Diet & Nutrition

Simone lost more than half her body weight, and a devastating attack on a night out almost changed everything

It would be humiliating but I'd run out of options.

By Lauren Irvine

Simone Anderson shares her real life story:

WARNING: The following story contains descriptions of gang rape, which may be triggering to readers.
Rushing to work, I stopped at the bakery to grab a beef pie and cinnamon doughnut for breakfast.
One day I'll remember to pack my own brekkie, I thought.
At 23, I was interning at a jewellery factory. As soon as I'd scoffed down breakfast, my thoughts turned to lunch. I'd been obsessed with food for as long as I could remember. It gave me comfort and made me happy.
I'd stopped weighing myself two years earlier when I tipped the scales at 140kg.
I'd gone up a few clothing sizes since then, to size 28, but had no idea how much weight I'd gained.
I couldn't keep turning a blind eye to my ballooning body.
The factory had a large set of industrial scales downstairs so I snuck down one lunchtime, took a deep breath and stepped on.
I almost fainted when I read the figure – 169kg.
Exercise helped me lose weight and get healthier. Pictures exclusive to Take 5
How had I let this happen?
I had visions of becoming so obese I'd be trapped in my bedroom, unable to fit through the door. I spent days desperately mulling over what to do.
Then I had an idea.
It would be horrendous and humiliating. I wondered if I'd be brave enough.
That evening I took a full-length selfie in just my bra and leggings. I cringed when I saw it.
Next I logged on to Facebook, took a deep breath and posted it up. Alongside it, I made a public pledge to finally lose weight and called it Simone's Journey to Health.
"There's no turning back now that it's public," I said to Mum.
My diet had been mainly hot chips, pies and sweets so I made a rule that I couldn't eat anything out of a packet. I got rid of all the junk food in my pantry and restocked with lean meat, fruit and vegies.
I'm now a size 12.Pictures exclusive to Take 5
I started exercising gently, swimming every day to get my body moving. Once I'd shed a few kilos, I felt confident enough to start going for short walks, too.
In two months, I lost 20kg but was constantly hungry so I had gastric sleeve surgery to shrink my stomach.
It was gruelling but the effects were immediate. Each week the number on the scales dropped and my social media following increased.
When I hit 100kg, I treated myself by going skydiving and pledged to do a half marathon!
When I started my challenge, I weighed 169kg. Pictures exclusive to Take 5
For the first time in years, I could actually wear pretty dresses that hugged my curves. One night, I put on a sexy new number and headed out for a girl's night.
After an evening of drinks and dancing, I decided it was time to head home but I couldn't find my friends.
Some guys came over and told me about a party they were headed to.
"Why don't you come and join us?" one of them offered.
I'd had a bit to drink and wasn't used to attention from men, so I went along.
But when we arrived, there wasn't a party. The five guys took hold of me, stripped off my dress and raped me. I screamed for them to stop, but they covered my mouth as one of them laughed, saying, "You want it, bitch!"
When they finally let me go, I walked home shoeless and bleeding and confided in a girlfriend about what had happened. She told me it wasn't my fault and that I should report it, but deep down I blamed myself.
The way I coped was by focusing on my health.
My story went viral and a US surgeon offered to remove my excess flesh for free. Pictures exclusive to Take 5
Soon I'd lost 90kg – more than half my body weight. At 79kg, I had rolls of excess skin cascading down my body.
My boobs were drooping to my hips and my face was sunken in.
I lacked confidence, but I forced myself to stand in front of the mirror, tuck my tummy skin into two pairs of underwear and tell myself I was beautiful.
Me and Trent. Pictures exclusive to Take 5
I couldn't believe it when my Facebook following hit 100,000. My story went viral and a US surgeon contacted me, offering to remove the excess flesh for free.
"Book me in!" I cried, overcome by his generosity.
I flew over and underwent an 11-hour surgery. I woke up in so much pain, but so relieved.
A few months later, I met my partner Trent and my energy levels are higher than ever.
When I look back at old photos of myself, I see a completely different person.
I've written a book hoping it will inspire other women. Pictures exclusive to Take 5
I've now written a book hoping it will inspire other women never to give up hope.
When I stood on those factory scales, I could never have dreamt that I would be wearing a size 12 one day.
The path has been far from easy – at times I nearly lost hope.
But I'm proof that it is possible to turn your life around, and it's so worth it.
Journey to Health by Simone Anderson is $29.99 from Allen & Unwin.
Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia provides 24/7 telephone and online crisis counselling for anyone anyone - women and men - in Australia who has experienced or is at risk of sexual assault, family or domestic violence and their non offending supporters.
Phone NSW Rape Crisis on: 1800 424 017

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