By Jasmine Kazlauskas
A 117kg (18st 4lbs) teen told she’d be dead within two years was nearly killed by her addiction to CARBS – but has dropped half her bodyweight in a stunning transformation.
Cassandra Hili was just 14 when doctors told her she would not live to attend her end of year school formal because her morbid obesity was causing dangerously high blood pressure and could have given her a fatal heart attack at any moment.
But the now-23-year-old – who binged on mountains of chips, toast and pasta daily – has shed 55kg (8st 6lbs) and six dress sizes to flaunt a new svelte size eight figure.
Cassandra, from Sydney, Australia, said: “Being told my weight would kill me was like being stabbed in the gut – it was such a painful thing to hear.
“My doctor took me aside and told me if I kept piling on weight I wouldn’t be alive to attend my year 10 formal.
“He said ‘you’re big, you’re heavy, you’re unhealthy – you could have a heart attack at any moment’.
“At that point I had lost faith and didn’t care anymore. I’d been going to the hospital nearly every week since I was eight years old because of my weight and I had just had enough.
“Not only had I given up on my body but my doctors had started giving up on me as well – they said there was nothing I could do because I didn’t want to help myself.
“I was so depressed I stopped taking care of myself. I wore the same thing every day because it was comfortable and I never went out and socialised because I hated my body.
“So when my doctor told me I’d be dead before my formal I just thought ‘oh well, I probably wouldn’t have gone anyway’.
Cassandra was diagnosed with insulin resistance as an eight-year-old after her parents became concerned about her rapid weight gain.
People suffering from this condition are likely to become obese and be diagnosed with type two diabetes because it makes it harder for sufferers to burn fat and lose weight.
But despite being told she could die, Cassandra said she was “too stubborn” to listen to anyone and wanted to have a normal life without visiting the hospital weekly.
So she began binging on unhealthy junk food such as chips daily – and by the age of 16 was tipping the scales at 117kg (18st 4lbs) and wearing a dress size 20 to 22.
Cassandra, who went to an all girl’s school, also revealed she was severely bullied by classmates over her obesity.
She said: “When I was younger, I never really had a problem with eating unhealthy food, I just had trouble with portion control and would always eat way too many carbs.
“Coming from an Italian and Maltese family, our house was always filled with delicious and gorgeous fresh food because it is so central to our culture.
“But after that doctor’s visit I just decided to give up and do what I wanted because I was sick of everyone always telling me what to do.
“Depression got the best of my and food became my safety net. I would eat loads of unhealthy junk food because I thought it would make me feel better.
“At school I was bullied every day – children would make fun of my weight and call me horrible names.
“The bigger I got, the more my uniform didn’t fit properly, and people started to notice.
“I struggled to even walk to the bus stop and people would ask me why I was so out of breath.”
Cassandra’s life-saving revelation came just before her 17th birthday when she was watching one of her favourite singers – Christina Aguilera – perform in the movie ‘Burlesque’.
She cut out junk food and switched sugary and carb-heavy foods for healthy protein, fruit and vegetables and began walking on a treadmill daily.
And over the next two years she lost almost half her bodyweight with her weight now fluctuating at between 62kg (9st 7lbs) and 67kg (10st 5lbs).
Now stunning Cassandra has ditched her frumpy size 22 clothes and is more confident than ever flaunting her size eight to 10 figure.
The 23-year-old, who runs PR agency Millennium Communications, said: “At the time of watching Burlesque my big dream was to be a professional singer and I was in love with the way Christina Aguilera performed and moved.
“I wanted to be her but I knew that would never happen because I was so obese. That was my lightbulb moment and after that I was determined to lose the weight.
“I worked really hard every day and just never gave up. I never could have achieved what I have today without losing the weight.
“My life has changed dramatically. I’m more confident, strong and determined than ever before.
“Although it was some of the worst times of my life, I’m thankful to have that experience as it has made me into the person I am today.
“As a kid I used to cry every night, praying that I’d wake up the next day beautiful and thin.
“Now I feel like that little girl is somewhere inside of me just saying ‘thank you’.”
CASSANDRA’S DAILY DIET: BEFORE (3,450 CALORIES)
Breakfast: Toast with butter and vegemite (350 calories).
Snack: A large muffin (500 calories).
Lunch: A sandwich with ice cream or chips (900 calories).
Snack: Packet of crisps or toast with olive oil (300 calories).
Dinner: Whatever her mum made – usually hearty Mediterranean dishes but large portions. (900 calories).
Dessert: Ice Cream with Milo (500 calories).
TOTAL: 3,450 calories.
CASSANDRA’S DAILY DIET: NOW (1,900 CALORIES)
Breakfast: Oats with nut butter and berries, a protein smoothie with berries, banana and nut butter or eggs on rye toast and avocado and a coffee (300 calories).
Snack: Fruit and handful of nuts or protein bar and fruit (250 calories).
Lunch: Salad with tuna, avocado and one slice of bread or protein with vegetables and brown rice (350 calories).
Snack: Coffee, apple and peanut butter (200 calories).
Dinner: Still whatever her mum makes, but now this is more likely to be baked chicken or poached fish with salad and a small portion of pasta, rice or a slice of bread (600 calories).
Dessert: Green tea and a few squares of dark chocolate (200 calories).