Thanks for the reply. That is helpful as an independent and honest opinion. Just to give you a bit more detail on a few points and some additional questions. would be grateful if you could offer your views:
1) Not ideal perhaps but I am shortly due to move from London to Zurich to take up a new job (accepted this before we met) while she will remain in London (although will commute to Zurich fairly frequently for work and weekends and I will travel the other way). I know this will not make this any easier but we are making plans to see each other frequently.
2) Re what you say about psychological underpinnings of issue I suspected that and she knows as much (as the weight gain dates back to after that incident and she thinks of it very much as taking away her beauty). I can see how it feeds into low self esteem in certain areas only (body image). Is there something else I could suggest. Counselling perhaps (i dont think she ever got counselling for the rape incident as she never told anyone)?
3) in terms of your suggestion of letting her bring the topic up I can see the sense although I must admit I am eager to bring it up myself as I feel I have not responded helpfully to her comments in the past and I have bottled up the issue in myself (this links to 5 below). The problem with the "help me eat better" suggestion is I dont know how to make it sound particularly credible to myself or herself (I eat a very healthy diet and exercise lots). I was thinking of perhaps asking for her help by saying that I would want her help in joining me in some form of exercise that she (and we both) enjoy in effort to help me get fitter as I am lonely doing it myself and miss her.
4) I must admit I do feel like I am deceiving myself and herself by not being more truthful and straightforward about her appearance (I would try and do it in a very gentle way whilst emphasising all else I see in her but perhaps there is no way of doing that is not damaging to her?)and am finding this increasingly difficult. But I guess this is the best (and only approach)?
5) most scary of all this is leading me to question whether I do really accept her just as she is (which is what love must mean) or whether that is not in fact the case (despite me thinking that it should be and I should feel that way). Perhaps I need to examine my own feelings more carefully first before I have any conversations on this topic. At first I had thought I was accepting her as I saw her true self as who she is and some extra weight as not really part of her true self and something that could easily be removed (perhaps on back of lots of stuff she said about wanting to do so). However increasingly I am beginning to question whether that was naive of me and in fact I should see the weight and the way she looks as part of her and simply accept it (which I am finding it difficult to do). Any views? Put another way I guess I think I need to face the ultimate question of: despite all else I see in her if she were to never succeed in loosing the weight would I be happy to spend the rest of my life with her and if the answer is not a resounding yes then I am doing something deeply wrong by being in the relationship. Any views?