Woman's incredible 115kg transformation
TWO YEARS ago, Elle Gooddall was a very different person.
"My whole life was based around food," she tells Kidspot. "I didn't do any physical activity at all. There were times when I tried - I knew I needed to lose weight - but it never lasted very long."
At her heaviest, Elle weighed 184 kilograms.
"I ate McDonalds and KFC three meals a day and it wasn't just one meal for each sitting - it was about three."
The now 29-year-old had diabetes and sleep apnoea. Doctors told her she wouldn't live past 40 if she continued with her unhealthy lifestyle.
Elle knew she would have to do something drastic, but when her doctor mentioned a gastric sleeve, she was resistant at first.
"I wasn't keen on surgery," she said. "I'd never had surgery in my life and the thought scared me.
"With a gastric sleeve they cut out and remove half your stomach so what's left is quite small."
Elle first tried to lose weight on her own, but wasn't able to, and in the end decided to have surgery.
In preparation, she went on a shake diet to lose fat around her liver, saw a dietitian and psychologist too - to make sure she was mentally prepared.
"When food is your life, mentally you need to be able to cope. This thing you rely on is being taken away. That's what the surgery is; it makes it so you can't eat anymore," she says.
It took Elle a year and a half to lose 115 kilograms.
"It was quick, quicker that most people because of the changes I made along with surgery," Elle said.
"Four weeks after surgery my doctor cleared me to exercise. I started working out, walking on the treadmill, doing weights."
Elle knew she didn't want to slip back into her old life, but it wasn't easy.
"I was the worst person to be around. I was so angry. I'd throw things across the room if my husband told me I couldn't have food," she said.
"Eventually I started to learn about food and the amazing flavours you can get out of eating healthy. I started making my own soups, experimenting with herbs and spices.
"The flavours were so much better than what I was getting from McDonalds."
Then one day she met a woman who had had the same gastric surgery.
"She'd put all the weight back on and then some. I told myself, 'That's not going to be me. I can't afford for this not to work,'" she says.
Cleaning up her eating and exercising for the sake of it wasn't enough for Elle.
"I wanted to do something drastic," she says. "I wanted to fall in love with something. I knew I wanted to find a sport, and because I used to be a swimmer, I thought swimming would have something to do with it."
One day she was at the lake and began talking with a stranger who had been training with the local triathlon club.
"I said to her, 'I wouldn't mind giving that a go, but I'm quite a big girl. It feels pretty extreme,'" she says.
The woman replied, "If you want to do triathlon, you will and you can."
She became Elle's coach. They set some short term goals with the ultimate goal to complete the Noosa triathlon. The distance is 1500 metre swim, 40 kilometre cycle and 10 kilometre run.
"I started training and I haven't looked back," she said.
Weight loss was Elle's motivation at first, but it quickly took second place to fitness as she began to love triathlon.
"I don't have a weight goal now. I don't weigh myself anymore, I'm not interested in that anymore," she says.
"My story isn't a weight loss story, it's a story of health and fitness. My goals are fitness goals. I want to get to the finish line of an iron man in December, and then get a position in Kona, which is the Hawaii world championship.
"It's going to mean a lot of hard, hard work, but I'm pretty determined."