26-year-old Michelle Bakal says she was bullied because of her weight and it led her to become a heroin addict and binge eater.
The formerly obese woman revealed how she overcame those obstacles and lost half of her body weight. She now weighs 189lbs (13st) and had 10lbs of excess skin removed.
Michelle has also discovered a new passion for fitness after struggling to walk even for short distances.
“I’ve been overweight since I was a child and I remember seeing the doctor at a young age and hearing that I was heavier than I should be,” she shared.
“I didn’t think it was a problem until school started and I felt like I didn’t fit into how everyone else looked. I became aware that not only was I heavier, but substantially taller than all the other girls. I felt like my body wasn’t normal.
“In school, people would call me names and say fat jokes. I would walk down the hall and boys would yell “watch out!” as I was minding my own business.
“At my largest I did absolutely no exercise. The most I could do was to walk a short distance, but even that was difficult.”
She went on: “I started using drugs at 16, starting with marijuana. That progressed to whatever was offered to me. How I got onto heroin was a prescription to opiates by my doctor. Feeling as amazing as it did, heroin was just the next step – especially when I would run out of my prescription.
“Once that line was crossed, there was no turning back.”
Her weight increased to 379lbs. But when she reached 21, she decided to turn her life around.
“I got sober in 2014 off heroin and all mood-altering substances. It was about a year into my sobriety when I realised that I had been using food my entire life to fill an emotional void. So, if I could get clean off drugs and alcohol then I could lose the weight too. That was the turning point,” she expressed.
“My first step was going to an eating disorder clinic,” she recalled. “I realised that I could not eat for long periods of time and then binge on food to the point of feeling physically ill.
“When I found this out, I wanted to lose the weight for myself – it wasn’t for anyone else, which I think was important.
“As I started to notice the weight falling off, it felt surreal and I wasn’t expecting it. But at the same time, I felt like this time would be different because I wasn’t trying to lose weight to impress someone else. It was for me and me alone.”
Michelle now goes to the gym regularly and hikes up mountains with her 23-year-old husband Zachary.
“These are things that I could never do when I weighed 379lbs (27 stone) because my mobility was next to nothing,” she added.
This year, surgeons removed ten pounds of excess skin, adding to her amazing transformation.
“I am still recovering from surgery, so I don’t really recognise myself physically quite yet. Emotionally, I feel like I have a better handle at life and how to deal with things now because before I would just bury my emotions with drugs and food,” Michelle expressed.
“Now, I weigh everything I eat – which sounds more annoying than it is but it’s quite simple once you get the hang of it.
“I have a greater understanding of what kind of proteins, fats and carbohydrates I need to put into my body based on my energy expenditure.”
She added: “If I can do it, anyone can. Five years ago, I was a 379lb (27-stone) heroin user but then I got sober, lost weight and learned to love myself again.”
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