It’s no secret that while it’s hard to lose weight, it’s even harder to keep it off. That’s certainly true for Alana Faulk, who lost 20 stone after being fitted with a gastric band, only to regain almost all of it.
Doctors had initially deemed Alana, then 41 stone, an unfit candidate for gastric surgery, but that changed after a wake-up call in the form of getting trapped in the toilets at her local GPs and having to be freed by firefighters.
The nightclub owner from Detroit, Michigan, has always struggled with her size.
“The lifestyle was a lot of drink and greasy food,” she said.
“But gradually I began to wonder what sort of toll it was taking on my body. I loved to dance the night away but it wasn't as easy as it once had been.
“I loved calorie-packed drinks and late-night greasy snacks but they took their toll on my waistline.
“When I couldn’t do up my size 66 jeans, I just bought one bigger size after another.
“By early 2000 I was seriously worried about my weight.”
It was then that Alana stepped onto the scales for the first time in years – to discover she’d reached 41 stone.
The surgery even had to use freight scales, traditionally used for weighing packages.
“On my way out of the surgery I went to the loo. When I locked the door, I slipped and fell,” she said.
She was unable to get up or move out of the way so anyone else could get in.
“After half an hour, the surgery called the fire brigade.
“Five firefighters managed to break in and get me out. I felt so ashamed.”
This was the eye-opener her doctor needed, and a few months later she underwent a successful gastric band operation.
The weight quickly began to fall off, and in just a year, Ms Faulk had lost more than 20 stone.
“Friends barely recognised me and I felt fabulous,” she said.
But her battle with her weight was far from over.
“At first I couldn't even consider eating a cheeseburger,” she remembers.
“But then, after about five years, I discovered I could eat more and drink more.”
It was the beginning of a slippery slope.
Old habits die hard, and Alana quickly reverted to her previous unhealthy diet and began putting on all the weight she had lost.
By 2010 she weighed 35 stone, but didn’t do anything about it until the following year, when another fall – this time on her driveway - gave her the nudge she so desperately needed.
She said: “I was so hefty I couldn’t move. I felt like a beached whale and because I was so ashamed I didn't call for anyone to help me.
“Instead I crawled to the front door myself.
“I was so exhausted I slept on the hall floor for an hour.
“I knew this was my lowest point. I knew I had to change myself. Or die.”
Alana realised if she wanted to shift the weight for good, needed to lose weight the old-fashioned way - healthy-eating and exercise.
She ditched the junk food and alcohol and began living on salads and diet drinks.
“It hasn't been easy, but I am moving in the right direction,” she said.
“I'm now 20 stone and I have so much more energy. I'm half the woman I used to be but I've never felt more whole.
“I’ve quit drinking completely, which was difficult because I still owned a bar.”
And it’s not just her waistline that’s seen a transformation – she’s also gone back to college.
“I’ve stared every discrimination in the eye and vanquished it,” she said.
“I’ve completely turned my life around.”
Alana has kept a blog, Pick a Struggle Cupcake, about her experiences.
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