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