Gatton's big loser is the winner
LIFESTYLE programs challenging everyday Australians to lose weight are more popular than ever, but for Gatton businessman Clint Christison, the decision to lose weight was a matter of life and death.
"I would have died before I was 50, it is a scary conversation to have with your wife as a 42-year-old, making sure you have got your affairs in order so that your widow and kids are looked after when, not if, you die," Mr Christison said.
With his weight pushing out to 170kg, Mr Christison said despite the support of his wife Belinda, he was unable to shed the excess kilograms and realised he needed a permanent solution.
"We tried everything together, diets, pills, shakes, even acupuncture," Belinda Christison said.
"And they weren't faulty, as I managed to lose some weight, but Clint just couldn't keep the weight off permanently."
With Belinda resolved not to be a "nag wife", she said all she could do was support her husband.
"I was waking up in the middle of the night, to see if he was still alive.
"I was preparing myself to be a young widow, to bring up three children on my own."
Coming to the realisation Clint was a "comfort eater", Belinda said the stresses of the past three years had not made his situation any easier.
"The 2011 floods, where our office was devastated, along with much of Laidley, certainly did not help, but it was a combination of factors that contributed to where Clint was at."
By his own admission, Clint said he became a skilled "stealth eater", with very few people actually seeing him eat any food.
"I was ashamed to let people see me eat, so it would be slip into the drive through, and order a couple of burgers and fries, or I could eat a whole pie while driving without leaving even a single crumb on my clothes."
For Clint, a turning point came during a family holiday to Sydney when he cancelled a planned visit to Taronga Zoo, knowing he could not make the walk up and down the hilly terrain.
After "plenty" of research, Clint said, he settled on a gastric resection - having 90% of his stomach removed.
"People say to me that it was an extreme decision, but for me, it was the only option that would work."
Despite a "phobic" fear of surgery, Clint met with the doctor and, after discussing the risks, decided to book himself in.
"I was having coffee with a close friend, and he just said to me, stop delaying, go in and get it done, and I realised he was right, so I told Belinda I was getting it done, and we arranged it."
Despite nearly walking out on the day when there was a delay, Clint said the surgery was a success.
"I had to follow a strict regime post-op, to train my remaining stomach into accepting food gradually, but that went without a hitch, although the second phase of everything being pureed was tough, it tastes pretty bad."
Looking back, Clint said the decision was "the best of my life", with more than 50kg slipping off his frame since August.
"I retain the taste of food, that doesn't change, I just don't need as much, and you feel full much earlier, so you stop eating."
With increased energy, Clint said he was now able to exercise and was reaping the benefits.
"Everything is better, I am 43 in a couple of weeks, and I am now the smallest I have been in my adult life, since I was at high school, and I know I will still lose more weight before I stabilise.
"I am in awe of people who can lose weight unaided, but that was not me, so for me this was the only choice I could make - it was this or die, and I didn't want to die."
Realising food was everything in his life, Clint said he had now taken up some hobbies to help him live a normal life.
Acknowledging that weight is a very personal issue, Clint said he was happy to talk to anyone who was struggling with their own body issues.
"I just hope I can help one person, let them see there is a hope, and that they can do it.
"I want to be able to walk down the street and be proud of myself."