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"Stuck in fat jail" is how Charmaine Ngarimu describes her life before going under the knife three years ago.
The now pint-sized corporate had her stomach stapled in May 2014, a procedure that's literally changed her from the inside out.
"It got to the point where I was over a 100kg and I'm only 5'2", that's just far too much, and it's technically classed as morbidly obese. And I don't think anyone ever wants to hear those words".
Before the op she weighed in at 107kg - she's now lost nearly half her body weight, weighing in at around 57kg.
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Ms Ngarimu didn't qualify for surgery in the public health system, so she took out a loan to cover the $17,000 operation.
More than 1000 bariatric operations are done in NZ every year. About 400 of those are in the public system, and the rest are done privately. Ms Ngarimu says for her, it's been worth every cent.
Ms Ngarimu works at her new lifestyle every day, from preparing her meals and portion sizes to exercising regularly. This month she even completed her longest run to date - the 12km Traverse race over the Harbour Bridge in the Auckland Marathon.
"I've always got to have goals, because that's really important to me, having goals to work towards now, because otherwise I could end up back in that situation, as anyone could".
Ms Ngarimu wants to remove the stigma that continues to plague weight loss surgeries, and wants others to see this pathway as an option to get their health back.
For her, the surgery has been worth every penny.