Health Stories

I used to spend $100 a day on junk food – look at me now!

Before (left) and after (right)

Young mum Kara went to great lengths to hide her secret.

Here, Kara Dunstan, 26, tells the story in her own words.

Crouching in the pantry, I wolfed down another piece of chocolate.

I was hiding from my husband Chris, 33, as I indulged in my favourite junk food.

Trying not to get caught, I felt disgusted with myself. What was I doing?!

I’d always been a size 12 and weighed around 70 kilos, but when I’d fallen pregnant I told myself it was normal to be ‘eating for two’.

After our son Halo arrived in March 2015, I just carried on, though. Now he was nearly two and I was 50 kilos heavier.

At 120 kilos and a size 24, my giant frame left me with a collapsed knee, swollen ankles and painful joints.

I barely had the energy to run after my toddler.

‘Darling, just play without me,’ I’d tell him, too tired to get off the couch.

I felt guilty, but taking a few steps felt like a marathon.

Luckily, Chris was endlessly supportive. ‘No-one cares what you look like!’ he said, when I refused to strip down to my swimmers at the beach.

But my hubby didn’t know the half of it.

Every day, I’d spend a fortune on takeaways. McDonald’s and Red Rooster were my guilty pleasures. Using my wages and my own savings, I made sure Chris had no idea.

Popping to the shops on my way to the dog park, I’d devour hash browns with maple syrup and super-sized meals.

Before (left) and after (right)

At home, I’d get through nuggets and tubs of ice-cream. I’ll start the diet Monday, I’d tell myself.

One day, after gorging on a hefty McDonald’s breakfast, two Red Rooster meals for lunch, and pizza for dinner – plus snacks – I realised I’d spent $100 on junk food.

That was supposed to be for our electricity bill! I scolded myself. But it wasn’t even unusual for me to spend $100 a day on my secret habit. I felt so ashamed, yet couldn’t stop.

My favourite thing was guzzling a family-sized Coke every day.

Looking in the mirror, I didn’t like who I’d become. Halo had noticed the weight gain, too. Poking my stomach, he made innocent comments about my rolls. ‘Look!’ he pointed. ‘Big belly!’ I felt my eyes well up with tears, knowing I needed to change my habits – and fast. Sitting down with Chris, I told him I wasn’t coping.

‘I want to have surgery,’ I confessed. ‘I don’t feel like I’m living.’ ‘I just want you to be happy,’ he said, understanding as always.

Gastric sleeve surgery was going to cost over $20,000, and we just didn’t have that kind of cash.

Luckily, Chris was able to dip into his superannuation. He came with me to meet the surgeon, where I listed my food intake. ‘How did you eat that much?’ Chris asked in shock. ‘I was doing it in secret,’ I admitted, mortified. Chris hung his head sadly.

‘You should have told me,’ he said gently.

Feeling terrible, I vowed never to hide anything again. In the weeks before the surgery, I started detoxing.

Cutting out my daily Coke bottle was the hardest part. Horrible headaches kicked in and I had withdrawals. This is an addiction! I thought, horrified.

left saggy
My skin was left saggy

Then in March last year, I had the op. Eighty-five per cent of my stomach was removed, meaning I would feel full quicker.

For the first three months, I survived on a gruelling liquid diet. In the weeks after that, I could only manage a spoonful of soft food per day.

Incredibly, the weight was just falling off me. In the first six months I lost a staggering 40 kilos. ‘I look like a whole new woman!’ I said to Chris.

Chris and me

A year after my surgery, I stepped on the scale to find I had lost 50 kilos. At 70 kilos, I felt amazing. Even better, I was healthy.

For the first time I was eating fruit and veg – foods I had never touched before! I even joined a gym.

Feeling nervous, I met some women who were the same weight I’d been. ‘Do you want to train together?’ I asked them.

mum and son
I can run around with my son now
I love helping others reach their goals

To my surprise, they were excited to follow my workouts.

As I was leaving, the gym owner pulled me aside. ‘Have you ever thought about being a personal trainer?’ he asked. ‘Those ladies really relate to you.’

Having worked in aged care and as a photographer, this was brand-new territory.

Taking his advice, I got certified and started my own personal training business.The ladies at the gym became my first clients, and word spread like wildfire. I now run boot camps and am qualified to teach boxing. It’s so rewarding being able to help other women who struggle like I did. While I absolutely adore my new body, I have excess skin, which I will eventually have removed.

Losing weight has been life-changing for me. It has made me a better person, wife and mother. Now, I want other people to know they have the power to write their own story.

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

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