Mum who battled fat build up in her legs relieved after medical diagnosis
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
A mum-of-two who has been living with a condition which causes an abnormal build-up of fat said it is "a relief" to be diagnosed and to now be helping other women with their size and their confidence.
Heather Bloomfield, 38, has been suffering with the effects of a relatively unknown condition called lipoedema since her teenage years, but only received the diagnosis a couple of years ago.
The Great Cornard mum said she struggled to lose weight from her legs and arms since being at school and said often her calves will be an extra two inches wider by the end of the day.
Her thighs measure 25ins and her calves 18ins, yet her waist is just 27ins. Even when she was going to the gym four times a week she was seeing no change in her leg shape or size.
After visiting her GP and then a dermatologist she was officially diagnosed with lipoedema in 2019, which she described as a "relief" after years of frustration.
Lipoedema most commonly affects women and causes the abnormal build-up of fat in the legs and arms, which can be painful and impact daily life.
The size of her legs put Mrs Bloomfield off doing certain sports at school, such as netball, as she didn't want to wear a skirt in fear of people looking at them.
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"Thinking back now I realise there is so much I missed out on because of it," said the 38-year-old.
"I used to put off going swimming or I would rush for my towel, but since the diagnosis I feel more empowered as I realise there is nothing I could do."
Her weight piled on when she was shielding last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, spending months cooped up at home.
"I can't explain the relief of knowing that the reason that my arms and legs have always been bigger and I've not been able to shift the weight is due to a medical condition," she explained.
Mrs Bloomfield was made redundant in July after almost 15 years working in technical sales, and said it was a tough time for her.
After losing her career she sought a new job as an independent consultant for The 1:1 Diet by the Cambridge Weight Plan, having followed the plan to help her lose weight after childbirth and when she wanted to drop the stone and a half she had put on while shielding.
She wanted to help more women feel confident in their bodies and loves her new role, saying she "hasn't looked back".
"I love what I do now because there are so many women who feel the same, and haven't heard of lipoedema either."
Mrs Bloomfield has found the 1:1 diet, which involves meal replacement shakes and low carbohydrate products, has really helped her keep her weight off — but there is still nothing she can do about her legs.
"I feel so much more empowered now that I have lost weight elsewhere on my body, and although my legs are still big I know that's what I have to deal with and that's why I have chosen to have surgery."
She has been saving up for MicroLipo surgery to remove the lipoedema fat, as it is not available on the NHS.
It will involve three procedures; one for her calves and one for each thigh.
She said it has been "amazing" to see people such as Shaughna Phillips from Love Island talking about the condition and raising awareness of the illness.
"I can't explain how amazing it will be to not feel like people are looking at my legs," said Mrs Bloomfield.
"What I'd most like is to be able to pick up any pair of boots or wellingtons and them fit. This is something I've struggled with even when I used to go horse riding as a teenager.
"I'm sure that will resonate with anyone with Lipoedema that affects their calves."