By Jasmine Kazlauskas
A morbidly obese 23-year-old who never owned a bikini and feared she would ‘eat herself to death’ tried 15 yo-yo diets before shedding half her bodyweight in a YEAR – and now loves wearing crop tops.
Alicia Hooper, from Seattle, USA, was so gripped by an insatiable addiction to binge eating she would gorge on ice cream, cookies and burgers daily – ballooning to 120kg (18st 8lbs) and a dress size 22.
But the brunette beauty shed six dress sizes to a svelte size 10 after she lost a whopping 56kg (8st 8lbs) in a year thanks to gastric sleeve surgery which shrunk her stomach to a quarter of its previous size when 10 years of fad dieting failed.
Alicia, who before scoffed 5,000 calories a day and could only wear yoga leggings as nothing else would fit her, now loves shopping for tight-fitting denim jeans and crop-tops – and recently wore a bikini for the first time.
The determined social worker was in denial about her size until she underwent a physical examination with her GP and saw paperwork classifying her as morbidly obese.
Alicia said: “I would never feel full. My version of being full was feeling like my stomach was going to explode and being unable to move.
“I had an emotional attachment to food – I’d eat anything and everything.
“I’d go out and have giant Frappuccino’s and eat ice cream directly from the tub. I’d have cookie cough or eat straight up bread and cheese, and I’d eat at least three giant bowls of sugary cereal in one sitting.
“I always avoided mirrors and would try not to see reflections of myself because it would just depress me.
“The turning point for me was seeing my doctor’s paperwork describing me as morbidly obese.
“I was shocked. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing because I was in completely denial about my weight and I never realised how big I was.
“There isn’t anything after being morbidity obese. The next step is death. I knew I had to change but I couldn’t do it on my own.
“I had a severe addiction to food and a binge eating disorder. I also think obesity in my family is genetic.
“I needed a physical barrier to stop me from eating, so that’s when I considered having a gastric sleeve.
“I decided to just go for it, and it was the best decision I ever made.
“I had never owned a bikini or showed my midriff until I lost the weight, or wore jeans – I lived in yoga pants and leggings.
“Now I love wearing crop tops and wearing denim has been so nice – plus buying my first bikini was so exciting.
“I’m no longer ashamed to look in the mirror. When I catch my reflection I’m proud of what I see and where I’ve come.”
Alicia had ‘always been overweight’ ever since she was a child, and although she ‘thinned out’ when she was a teenager, she still battled the stigma of being ‘bigger than everyone else’.
After graduating high school and moving out of her family home, she battled depression and anxiety and began to pile on weight uncontrollably due to binging on ‘cheap and easy’ unhealthy food and being inactive.
Alicia was ‘in denial’ about her size and didn’t comprehend the severity of her weight problem until she oversaw her doctor’s paperwork class her as ‘morbidly obese’ – which ‘terrified’ her.
The social worker – who was also suffering from high cholesterol and sleep apnoea due to her weight – revealed that seeing her doctor’s dire classification was a critical ‘turning point’ which propelled her to make the life-changing decision to undergo gastric sleeve surgery in August 2016.
Alicia said: “I knew I was fat ever since it was introduced into my vocabulary as a small child. I was always a big girl.
“But then after high school I began to battle with some mental health issues and my weight just spiralled out of control.
“I wasn’t very active, and I was just eating anything that as cheap, quick and easy.
“I had always had a bad relationship with food. I’d sneak and hoard loads of food. It was an addiction.
“I probably tried yo-yo dieting at least 15 times, but I would always lose some weight and then gain it all back.
“Gaining so much weight made my mental health worse – you get stuck in a cycle of not being able to be active anymore and sinking deeper into depression.
“I knew the only way to break free was to do something drastic.”
Alicia lost an incredible 35kg (5st 5lbs) in the first six months after having the surgery, and the weight continued to melt off from there.
With 75 per cent of her stomach removed from the surgery, the young woman’s serving sizes reduced dramatically, which Alicia said repaired her relationship with food.
The inspirational young woman also works out for 90 minutes three times a week, which includes a challenging mix of weight training and cardio.
Now Alicia has swapped all her frumpy size 20-22 clothes and is more confident than ever flaunting her stunning new size 10 -12 figure.
And with 56kg (8st 8lbs) gone forever, Alicia said she is ‘happier and healthier’ than ever and feels comfortable in her own skin.
The surgery has even helped her reduce her weekly grocery shop, which has gone from $100 USD (£69) to just $40 USD (£27).
Alicia said: “I never could have lost the weight without the help of the gastric sleeve surgery.
“I would have gotten diabetes or eaten myself to death.
“The surgery completely transformed my life. My whole relationship with food has changed.
“I no longer crave unhealthy things, and even when I do indulge, I’m satisfied with a few bites.
“It’s so liberating to be free of my binge eating disorder and food addiction.
“The most rewarding thing for me is being able to inspire and motivate others who are trying to lose weight or are considering surgery.
“If I can do it, anyone can. You just need to believe in yourself and take back your life.”
Breakfast: Big bowl of cereal (300 calories) and a large Frappuccino drink from Starbucks (550 calories).
Snack: A breakfast sandwich (400 calories) and a cheese Danish (250 calories).
Lunch: Takeaway burger meal with chips and drink (1000 calories).
Snack: crackers, chips and cookies all throughout the day (700 calories).
Dinner: Giant pad Thai or pizza (1000 calories).
Dessert: Lots of sweets and ice cream throughout the night (800 calories).
Total calories: 5,000
Breakfast: Oatmeal and a banana (300 calories).
Snack: Vegetables and rice cakes or a protein shake (150 calories).
Lunch: Healthy chicken salad (400 calories).
Dinner: Lean white protein like chicken or fish with rice and vegetables (450 calories).
Dessert: Fruit (100 calories).
Total calories: 1,400