TWO morbidly obese sisters have lost an incredible 167kg in the last year after making a surgery pact together, and incredibly they’re still shrinking.
Annabelle Chiarello, 16, and her sister Anastasia, 24 from Montaray, NSW, both battled with the bulge their entire lives, with the teenager wearing 7XL shirts at her heaviest and her sister squeezing into a size 26.
The incredibly close siblings grew up gorging on giant portions of pasta and bread, and snacked on family blocks of chocolate, causing their waistlines to stretch to huge proportions.
At just 13, Belle tipped the scales at 248kg. Doctors warned she needed to lose weight or die, and recommended having a gastric sleeve (VSG) fitted.
The sisters have struggled with weight their whole lives.
Annabelle and Anastasia before the surgery.
When the young teen was scared about having the procedure, loving sister Anastasia stepped in and made a pact to have the surgery too in a bid to encourage Belle.
The teenager went under the knife in Oct. last year, just three months after Anastasia, who weighed 165kg at the time of her surgery.
Now the sisters have lost a combined 167kg but are continuing to shrink together, and are determined to fight their flab for good.
Annabelle and Anastasia pictured with their parents before the surgery.
Annabelle and Anastasia still have a way to go, but are already different women a year after surgery. Picture: Caters NewsSource:Caters News Agency
Belle said: “My whole family loves food so it’s always been a big part of my life.
“I’d eat all day every day and never knew what hunger felt like.
“Even in baby photos I was really big, but Anastasia was too and so were other family members, so it made it okay.
“When our parents split up, Ana and I turned to food to help with the pain of their break up.
“It was only when my doctor said I would die if I didn’t lose weight that I realised how bad my situation was.”
The teenager was advised to have VSG surgery, but was overwhelmed because of her young age.
She said: “I didn’t like the idea of being put to sleep and having surgeons cut into me.
“Mostly, I was scared of what life would be like after.
“I knew I’d have to live on a diet of pureed foods for months and my eating habits would be affected for the rest of my life.
“I was only 13 so it seemed like a huge commitment. That’s when Ana stepped in and offered to go first, to reassure me it would be okay.
“She too had been struggling with her weight although she wasn’t as big as I was. I was so relieved I wouldn’t have to go through it alone.”
The sisters have been incredibly close since their parents split, with Belle even moving in with her elder sister.
Ana said: “We’ve both always struggled with our weight, but watching Belle balloon at such a young age was concerning.
“By the time she was 13, she was pushing the 200kg mark and I was extremely worried about her.
“But food was our go-to to help cope with the fact our parents were splitting up and whenever we tried to eat healthier, we’d always go back to our carb loving ways.
“When the doctor told her to lose weight or die, I knew I had to support her any way I could. Offering to have surgery with her was an easy decision. Plus, I needed help too.”
The girls with some of their old clothes.
Belle and Ana had lived on similar diets, of huge portions of pasta and bread, and lots of chocolate.
“Looking back at what I used to eat and it wasn’t all bad. I was just eating way too much of it,” said Annabelle.
“I’d eat about three big bowls of cereal for brekkie, then would have two or three sandwiches for lunch. At home, I’d devour bowls of pasta for dinner and would snack on chips and chocolate in between.
“I knew I was big, but I didn’t realise how bad it was because I was surrounded by people who were all big too. But I was wearing 7XL men tops and shorts with elasticated waists. I was the size of a burly man.”
Belle — who was bullied her whole life because of her size — knew surgery was the only option.
She said: “I tried diets a couple of times growing up, but I had no will power. I didn’t know how to say no.
“My mum Vicki had to draw on her super to pay for my $10,000 surgery, which was at a discounted rate because my surgeon was desperate to help me. Then Ana paid for hers through her own super.”
Back when this dress still fitted Anastasia.
Anastasia now, pictured with an old dress.
Thanks to their pact to support one another, Ana went first, having her VSG fitted in July last year.
Belle said: “Seeing Ana go through the surgery first was a huge help.
“We’d be at home and I’d see the small pureed meals she’d be eating and realised she was doing fine.
“It gave me the confidence I needed to have my operation without worrying about how I’d cope or what life would be like.”
Within weeks of having the operation, which Belle had in October 2015, the obese teen began to lose weight, much to Ana’s relief.
“I’d already lost about 20kg by the time Belle had her surgery, so she was feeling pretty confident,” said Ana.
“Back home I was able to support her through the puree stage, which was tough. She’d never experienced hunger before. But I was right there with her, telling her she’d get through it.”
On their slimming missions together, the sisters swapped their huge pasta dinners for healthier options like salads and wraps.
Belle said: Belle said: “At first it was tough, but with both of us on the same diet, it made things bearable. The worst part was I missed food. I was used to eating so much before, now my portions were tiny and I felt full quickly. But as the weight came off, I knew skipping my favourite foods was worth it.
“I’d been struggling to walk very far before my surgery, but I noticed a huge difference in my energy levels. I even started going to the gym.”
Belle (right) has now lost 90kg and Anastasia (left) has lost 77kg.
In the last year since their surgery, Belle and Anastasia have shed a combined 167kg and continue to lose more weight every day.
Belle said: “I’ve lost 90kg now and am happier than I ever imagined. I know I’ve still got a long way to go, but for once there’s hope on the horizon.
“Anastasia is doing amazing too, and she’s lost 77kg, and is wearing a size 14.
“I’m still in 2XL men’s clothes and am looking forward to the day I can go shopping and buy something fashionable.
“I can’t thank my sister enough for helping me to finally lose the weight. Together, we’re unstoppable.”