Mary Turner Thompson’s world fell apart when she found out her husband and the man she thought she would spend the rest of her life with was a bigamist and a fraud.
William Allen Jordan seemed like the perfect devoted husband – but he was secretly married to three other women and had 13 children Mary knew nothing about.
Devastated when she discovered his harrowing secret, Mary turned to comfort eating to help her get through the difficult months ahead and her weight spiralled out of control.
Jordan’s offences, which included bigamy, fraud and gun crimes, were exposed in 2006, when it was also revealed he was a convicted sex offender.
Not only that but the seemingly loving husband had conned Mary out of £200,000 after telling her he was a CIA agent.
She believed his lies, especially when he seemed to show her the proof, and was delighted when he proposed just three weeks after they met online in 2000.
Jordan, from America, told Mary he was an active CIA operative on secondment to MI5 in the UK.
He even showed her proof of his job, including wage slips, and within six months of them meeting the couple were pregnant with their first child, Eilidh.
They lived as a family with Mary’s oldest daughter Robyn, from a previous relationship.
She said Jordan persuaded her to sell ‘everything she had’ – including her flat – by leading her to believe her children’s lives were at risk.
But her world came crashing down in 2006 when Mary was contacted by another of Jordan’s wives, who called her to say ‘I’m the other Mrs Jordan’.
It turned out Jordan – who was released from prison in 2016 – was a liar and a scam artist who had duped Mary and two other women into marriage, as well as fathering 13 children with a total of six women.
The trauma of his betrayal led Mary, from Edinburgh, to gain five stone and at her heaviest she weighed 19 stone.
But then in October 2019 she decided to transform her life and discovered Second Nature – an NHS-backed weight-loss plan that ‘rewires’ bad eating habits.
She embarked on the 12-week programme and switched high-carbs and snacks for healthy meals.
Mary also started to walk and swim regularly. She went from 19 stone and a size 24, to 17 stone and a size 18.
She explained: “After living with a psychopath for nearly six years, I lost everything – I was homeless with three children to support.
“After everything happened I initially gained two stone. I tried different diets to try to lose the weight, but nothing worked. I had resigned myself that this was going to be my size forever.
“Then in 2016, I slipped a disc in my back and I was bedridden for three months.
“It was constantly in excruciating pain. I couldn’t sleep for more than 15 minutes at a time and I had to do that sitting up with cushions piled up beside me. I had to crawl to and from the toilet.
“The kids were having to do the shopping, and every day I’d ask them for crisps and chocolate – I don’t remember eating a proper meal as I was on morphine the whole time.”
The 54-year-old says she felt like giving up after she piled on five stone.
Between 2016 and 2018 Mary underwent two spinal operations and the following year she was able to walk again.
But she had to take it slowly and wasn’t able to lose the weight she had put on.
She said: “The very fact I could walk the shops was bliss.
“I had always wanted to get in control of my weight, but nothing was working. I was eating homecooked meals, but they were very carbohydrate heavy – and I couldn’t move enough or fast enough to burn off the calories.”
Mary saw an advert for Second Nature on social media and decided to give it a try.
After signing up, Mary received a set of ‘smart’ scales and an activity tracker that links with the app, allowing her to monitor her weight-loss progress and daily step count.
She was also sent a recipe book, a meal plan and daily motivational articles, and was added to an online peer support group – hosted by a qualified dietitian offering daily advice.
Mary said: “I thought that I would give it a go, but I wasn’t expecting anything. Then I lost 10lb in my first week – it was incredible.
“So many diets focus on just one thing – exercise or calories – but with Second Nature, it’s the combination of everything – food, exercise, sleep and water. You learn step-by-step how to lose weight for good.
“I didn’t understand why carbs were bad, and they explained the science behind what carbs do to your body. They send articles every day and reading those got me in the right mindset.
“I was also sent smart scales and a pedometer – and was encouraged to walk more every day. I felt very supported and like I wasn’t alone – and everything made sense, and it was a really clear path forward.”
By the end of the 12-week Second Nature programme, which now has 30,000 users and is already being used by 2,500 people on the NHS, Mary had lost two stone – and finally felt in control of her eating habits.
She said: “Before I felt like I wasn’t in control of my body but I didn’t know what the problem was. I didn’t realise how important it was to focus on a combination of things to lose weight and feel healthy.”
Mary also admits since being on the programme she no longer craves sweet treats.
She explained: “I ate a packet of my favourite Jelly Tots a few weeks ago and they were disgusting.
“My tastebuds have completely changed and to me, things like milk and yoghurt now seem sweet. I don’t see it as a diet, I see it as a new way of life.”
Mary has written a second book about her experience called The Psychopath to follow on from The Bigamist.
Breakfast – Two slices of toast
Lunch – A sandwich
Dinner – Pasta bolognese, cottage pie with rice
Snacks – crisps and chocolate
Breakfast – overnight oats with Greek yogurt raspberries
Lunch – chicken or ham salad and vegetables vinegar
Dinner – moussaka cottage pie with carrots and sweet potato – swapped out the carbs spag bol
Snacks – no snacks
What is the diet plan?
Second Nature was set up by Chris Edson and Mike Gibbs — both former NHS advisors — to tackle Britain’s obesity and type-2 diabetes epidemic.
The programme has so far amassed 30,000 users and is already being used by 2,500 people on the NHS, and a further 14,000 people will be prescribed Second Nature via the NHS over the next three years.
The programme claims that in just 12 weeks, it can help customers replace bad habits with healthy ones.
Customers are guided by an online health coach – a certified nutrition expert who will keep them accountable every single day – and supported by a digital peer group.
They will also receive regular educational articles to help and motivate them throughout the programme.
Through these, those embarking on the weight loss journey will learn about the different aspects of lifestyle change – including diet, exercise, sleep, stress management, thought patterns and behaviours.
There are two subscription packages – with the Second Nature Tech package customers will receive wireless scales – which will auto sync to the Second Nature mobile or web app, a nutrition guide handbook and a recipe book. 138208672551
If they opt to sign up for the Second Nature NoTech package, they will still be able to sync their step and weight readings through either Apple Health or Google Fit.
The core programme lasts for three months. Afterwards, customers will automatically transition to the Sustain programme for £10 a month, where they can continue to practice the healthy habits they have acquired.
Additionally, they will receive continued support from their health coach and group, ongoing access to their app and tech, extra educational contents, and access to the Sustain communities.