A Kiwi blogger exhausted by losing and gaining 50kg has decided to share her dramatic weight loss surgery journey with the world.
Ariana Omipi told Newshub on Wednesday the eye-opening point came when she was sitting on the couch with her partner.
"My boyfriend and I were eating dinner, a healthy dinner we'd prepared together, and I had already served myself twice as much as him, and finished it. Meanwhile, he was struggling to finish his plate.
"When I asked him what was for dessert, he said, 'Are you serious?'" she recalled. "He said, 'I can't figure out if you're joking.' But I was seriously hungry. That's when I realised something was wrong."
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The Auckland blogger gained a following on social media after losing an impressive 50kg in about seven months, through a ketogenic diet and adopting a new exercise regime. While her 25,000 followers on Facebook and 6000 followers on Instagram were inspired, Omipi was facing the struggle that comes with extreme weight loss.
"Within the last five years, I have lost, maintained, gained, lost and gained weight. This has been exhausting, physically and emotionally," she wrote on Facebook.
Omipi, 23, decided it was time for a change and made the costly decision to have gastric sleeve surgery. The keyhole surgery shrinks the size of the stomach from a sac to a narrow tube. About 80 percent of the stomach is removed, meaning the patient feels fuller after eating - much fuller.
Omipi says post-surgery, her stomach can hold around 100ml of liquid at a time. That will expand as time goes on, but not by much. It's a dramatic move, but she says it's going to remove some of the control food had over her life.
Omipi says she's excited to focus more on her relationships, lifestyle and overall happiness, instead of constantly thinking about weight loss and gain.
"A huge part of the surgery for me is to be in a stable place with weight and food," she said. "Long term, I've fluctuated with my weight through my entire life. I want it to be manageable without taking an overwhelming amount of focus. Especially at that point when it's all you can think about."
That's the result of a dramatic drop in ghrelin, the hunger hormone, which is removed along with the stomach space. "Everyone's heard of women being 'hangry' and it's extreme enough," Omipi pointed out. "When it's controlling your life, it's too much."
"My shopping bill was crazy - I lived by myself [and] I was spending up to $700 a week on groceries. They were healthy foods which are expensive, but just so much of them."
Luckily on "the lower end of the [weight] spectrum", Omipi was booked in for the surgery fairly quickly. But for those thinking it's an easy weight loss option, or with only five or ten kilograms to lose, she wants you to reconsider.
Preparation involves weeks of a liquid and vegetable only diet, and the reality of recovery isn't pretty, as seen in a post Omipi put on social media. It will be months before she can eat a regular, albeit small, meal again.
"I know there's complications and I want people to realise it isn't a decision that's made lightly," she said.
The recovery won't be easy, but it will be honest, as Omipi intends to keep sharing the ups and downs with her loyal followers.