By Rebekah Scanlan
An obese nurse who was so big she had to wear 5XL scrubs, has lost an incredible 70KILOS (11STONE) after being left red-faced when patients made comments about her size.
Vanessa De Bartolo, 28, from Ferntree Gully, Victoria (Australia) weighed 152kgs (24st) at her heaviest and was a size 26, thanks to a diet laden with fast food and fizzy drinks.
At 18 she began training to become a nurse and got a part-time job in Macca’s, where she ballooned eating the fatty burgers and fries throughout her shifts.
By the time she landed her first job, she was too big to fit into the standard nursing scrubs and had to order them in 5XL online to fit over her bulging frame.
It was only when she was forced to wear a seatbelt extension on a plane because of her size and was continually humiliated by her patients who made cruel comments about her weight, that she was finally motivated to change.
After joining her local Fernwood Fitness and cutting junk from her diet, she’s spent the last six-years losing a huge 70kgs (11stone) naturally, and has slimmed to a svelte size 12.
Vanessa said: “It was tough being a nurse that was extremely overweight.
“My patients would often look at me funny or question if I was qualified to be giving health advice, considering I had my own obvious issues.
“I was even called ‘fat’ by a few people I was trying to help and it was really disheartening.
“I knew I ate way more food than I should but I’d just shrug off the mean remarks and eat more.
“Even though I’d always been ‘bigger’ as a kid, my issue with food had really spiralled when I got a part-time job at Macca’s whilst studying.
“I’d graze on the greasy burgers and fries throughout my shift and guzzled heaps of Coke. If I closed up at night, I’d even take a few Big Mac’s home.
“By the time I qualified, I was a size 26 and was riddled with health issues. I knew I couldn’t go on any longer.”
At the height of her issues with food, Vanessa confesses to sneaking out at night to get her greasy fix.
She said: “For me it was all about fast-food, I just loved it.
“I’d go home after a shift and eat dinner with my family, then I’d make up an excuse to go out just so I could grab a Macca’s or some other sort of junk.
“I also loved fizzy drinks and could easily get through two to three litres a day.
“I was out of control and had no will power.
“I knew it wasn’t good for me, and tried numerous times to stop and trued every diet imaginable.
“But no matter how much I lost, I always put the weight back on. It was a vicious cycle.”
Things only took a dramatic turn for the young healthcare professional when she was called out on the suitability to be giving health advice.
Vanessa said: “There was no denying I was unhealthy and overweight.
“I had to order 5XL scrubs as regular ones didn’t fit and just walking from one side of the hospital to the other left me breathless.
“If ever I was advising a patient about their nutrition, I could always see their eyebrows raise in disbelief.
“One even asked me how I could be qualified to give advice when I clearly didn’t follow it myself.
“It hurt and eventually, I realised I needed to do something about it. That’s when I joined the gym and decided I had to change.”
After becoming a member of her local Fernwood Fitness, Vanessa made changes to her diet and introduced regular exercise.
She said: “The first thing to go was fast food and fizzy drinks. To be honest, I was devastated.
“I was undoubtedly addicted to food and found it really hard not to eat to begin with.
“But remembering the words of my patients kept me motivated. I knew I needed to be healthy for them and to be a good role model.
“Without any aids like pills, shakes or even surgery, weight loss for me was slow – but it was steady.
“In a year I lost 25kgs (4st) and was feeling great, so I kept pushing forwards.”
Now Vanessa has lost 70kgs (11st) after shrinking from 152kgs (24st) to 82kgs (12st 9), and wears size M scrubs to work, which has left her feeling completely at ease around her patients.
She said: “Before, I was embarrassed to talk to people about their diet. Now, I’ve never been better placed to help people as I know what it’s like.
“My cravings for food still come and go, but I’ve learnt to control them and I feel better than ever as a result.”
She added: “My weight loss has left me with some saggy skin, but because my weight loss was slow and steady, it’s really not too bad.
“I got engaged recently to my partner of four years, Nick, and am hoping to walk down the aisle in a size 10 wedding gown.
“Being healthy has made me a better nurse and a happier person. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.”
Breakfast – McDonalds/Hungry Jacks (Burger King UK/US) meal or toasted ham and cheese sandwich
Lunch and dinner – Homemade pasta or chicken schnitzel served with potatoes, salad and bread
Snacks – Fruits, cheese, crackers, chips/crisps, chocolate
Drinks – 2 litres of Coke
Supper – Takeaway Maccas late at night
Breakfast – Oats or eggs on toast
Lunch and dinner – Protein with veggies and salad. Sometimes adds small portion of brown rice
Snacks – Veggies and hommus, boiled egg, protein shake
Drinks – Water