A formerly obese Brisbane-based mother has shed more than 50 kilograms in just over a year after a health scare led to her having gastric sleeve surgery.
Alana Garret was 119 kilograms in November 2015 when she elected to have the procedure after losing her entire thyroid to cancer.
Just five weeks earlier, the 32-year-old had given birth to her first child, Matilda.
Now just 65 kilos, Alana told Daily Mail Australia that at that point, she had been overweight for more than 20 years.
Feeling fine! Alana Garret, 32, lost more than 50 kilograms after having gastric sleeve surgery
Mum’s the word: After being diagnosed with thyroid cancer just five weeks after her daughter Matilda was born, Alana realised she would struggle to instill high self-esteem in her child if she didn’t have it herself
After having her thyroid removed in late February 2015, she gained 20 kilograms in just six months.
It was a combination of deteriorating health, years of fighting her weight and her new role of a mother that influenced her to have the surgery.
‘I had lost the same 30 kilos over and over again,’ she explained.
‘I realised I would just be fighting those same 30 kilos for the rest of my life unless I got some help.’
Previously, Alana would drink up to five large cans of Pepsi Max a day.
If she was dieting and had a piece of cake, she was quick to give up and would declare the week a write off before proceeding to ‘eat everything I see until the following Monday’.
The human resources adviser said she knew she would struggle to be a good advocate for her daughter’s self-esteem if she couldn’t boost her own.
‘I really owed it to myself to be a healthy mother and to model healthy self-esteem so my daughter would have someone to look up to and help her feel confident about her body and the way she looked,’ she explained.
Moving on up: Alana says she had never struggled to lose weight, but was never able to keep it off – until now
Since the surgery, Alana has been on top of the world. The mother-of-one has been travelling and even entered fitness competitions.
‘It’s completely changed my life,’ she said.
‘It changes everything. It’s allowed me to feel confident about myself and to know if I set my mind to something I can do it.
‘It’s been the best thing I’ve ever done.’
Jumping for joy! Since the surgery, the Brisbane woman has competed in Miss Muddy and publicly bathed naked in Japan
In 2015, Alana and her sister competed in Miss Muddy, a Tough Mudder style competition. Pictures from the day show an elated and muddy Alana, something she couldn’t have imagined prior to her surgery.
‘Before, I wouldn’t have been caught dead doing that,’ she laughed.
‘Climbing up a wall, jumping into a mud bath then having myself covered in mud looking awful?
‘No thanks. I’ll be where the bar is, eating hot chips and watching everyone else.’
She also visited an Onsen during a trip to Japan, a public bath which requires users to strip down to nothing and shower in front of others before entering the bath.
Alana said doing that was a huge step, considering she used to get dressed in the dark.
In hiding: The mother-of-one admitted before the surgery, she would get dressed in the dark
‘I didn’t even like seeing my own body,’ she said, adding: ‘I hated it’.
Alana said she is also now able to walk around a water park without feeling like she needs to cover herself and can happily swim at the beach without board shorts.
Alana has also relied heavily on the support of other women on Instagram who have undergone the surgery.
Alana revealed she regularly scours the social media channel for healthy recipes and support, and says it has been a huge help.
Learning: Alana has dedicated much of her free time to learning more about her surgery and how to make the most out of life afterwards, and enjoys sharing her discoveries with others
‘The group of girls I’ve found through the weight loss surgery community, we get together roughly every two months face to face,’ she said.
‘We go out and have a nice meal together, and share tips and support and discuss our goals.’
She also attended a convention in the US for people who have had weight loss surgery, and makes it a priority to keep learning.
‘The sleeve surgery is a tool. I recognise it’s not going to do all the work for me,’ she said.
‘I still have to eat well, educate myself, because obesity is a disease and I need to make sure I stay on top of it.’
Supported: She is part of a tight-knit circle of women who have undergone the procedure. They share recipes, tips and act as a support system for one another
Aside from a batch of new recipes and friends – and much smaller portion sizes – Alana says she has also experienced a drastic change in taste.
While she was once ‘obsessed’ with Pepsi Max, she is now unable to stomach it.
‘The day I had my surgery it was like a switch went off in my brain, and now it tastes like battery acid to me. I cannot drink soft drink,’ she said.
Alana says she is ‘so proud’ of her hard work and accomplishments, which have placed her back in a healthy BMI range for the first time since she turned 13.
‘I have the confidence to not let my issues with my body stop me from getting on with things,’ she said.
‘I don’t get dressed in the dark anymore.’