Kirsty Young had piled on the pounds thanks to secret fast food binges (Picture: Kirsty Young / CATERS NEWS)
After years of what she describes as an ‘addiction’ to fast food, Kirsty Young’s self-esteem was at rock bottom.
She weighed 26st 4lbs and hated her clothes, which were all frumpy pieces in a size 26.
The now 34-year-old from Geelong in Australia would often have secret takeaway binges after stopping in at McDonald’s or KFC on the way home from work.
But after the public servant began experiencing a load of health issues, including pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, and aching joints, Kirsty realised it was time to make a change.
She decided to ditch the secret eating and go vegan, swapping out fast food and chocolate in favour of fresh fruits, vegetables, and slow-burn carbs.
Kirsty has since lost an amazing 13st and six dress sizes.
At 26st 4lbs, Kirsty’s self-esteem was at rock bottom (Picture: Kirsty Young / CATERS NEWS)
Kirsty said: ‘I always felt overweight when I was in high school, but in reality I was maybe a size or two bigger than average. But in my head, it felt like more.
‘I never really ate fast food and I was always active, but I assumed people thought I did nothing but sit around eating McDonald’s.
‘I got so in my own head about it, that I eventually started making my imagination a reality and began bingeing on junk food.
‘It got out of control when I graduated from university and got a desk job.
‘I was sitting for eight or more hours a day, and I’d secretly binge on fast food when I wasn’t in a good headspace.
‘On my bad days I would go through several drive-throughs and order multiple takeaway meals. I was so ashamed of myself, I’d eat it all in secret.
‘I gained about 40kg [6st 4lbs] in my first year after graduating, which made me self-conscious and turned me to food even more out of comfort.’
When she began to experience a host of health issues, Kirsty decided to make a change (Picture: Kirsty Young / CATERS NEWS)
Kirsty’s turning point came in her late twenties, when ‘things were just getting harder’.
‘I couldn’t even comfortably fit into a train seat on my morning commute,’ she said. ‘I switched to part-time work because I couldn’t keep up with life.
‘My obesity was a constant reminder that I didn’t fit into the world. I carried a lot of self-shame and the constant unhappiness that comes with it.
‘I knew to even have a future, I had to change.’
Kirsty said that while her heaviest recorded weight was 26st 4lbs, she believes she was a lot heavier before then – but never wanted to weigh herself, out of fear of what the scales might say.
After trying to lose weight for years through different fad diets and exercise regimes with no success, Kirsty decided to seek help from her doctor who suggested she undergo gastric sleeve surgery
With her health on the line, she decided to go for it and went under the knife in August 2016, having 80% of her stomach removed.
But she’s keen to emphasise that this was not an easy fix for her issues.
Kirsty has since dropped half of her body weight (Picture: Kirsty Young / CATERS NEWS)
She said: ‘The gastric sleeve was simply a tool to aid in my weight loss, but in no way was it the answer to all my problems.
‘I knew I couldn’t waste this tool and the opportunity to turn my life around.
‘I began doing exercise I actually enjoyed such as Zumba classes, personal training, hikes with friends and bootcamps.
‘I also eat a whole foods, plant-based diet with some vegan comfort foods for balance.
‘The surgery doesn’t magically fix everything.
‘You can still eat excessive calories, it doesn’t make you exercise or heal your head and the reasons you became morbidly obese in the first place.’
Kirsty understood she would need to commit to a massive overhaul in her diet and exercise habits.
She thanks having a vegan diet to her success in losing weight and keeping it off, adding that she now has a healthy relationship with food.
Kirsty’s diet before and after:
Mid-morning snack: Larged skimmed milk latte with sugar
Lunch: Chicken schnitzel wrap or on binge day multiple takeaway meals from different drive-throughs on way home from work
Afternoon snack: A packet of chips and a Coke
Dinner: Takeaway such as Chinese or pizza
Dessert: Half a packet of Tim Tams or half a block of chocolate
Breakfast: Green smoothie with banana, berries, zucchini, spinach, chia seeds, protein powder and oats
Mid-morning Snack: Black coffee
Lunch: Mexican bowl with rice, sweet potato, chipotle hummus, black beans, greens, avocado and corn chips
Afternoon snack: A banana
Dinner: Homemade chickpea and pumpkin coconut curry with spinach and flatbread. Or homemade pizzas on the weekend
Dessert: A couple of pieces of chocolate, occasionally
In addition to the weight loss, Kirsty said her skin is much clearer these days, while her mood seems to be far more balanced since going vegan.
‘Since losing the weight I’ve been able to address the things that caused my weight gain in the first place,’ she said.
‘I’ve been able to lead a healthier life physically, mentally and emotionally.
‘I also love to inspire others on my Instagram page @littleaudrey.
‘Losing weight doesn’t automatically make you happy, but I’m now able to identify and work on those areas in my life.
‘Since becoming vegan, I’ve learned it’s okay to have my own values and morals, even if they differ from the norm.
‘I’m now eating in a way that I’m proud of and proud to share, rather than those secret fast food binges.
‘I love food now, more than ever, but in a much healthier way.’
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