Not having time or the cash for home-cooked meals meant I’d fallen victim to the convenience of Macca’s, KFC and greasy Chinese food. I knew I’d gained some extra padding – but I didn’t think it was that bad.
Upset, I turned to food to make me feel better. Not wanting my friends to know the truth, I’d eat dainty portions in front of them.
Then, late at night, I’d get stuck into chocolate, ice-cream, bread and cheese, polishing off around 5000 calories in one sitting. Sometimes, I’d even sneak it in my car before going inside so no-one would see me.
Horrified, the next day I’d punish myself by barely eating a thing and trying to work it all off with three-hour gym sessions.
I felt unattractive and imprisoned in a body I hated.
Fed up, I visited my family GP and asked her to refer me for lap-band surgery. ‘I’m sick of being fat,’ I admitted.
After the surgery, I did lose around 35 kilos. But it made me sick, so I had it deflated and piled it all back on again.
Finally having the lap-band removed, my weight ballooned to over 120 kilos and I barely fitted into the biggest size at the clothes shop. At age 26, I went back to my doctor.
‘I think I need a gastric sleeve,’ I said. It was extreme – it meant part of my stomach would be removed. But I’d researched the operation to the ends of the earth and knew it was what I wanted.
Only telling close family I was going in for surgery, I went on a shake meal plan to prep my body. ‘I wish diets or work-outs would work for me, but they just don’t,’ I told everyone.
‘We support you no matter what,’ my mum Paula said.
The day before surgery I was weighed and found I’d got my weight down to 113 kilos. Two weeks after surgery, I was 105 kilos.
With the kilos dropping, I excitedly shopped for new clothes to fit my shrinking frame. The scales turned from my enemy to a friend as I watched the numbers fall.
‘You look so much happier,’ friends and family told me.
Eating a low-carb, high-protein diet, I was down to a svelte 68 kilos within 18 months. While I felt incredible, there was one problem. Losing 52 kilos so quickly meant I had a lot of loose, saggy skin.
I even had to tuck the doughy flesh into my new clothes. It meant I lacked confidence to show off my new body. I didn’t realise loose skin would be such a huge consequence of dropping weight fast.
A year after my op, I went to a plastic surgeon and showed him the excess skin on my stomach and arms. ‘You’ll need a breast lift, an arm lift and a 360-degree tummy tuck,’ he explained.
All up, it was going to cost a staggering $22,000! I’d already dipped into my super for the $10,000 gastric sleeve surgery, so I couldn’t pay for it myself.
Luckily, my incredible mum was willing to help me out. ‘You’ve worked so hard, you deserve this,’ she told me.
So, over three separate operations, I had 1.5 kilos of skin removed from my stomach and another kilo from my breasts and arms. Afterwards, I felt like a whole new woman!
My body had finally transformed into the figure I’d always dreamt of.
Once the scars healed, I wanted to celebrate properly. It was a beautiful, sunny day so I bought a tiny bikini and headed to the beach.
I’m finally free! I thought.
It was the first time I’d ever worn a two-piece swimsuit – and I felt so beautiful in it! I’ve even found love with my amazing boyfriend, Sean, 30.
Ten months on, I’ve maintained a healthy weight and sculpted my body with HIIT workouts at an F45 gym.
My relationship with food has changed dramatically too.
I still indulge myself every so often with a cookie, but I haven’t had a binge session since my weight loss.
Now, at a fit 73 kilos and a size 12, my focus is on sustaining an active lifestyle and practising mindful eating.
I wish I didn’t wait so long to live the life I wanted. I was trapped, but now I’m finally free.
BREAKFAST: Bacon and eggs
LUNCH: KFC or Macca’s
SNACK: Ice-cream, chocolate
DINNER: KFC, Macca’s or Chinese food
BREAKFAST: Yoghurt and fruit
LUNCH: Tuna, avocado and rice
SNACK: Protein bar
DINNER: Taco bowl, meat and veg or homemade pizza