for all the wrong reasons. As the ceremony began, people gawked at how big I was. I told myself the widened eyes were complimentary.
‘Even when Lee’s mate joked: “Who are you marrying, Henry the Eighth?” I laughed it off as I’d laughed off so many cruel comments over the years.’
Sarah focused on her love for Lee and how happy she was to marry him. Over the coming years, Lee and Sarah settled into married life.
‘Dinner consisted of double portions of Indian takeaway,’ said Sarah. ‘Amanda would tell me I was gasping for breath and needed help, but I’d just cut her out of my life for a few months whenever she tried to reason with me.’
Lee and Sarah had two children together, Harrison, now eight, and Marshall, seven, and the family moved to France while Lee worked as an engineer. Then came December 2009.
Sarah said: ‘ As usual Christmas was a time for even more gluttony. Sugary cocktails and Baileys didn’t count as calories as far as I was concerned, liquors came thick and fast.
Sarah, pictured after losing more than 12 stone, underwent sessions of hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to learn about greed and how portion sizes were connected to her emotional state
‘I stuffed my face, sometimes having three puddings in one day. On Christmas Day, I had a fry up in the morning, the full Christmas dinner for lunch, and spent all day drinking sugary mulled wine and eating chocolate. It was no wonder I was in pain, my stomach felt like it was going to burst.’
Following Christmas, Lee and Sarah decided to surprise their friends back in Caerphilly, Wales, with an impromptu arrival at their fancy dress New Year’s Eve party.
Sarah said: ‘We flew in from France that day and didn’t have time to sort an outfit, so I had to raid my mum’s wardrobe. I could just about fit into an outfit I called a Christmas angel, but the truth was I was falling out of it.’
As Sarah’s friends greeted her, their eyes said it all.
She said: ‘They were just so shocked at the sight of me. After a Christmas binge, I was huge. As the clock chimed midnight, I made a resolution. I was going to sort my weight out once and for all.’
Returning to France, Sarah started dieting and walking more often. Then in early January she was flicking through a magazine when she found an article about gastric mind band treatment.
She said: ‘It was hypnosis that could trick your brain into thinking you’d had a gastric band, without the risk and at just 1000 euros, a fraction of the cost too.
Sarah, pictured at her first wedding in 2000, said: ‘I don’t want to take away from how happy I was marrying Lee. But I looked awful.’ She has slimmed from 22 stone to 9st 4lbs after imagining her stomach shrinking and learning to eat smaller portions less often
‘It sounded perfect because I not only couldn’t afford a real gastric band, I was scared of the idea too.’
With Lee’s support, Sarah signed up for the next available course in March that year.
She said: ‘We flew to Spain with the kids in tow. Each morning for five days, I walked two miles from our hotel room to the clinic for a session of hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). I could have caught a bus, but walking was all part of the new me.’
The sessions taught Sarah about greed and how portion sizes were connected to her emotional state.
Through hypnosis, Sarah began to imagine her stomach shrinking. She said: ‘You have to believe it’s going to work, and I did.
‘I visualised my large, existing stomach as a heavy melon, then my new stomach as a little golf ball. While Lee and the kids ordered pizza in the hotel restaurant, I opted for soup. I wanted to eat smaller portions, less often.’
As the sessions neared the end, Sarah was given her own personalised golf ball, which she placed on the table next to her plate whenever she ate.
She said: ‘It might sound silly, but having that golf ball in front of me really focused my mind. I didn’t want to overeat.
Sarah is now a svelte size eight after overhauling her diet and joining the gym. She is happily married to Adam, 26, following their wedding in Cardiff last year
‘I wasn’t going on a fad diet. I was changing my lifestyle. As I walked out of my last session, I felt so empowered and determined to change.’
Sarah started off on a liquid diet, slowing introducing yoghurts, then salads, as if she had undergone a real gastric band.
Within nine months, she’d lost 7st and in 2011, reached an incredible 9st 7lbs.
Sarah said: ‘I ate a diet rich in chicken and vegetables, never stepping foot in my local takeaway. I started going to the gym four times a week, combining resistance training with cardio.
‘It was a pivotal moment the first time Amanda lent me some clothes. We were the same size for the first time in our adult lives!’
‘People smiled and held doors open for me! Waiters didn’t look at me like they were expecting me to order everything on the menu. Kids didn’t point at me. I didn’t have to worry that my chair was going to break. I was free.’
But while 5ft 4in Sarah was changing, so was her marriage. She said: ‘Our old dynamic didn’t work anymore. It wasn’t that I’d lost weight. It was that I had changed on the inside.’
Sarah and Lee broke up amicably in April 2012. She explained: ‘We remained friends, and he’s still an amazing dad to our kids.’
Newly single, Sarah dared to dream that one day she’d marry again but this time, truly happy with her size.
Later that year, Sarah was on a work night out when she bumped into a few old school friends. However while they were busy complimenting Sarah on her weight loss, she could not take her eyes off their friend, Adam Price, 26.
She said: ‘We flirted away, swapping stories about Cardiff City Football team, then he asked me out on a date.’
A year later, on holiday in Kos, Greece, Adam proposed over dinner in a restaurant.
Sarah recalled: ‘I said yes without hesitation. Within seconds, my mind was abuzz with thoughts of an elegant, classy dress.’
Ordering a size eight wedding dress online, 9st 4lbs Sarah even had to have it taken in.
Eventually Adam and Sarah married in July 2015 at De Courceys Manor in Cardiff.
Sarah said: ‘I burst into tears on the morning of our wedding as I stepped into the dress. I still wasn’t used to my reflection and now here I was, a bride the size I’d always wanted to be on my first wedding day.
‘I don’t want to take away from how happy I was marrying Lee. But I looked awful. I got to be the bride I’d always dreamed I’d be.
‘Going to that party as a fat Christmas angel turned out to be the best decision I ever made!’
Sarah had a Gastric Mind Band treatment at the Elite Clinic in Spain.