By Scott Thompson

THIS WOMAN loved to travel but her THIRTY STONE figure resulting from consuming up to 30,000 CALORIES A DAY meant she always needed to book TWO FLIGHT SEATS and was once even refused a ticket because the agent said she was TOO BIG – but she has since lost a staggering SEVENTEEN STONE.

Educator, Norma Dibrell (26) from Rio Grande Valley, Texas, USA spent the first 25 years of her life completely obsessed with food.

Whether it was a good day, or a bad day Norma would reward herself with as much as 30,000 calories a day consisting of three huge meals and four hefty snacks. At her largest she was 30st 8lb and a dress size 32.

Norma never blieved she’d find joy in things like jogging. MDWfeatures / Norma Dibrell

Because of her size Norma didn’t see any point in taking up any physical exercise. It wasn’t until she fell in love with travel that things started to change for her.

Norma had to book two flight seats as she was unable to fit in one and she couldn’t take part in the many fun activities that others do when travelling such as climbing or jumping off waterfalls or using the ziplines.

In December 2017 Norma had a gastric bypass after realising that being over 30st meant she wasn’t fitting into society and had to make some big changes to her life.

Through radically reducing her calorie intake and exercising at least five times a week, by December 2018 she had lost 17st 10lb and now weighs 12st 12lb and fits a much more comfortable dress size 12.

“For the first 25 years of my existence food was my coping mechanism. I was easily eating as much as 30,000 calories a day. Whether it was a good day or bad day I’d feel better through food. If my day was just ok, I’d spice it up with food. I just loved food and relied on it,” Norma said.

Norma has learned that she is very strong and capable. MDWfeatures / Norma Dibrel

“If I’m honest I still do love eating, but I allowed myself to splurge constantly then and because of my size, weight and priorities, I didn’t see intentional physical activity as an option or necessity.

“This is what I’d eat on a ‘bad’ day; at 6am a large venti caramel frappaccino, slice of iced lemon pound cake and an egg cheddar and bacon croissant. At 10am I’d have a snickers bar and hot Cheetos. At 1pm I’d have two leg quarters with a cup of rice and a large soda. At 3pm I’d eat a big bag of Doritos and 10 Oreos. At 5pm I’d eat a granola bar and drink another large soda. At 7pm I’d eat 20 chicken nuggets, a BigMac, hot n’ spicy chicken, large fries and another large soda. At 10pm I’d eat popcorn with pickles and chocolate covered almonds. I also had a drawer at work jam packed with snacks and I ate them mindlessly and endlessly. The snacks were nuts and chocolate covered nuts, crisps, candy bars and granola bars. This is just in one day and I didn’t really exercise.

“I used to struggle a lot. Especially with travel. I needed to buy two plane seats, I couldn’t use the ziplines, I couldn’t climb or surf, I couldn’t jump off waterfalls, I couldn’t go on roller coasters, I couldn’t wear heels or boots or the nice clothes I wanted to. I couldn’t even leave a room without carefully considering if I’d fit through the exit before trying. I was also always so tired after really short walks.

“The list just goes on. All this was because of my weight and size. One time I was even refused travel because the agent told me I wouldn’t fit in the seats and they wouldn’t let me buy a second seat. I was so embarrassed.

Getting into her car was a struggle. MDWfeatures / Norma Dibrel.

“In December 2017 I had gastric bypass surgery and from there I followed my surgeon, dietician and psychiatrist who gave me clear recommendations.

“Now for breakfast I might have a protein shake. Lunch is typically tuna and cucumber or turkey slices and cheese. For dinner a different protein and more veggies like ground turkey zucchini boats, bunless lean cheeseburger or spaghetti squash with turkey meatballs. For snacks I’ll have one of these; jerky, yogurt with berries, pork rind or fruit. Now I exercise on a treadmill or go walking or jogging outdoors five times a week and cover 10,000 steps a day. I now eat about 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day.”

Although people are amazed at Norma’s complete transformation, she admits that it is still difficult on a daily basis because she still had an unhealthy relationship with foods.

“People are generally completely stunned when they see me now. They don’t even recognise me anymore,” Norma continued.

“I think the hardest thing about this journey has been feeling I had to change myself to fit into this world. Boys seem to like me better now that I’ve lost weight, but then people did used to say I’d be prettier if I lost it.

Norma before and after. MDWfeatures / Norma Dibrell

“I’m still obsessed with food so I still find it difficult it’s still a huge part of my life but I eat differently to be healthier. I now eat foods that fuel me instead of destroy me.

“It’s unfortunate that size dictates social value and aesthetics so much, but that’s the truth and people tell me I look good now, as if I looked bad before.

“Apart from feeling like I now conform to societal norms, I feel I am very strong and capable. I committed to this lifelong lifestyle and it’s completely changed my life. I’m working on my mental health, my relationship with food and educating myself about food.

“I’ve increased physical activity a lot and even found joy in crazy things like jogging. Imagine that? I now only need one plane seat with no seatbelt extensions, and I can buy clothes almost anywhere I please. It’s a very different existence to anything I lived before.”

Norma gives others advice on how they can lose weight too.

“You really do need to be ready for this journey. You need to really want this for yourself and nobody else,” she said.

“You need to understand that this is a lifelong commitment and lifestyle you’re accepting. If you’re not ready, want a quick fix or are doing it for someone else, you may put on even more weight in the end and not be fully invested.”

Here is a link to Norma’s Instagram.