WHEN Kirby McGregor was told that her obesity was causing swelling on her brain that could erupt into an aneurysm at any time, she knew she had to make a change.
The 28-year-old Brisbane travel agent, who grew up in Noosa, has become an internet sensation after losing a massive 46kg in six months.
Last year, Ms McGregor weighed in at 145kg with a Body Mass Index rating of 40-plus-the highest possible category-and her burgeoning health problems had become cause for alarm.
Her gallbladder had already been removed several years before, and the swelling on the brain prompted gastric sleeve surgery in August last year.
The surgery involved removing more than half of her stomach to reduce appetite.
"I'm only 28, so it's a life-changing decision at that age," Ms McGregor said.
It was a turning point for Ms McGregor, but first she had to overcome months of post-surgery recovery.
"People say it's the easy way out, because you're getting surgery, but they have no idea," she said.
"I was in pain and vomiting constantly.
"The first six weeks was hell, to put it lightly."
She could only consume liquids for the first two weeks, and was slowly weaned onto purees, then solid foods.
Once recovered, she was determined to make the most of her chance at a normal life, with regular exercise and a vegetable-based diet.
"Even now, six months in, I'm only having a few bites of food here and there," Ms McGregor said.
"Because you're not getting a lot of food in, you have to make sure you're eating the right foods.
"To get told you could die at 27 years old, that kind of scared me straight."
The swelling on Ms McGregor's brain has eased completely, and she aims to lose about another 20kg or until she feels "comfortable".
She said she had battled her weight and the "demons" that came with it all her life, but now hopes her story, which has been shared on media outlets across the globe, will inspire others to make a change.
"I know what it's like to be that overweight kid," she said.
"Now I've completely changed; I don't have those demons inside me any more.
"I'm so much happier and healthier, and now I can live a long life."
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