Here, Kate Gibbs, 37, tells the story in her own words.
With his blond hair, dreamy blue eyes and toned physique, the attraction was instant.
‘Jeremy, long time no see!’ I cried.
We’d been at the same school years before, but with Jeremy, then 33, being four years older than me, we hadn’t socialised.
Everything changed that night at the RSL club and I could feel the chemistry between us sizzling!
Within weeks, he’d moved in with me. Unable to keep our hands off each other, just six months later, I was pregnant with our girl Misty – a little sister for my daughter, Charlee, then eight. Life was hectic but happy. We still made time for romance though.
Then a couple of years later, we decided to give up smoking. And that’s when I began snacking.
One day I saw an overweight woman in the supermarket. Wow, she’s huge, I thought. Then I realised it was my own reflection!
‘Oh my god, have a look at yourself,’ I cried.
Stepping on the scales, I got an even bigger shock as 123kg flashed on the screen. ‘I’ve put on 26 kilos since I quit smoking!’ I said to Jeremy. ‘You look beautiful to me,’ he said, giving me a cuddle. But I squirmed away, feeling uncomfortable.
From that moment, I tried one diet after the other, but the weight always piled back on.
One day a friend refused to let me ride his motorbike, saying I was too heavy. Then another mate asked me to be the Fat Controller at a Thomas the Tank Engine-themed birthday party.
The turning point for me was when I found out that my Aunty Jenny was using her super-annuation to have gastric sleeve surgery. Slimming down from 110kg to 52kg, she looked fantastic.
‘Maybe you should have it too,’ she suggested to me.
So I went to my GP, who weighed me. At 129 kilos and a size 22, I was far too heavy for my 161cm height. ‘You’re morbidly obese,’ he said, making me flinch.
Referring me to a surgeon, my body was assessed. ‘You’re a good candidate for vertical sleeve gastrectomy,’ he said.
He explained he would remove 85 per cent of my stomach, leaving a long thin ‘sleeve’ for food to be processed in. I’d produce fewer hunger hormones and feel fuller quicker. ‘I’ll do it,’ I said.
Health insurance meant instead of $21,000, I’d pay $9000. It was still a lot of money for an aged-care worker like me, but I’d made up my mind. ‘I’m having the op,’ I told Jeremy that night. ‘Good idea,’ he said. ‘I can see how your weight has affected you.’ He was right. I’d just refused to admit it.
Our sex life was nothing like before. I got out of breath walking up the stairs, let alone trying to make love. And when we did, my large tummy squished between us.
In April 2017, I was wheeled into theatre. The operation took just 40 minutes, but it would change my life forever.
Looking at my stomach afterwards, I saw there were four small incision marks. I can live with that, I thought.
For the next six weeks, I existed on tiny amounts of broth and puréed veg to give my stomach a chance to heal.
Within two months, I’d lost 19 kilos. After 18 weeks, I’d lost 32 kilos – the weight of my girl Misty, six.
A year later, I’d shed a whopping 50 kilos – about the weight of Charlee, 14! ‘You look fantastic, Mum,’ Misty said. ‘Amazing,’ Charlee agreed. Jeremy thought so too. ‘You’re beautiful and sexy,’ he said, cuddling me. This time I didn’t squirm away.
At 77 kilos, I felt much more attractive. Best of all though, I felt really confident. Not only did I have heaps more energy, my stomach
no longer got in the way!
Before, with my big bum, belly and boobs, I struggled to find nice clothes. Now a size 14, I can dress how I like.
Today, I eat all my meals out of a child’s bowl featuring Anna and Elsa from Frozen. If I eat too much it’s like having three Christmas dinners in one go – I literally feel I could burst.
I’m more active too. Now we all go cycling or walking together. I’ve even promised to go skydiving with Charlee!
I’m also looking forward to a weekend away in a swanky five-star hotel with Jeremy. I have a feeling that’s going to be one hot weekend – and I’m not referring to the weather!
Read more in this week's issue of that's life!, on sale now.