Before her gastric sleeve surgery in August last year, mum of three Donna Marshall was borderline diabetic with high blood pressure and a rapid pulse rate.
At 145kg and a size 26, the Berkeley woman had tried fad diets, joined a gym and would try to live on weight-loss shakes alone for long periods. The costs of dieting and blood pressure medication piled up, along with her weight.
Reflecting on her experience, Marshall says it's important that obesity is recognised as an eating disorder, just as anorexia is.
"You're so used to eating huge amounts," she says, adding that she was sporty and fit in her youth.
"Everything on your mind is food.
"It's an addiction - it's a disorder and it's something that's life-long.
"Looking at my photos now it makes me sad and I think 'why didn't anyone tell me I needed help?"'
Now 36, Marshall seems a relieved and content woman, full of energy and laughter. She no longer needs blood pressure medication, she goes to the gym regularly ("I used to be scared I'd fall over or break the machines") and has a personal trainer.
She has a triumphant smile from ear to ear when she tells of how two weeks ago she managed to run with her kids and husband during a walk around Lake Illawarra.
And she laughs when she says highlights of her upcoming trip to Thailand will be to ride an elephant and sit in an ordinary plane seat without extension belts.
"I didn't want to get on an elephant before because I'd feel so bad, thinking it's cruel to make it carry 145 kilos," she says.
Marshall says she is not ashamed to admit she's had weight loss surgery. She likes sharing her story, to urge others that it's possible to be happier, regain an active lifestyle, save money on medication and food and - most importantly - live longer.
"To be honest, if I didn't lose any more weight I'd still be happy," she says.
"I'm feeling happier and healthier.
"I know what my limits are and I know I'm going to survive.
"Now, I have so much energy I can run rings around the shopping centres."
Which Marshall quite often has to do, buying new clothes to keep up with her plummeting dress sizes. At 105kg, she is now down to a size 14, with the ultimate aim of getting to 78kg.
"Every time I get dressed I like what I see now," she says.
"The whole grocery bill for the family has been cut in half, just because of me."