Obese woman became anorexic in 15 months after dropping to just 7.5st

Woman who went from obese to anorexic in 15 months by consuming nothing but Diet Coke and walking 50,000 steps a day admits she ‘wanted to die’ at her lowest point

  • Natalie Bradley, 32, of Radcliffe, Manchester, began spending hours exercising
  • Walked up to 50,000 steps a day which caused the skin on her feet to fall off 
  • Diet consisted of Diet Coke and laxatives, and she went from a size 24 to a size 4
  • Struggled with mental health for years and at lowest point she ‘wanted to die’ 

A 19st woman who became anorexic in just 15 months after dropping to just 7.5st due to her Diet Coke and exercise addiction has credited lockdown with ‘saving her’.

Natalie Bradley, 32, from Radcliffe, Manchester, would spend hours exercising every day day, walking up to 50,000 steps – something that caused the skin on her feet to fall off and put her at risk of sepsis.

Her diet consisted purely of Diet Coke and laxatives, and she went from a size 24 to a size 4.

Natalie admitted she has battled with food since she was a young teen and her weight has yo-yoed for years.

Natalie Bradley, 32, from Radcliffe, Manchester, went from obese to anorexic in just 15 months after dropping to just 7.5st due to her Diet Coke and exercise addiction (pictured in October 2018)

Natalie would spend hours exercising every day day, walking up to 50,000 steps – something that caused the skin on her feet to fall off and put her at risk of sepsis (pictured in February 2020)

In October 2018, Natalie weighed more than 19st, but by February 2020 her shocking photos show a frail figure and she was admitted to hospital after her weight loss obsession became so severe it was almost fatal.

Now in recovery and a healthy size 12, Natalie hopes that by speaking out about her struggles she will encourage other people to seek help.

She said: ‘I went from 19 stone to just 7.5 stone in 15 months. The only thing I would drink was Diet Coke. 

‘I was going to the gym twice a day and swallowing an entire box of laxatives every day.

‘It was causing me to collapse, but I couldn’t stop myself – but I knew if I carried on I would die.’

Now in recovery and a healthy size 12, Natalie hopes that by speaking out about her struggles she will encourage other people to seek help (pictured in July 2021)

Natalie has suffered with eating disorders since she was 13 and weighed just 6st when she was 16.

The teenager had joined college and hoped to study performing arts but had to leave because she spent so much time in hospital.

She said: ‘At 16, I weighed so little I was often spent months bed bound and would develop sores.’

Then in her teens and twenties her weight ballooned. In 2018, aged 29, Natalie was unhappy with her 5ft 5in, 19 stone frame and wanted to lose weight to ease her back pain and other weight related ailments.

What started off as healthy eating and gentle exercise quickly became a dangerous addiction to the scales.

In October 2018, Natalie weighed more than 19st (pictured), but by February 2020 her shocking photos show a frail figure

By February 2020, her weight had fallen to just 7.5 stone and she was wearing size 4 clothing and was struggling to stand

Natalie said: ‘To start with it was just eating healthier and gentle, regular exercise, but I soon became obsessed with the emotional feelings attached to losing weight.

‘It felt really good and soon became addictive. It went too far and I couldn’t stop.

‘Soon it didn’t matter how much weight I lost, it didn’t feel – or look – good enough.’

Just 16 months later, by February 2020, her weight had fallen to just 7.5 stone and she was wearing size 4 clothing and was struggling to stand.

She was admitted to hospital in February last year and said: ‘I knew I wasn’t coping.


At the beginning of her weight loss, Natalie said she was just eating healthier and doing gentle, regular exercise, but she soon became obsessed with the emotional feelings attached to losing weight

Natalie has spoken honestly about her thoughts to end her life and said: ‘The constant battle, being petrified I wouldn’t wake up and not wanting to wake up. I had lots of intrusive thoughts every day’

‘I ate just enough so I could exercise without collapsing. My size six clothes were hanging off me.

‘Doctors warned me I would get sepsis in my toes because I was exercising so excessively I was shredding the skin on my feet and I now have nerve damage.

WHAT IS ANOREXIA?

Anorexia is an eating disorder and a mental health condition.

People diagnosed with it try to keep their weight as low as possible by eating little or excessive exercise.

Men and women can develop the illness, however it typically starts in the mid-teens.

Those with anorexia can have a distorted image of their bodies, thinking they’re fat when in fact they are severely underweight.

Causes of the condition are unknown, but those with it have either low self-esteem, have a family history of eating disorders or feel pressured from society or place of work.

Long term health complications can include muscle and bone problems, loss of sex drive, kidney or bowel problems or having a weakened immune system.

Treatment for anorexia can include cognitive behavioural therapy.

‘I knew I needed help and I know lockdown saved me. It forced me to slow down because the gyms closed and shopping was restricted.’

Natalie spent three weeks in hospital and continued her recovery at home with her dog Ollie.

She said: ‘I am taking it day by day and step by step. I do struggle a lot but I have a very supportive family and good friends and I am now in recovery.

‘Ollie has been my saviour. Even on my lowest days, I had to get up and fed and walk Ollie and he kept me going.

‘Women of Worth in Radcliffe were a massive support, both on the telephone and face to face support during lockdown, and I received great support from social workers, doctors and physiatrists and my dad was my rock.’

Now Natalie has gained some weight and said she is comfortable in a size 12 clothing, weighing around 12 stone – although she doesn’t weigh herself now.

She has spoken honestly about her thoughts to end her life and said: ‘The constant battle, being petrified I wouldn’t wake up and not wanting to wake up. I had lots of intrusive thoughts every day.

‘I have struggled with various eating disorders for years, I have binged, been sick and refused to eat.

‘I never liked myself big or small but I am slowly comfortable with how I look now.

‘I have struggled with my mental health for years and at my lowest point I truly wanted to die.

‘I battle everyday with my mood and thoughts around food, but I am getting through it and I am not ashamed by it and I am learning to accept it.’

Now, Natalie is volunteering with a local mental health charity, BIG. She said: ‘I want to give something back to the people who saved me. Their support was priceless. 

Natalie spent three weeks in hospital and continued her recovery at home with her dog Ollie (pictured)

Now, Natalie is volunteering with a local mental health charity, BIG. She said: ‘I want to give something back to the people who saved me. Their support was priceless’

‘I work on the phone support line and I do enjoy crafts and I really enjoy my gym classes but they are for fun now and to socialise, I don’t go to lose weight.

‘If you are reading this and you are struggling, please seek help and don’t give up.’ 

For confidential support, log on to samaritans.org, call the Samaritans on 116123, or visit http://shiningalightonsuicide.org.uk.

For help with beating eating disorders visit www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk or call 0808 801 0677 (adult helpline), 0808 801 0811 (student line), 0808 801 0711 (youth line). For Anorexia & Bulimia Care call 03000 11 12 13 or visit www.anorexiabulimiacare.org.uk. For Students Against Depression visit studentsagainstdepression.org.

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