Health Stories

How a pair of undies saved my life!

Loading the player...

When Katerina saw herself in the mirror, she knew she needed to change…

Here, Katerina Vasiliadis, 48, tells the story in her own words.

Boarding the plane, I squeezed into my row and squished myself into my seat, then I tugged the seatbelt around my belly.

But to my horror it wasn’t even close to fastening.

‘Excuse me,’ I said quietly to a flight attendant. ‘Can I have a belt extender please?’

Rolling her eyes, she screamed down the aircraft to a fellow worker.

‘This lady in 14C needs a belt extender!’ she pointed.

Feeling eyes darting my way, I sank down, mortified. And back at home, I cried telling my hubby Arthur.

‘She should’ve been more discreet,’ he soothed.

An emotional eater, I’ve always turned to food to comfort me. So, that night, I dug into a family-sized packet of chips and had a chocolate block to myself.

Throwback photo
Arthur and me when we first started dating

I also chugged down 1.5 litres of cola a day and piled my dinner plate high with fatty foods. I weighed 118 kilos and wore a size-26.

Knowing I needed to do something, I went to my GP.

‘I recommend a gastric sleeve,’ she said, warning me my weight could lead to an early death.

But with a $22,000 price tag I couldn’t afford it and was scared of dying on the table.

‘I’ll get carried away in a casket!’ I wailed to Arthur. ‘I’ll just have to accept that I’m going to die early.’

Seeing the pain in his eyes I was appalled at my weight, but I didn’t know how to fix it.

As I poured four sugars into my morning coffee, I looked at my two dogs begging for a walk. But I couldn’t muster the strength to even clip on their leads.

With constant joint aches, chores became agonising, so I was popping pain medication almost daily.

When my sister Nikki invited me to visit her in Melbourne, I made an excuse.

‘I just can’t take time off work,’ I lied.

before and after
Before – 138kg (left) and after – 78kg (right)

Although I wanted to see my sister, I couldn’t deal with the humiliation of getting on a plane again. At my wits’ end, I weighed myself.

I’ve put on 20 kilos this year! I thought, tears streaming down my face. I now tipped the scales at 138.5 kilos. ‘I’ve had enough,’ I sobbed to Arthur.

Researching online, I found a program called Putting Health at the Top. I’d have a mentor and a community of people in the Facebook group for support as we lost weight together.

First, I rid my pantry of anything sugary. ‘I feel so empowered seeing it all in the bin!’ I told Arthur.

Then, in the Facebook group I swapped meal ideas. Encouraged by the others, I decided to kick my weight-loss journey into full gear.

Popping on my large beige undies, I stood in front of a full-length mirror.

Completely embarrassed of my overhanging stomach, I teared up looking at my reflection. But I was determined – so I snapped a picture and sent it to my mentor Kathy. I never want to look like this again, I wrote. You’ve got this! she encouraged me.

Replacing cola with water, junk food with vegies, and controlling my portion sizes, I felt great!

weight loss
Me holding 30 kilos of rice – the same weight as I had lost

Forty days later, nerves hit as I stood next to the scales. Was I doing enough? I worried, thinking of the doctor’s warning and my looming death sentence.

Stepping on, I squeezed my eyes closed and waited until I had enough courage. Then I peered down. ‘121.9 kilos!’ I squealed, as Arthur hugged me. That was 16 kilos gone.

After that, the weight fell off and with healthy meals, Arthur even lost some too!

couple weight loss
We’ve both lost weight and found a new lease of life!

To hold myself accountable, I’d send a photo of me in my underwear to Kathy every fortnight. Seven months later, I tied up my trainers and took my pups for a walk. Smiling the whole time, it boosted my confidence to kick goals.

The painkillers grew dusty in the top cupboard as my ever-dropping weight eased the pressure on my joints. Things I thought impossible are doable! I beamed.

Dropping six dress sizes finally gave me an excuse to go shopping with Kathy for new clothes. ‘A size down please!’ I said excitedly, throwing the size-14 top over the dressing room door.

Bumping into a friend, she was gobsmacked. ‘I didn’t even recognise you,’ she said. ‘I’ve lost 60 kilos,’ I told her proudly. ‘And I’ve lost 25!’ Arthur piped up.

Still, my journey is not over yet. I weigh 78 kilos and would like to lose a bit more. But I’m no longer disgusted by myself in my undies and I don’t even care about my saggy skin! I am just happy with me. Now I can say Arthur and I will lead a long, healthy and happy life together.

Read more in this week’s issue of that’s life, on sale now.

Related stories