Decades of purging and disordered eating would follow for the articulate and gregarious 35-year-old.
Using food to comfort her inner demons, Carla hit rock bottom when she realised she had spent so much of her life as a prisoner in her own body.
Overcoming fertility issues and learning to conquer negative thought patterns, Carla turned to Bodyslims when she weighed 23st 3lbs — and it changed her life.
Now 13st lighter, at 10st 7lbs, the new mum to seven-month-old baby boy Brannach, is sharing her miracle journey towards health, happiness and becoming pregnant.
“I have been overweight for as long as I can remember — I remember thinking about having to lose weight from the age of five,” reveals the content creator.
“I began hiding food at that age, and over the years I suffered with a binge eating disorder, food addiction and bulimia. So I have had disordered eating my entire life.
“I was always the bigger friend and the biggest person in the school. But you would never know that I wasn’t confident, when really I was dying inside.
“I had no idea what was happening with my weight or why I was like this.
“But I don’t think you get to 23st without there being a reason — for me, I was trying to escape the trauma I was feeling inside.
“It was this constant negative self-talk. I was pretty successful in my career and I had a lovely partner and home.
“But nothing mattered because I thought, ‘You’re fat and overweight and whatever you’ve done doesn’t matter, because of the way you look.’
“I had built this barrier between myself and the world as a defence mechanism and as an escape from this voice in my head.”
In the same way people turn to gambling and alcoholism, Carla was using food to numb her pain.
Describing her health as a ticking time bomb, the Dubliner explains: “I was consuming 6,000 calories a day and I was waiting for that to take effect.”
In 2019, while driving down the N7, Carla had an epiphany that changed the entire trajectory of her life.
“I had this smack of realisation that everything I have ever thought or said about myself was a lie. This voice in my head isn’t my own. It was a voice that I picked up from society and this script I received as a child, and it dictated my whole life.”
Looking to her sister who had successfully completed the Bodyslims programme, Carla was at first reluctant to try the plan.
“I remember thinking, ‘what a cult. Who is Gerard Moran and who does he think he is?’ “But then one day I just said to my sister: ‘what is this Bodyslims thing?’
“I had been doing therapy to help with the food addiction and I was ready to make a change.
“I remember going in on the first seminar. I had never seen anyone my size lose it naturally, so I was very sceptical.”
The doting mum decided to document her weight loss journey on her Instagram account, @halfofcarla.
“In the video when I walked into the seminar you can see all my barriers are up and I was so defensive.
“But something clicked. I weighed in at 323.8lbs — I said, ‘OK, I will never be that weight again.’
Speaking of the programme Carla says: “It goes in 10-week blocks. In the first week, I lost 8lbs and I was devastated. I had lost 8lbs on every other plan in the first week. I thought, ‘Maybe this isn’t any different?’
“At the end of three weeks I had lost a stone and at the end of the first cycle, I had lost 3st.
“Every week, you watch a seminar that is delivered by Gerard Moran — and that is the most important part.
“The core of Bodyslims is you have a calorie allowance, it is a limit — not a target. You have to walk for one hour every single day.
“But what makes it different to every other programme I have followed is the seminars.
“They teach you about your attitudes and your behaviours and how you can change your relationship with food and be mindful of what you eat.
“I remember being taught the difference between weight loss and weight maintenance and it blew my mind.
“We have been told our whole lives that weight loss is you lose a pound and then you gain a pound. But that’s weight maintenance. That’s how you actually maintain your weight — keeping within a small range.
“Weight loss is supposed to be over a defined amount of time, so a short period of time where you go for it and then you are finished. But the multi-billion dollar weight loss industry doesn’t make money when you are finished.
“In Bodyslims there is no labelling things as bad or good because you are creating a negative attachment to food. You get your calorie limit and are told how you can eat well, within your calorie limit.
“There is no upselling, so you won’t be asked to buy a super cleanse smoothie. It’s just the programme.
“Calories are also a universal language so it is very easy to follow when you come off the programme.
“I thought at the start, ‘I am never going to be able to stick to these calories’, especially because I was used to eating so much.
“At the end of the seminar I had tunnel vision — I wanted to do it. And because it is short sprints, it really helps.”
If you plan well, it does work.
“I would sit down before we did our grocery shopping and plan out what we were going to have for lunch and dinner. On Tuesday night I knew I was having a taco salad, and it stopped me from standing looking in the fridge.”
Since shedding half her body weight, Carla has a whole new lease of life.
“Being overweight was all I knew — I didn’t realise how hard my life was until I lost the weight.
“My biggest non-scales victory is crossing my legs because I was never able to do that before. I remember the first time I walked up the stairs and I wasn’t out of breath.”
Changing her eating habits and her attitude toward food has helped.
“I used to eat well but eat all the wrong foods. I did four cycles and lost 13st in 14 months,” says Carla.
Reaching her goal weight, Carla was stunned to realise she was pregnant just four weeks later.
“At the start of my weight loss journey I learned that my egg reserve was really low.
“I was referred to the IVF clinic straight away, and I was told the best thing I could do was to continue to lose weight.
“I was expecting to have to go through IVF — but in the end, I had a low-risk pregnancy and Brannach was born in January with no complications. That would never have happened when I was 23st.
“Now I treat myself with so much more respect, and I put myself first because I need to look after myself first and foremost.
“My life in three years has changed so much. Between weight loss and sharing my story, it has changed my whole life. I have received the greatest gift in this new life.”