At her heaviest, travel agent, Doina Nicutescu, weighed 24 stone and wore size 26 clothing. Despite having visited over 50 countries in total, the 39-year-old’s size made flying a “complete nightmare”.
“I've always had that passion to travel but seeing the world as an obese person made the experience so much harder than it should have been,” she admitted.
“I could feel other passengers getting annoyed when I'd be seated next to them. One time, I was walking down the aisle to use the restroom and heard one person laugh and say, ‘I doubt she will even fit in there’.”
Nicutescu would always ask for a seatbelt extender but after one flight attendant left her feeling humiliated, she vowed never to request one again.
“The regular seat belts never fit around me, so I'd always have to ask for an extender,” Nicutescu explained. “Usually the flight attendants were discreet, but one time a woman yelled out 'here's your seatbelt!' and held it up for everyone to see as it unravelled.”
“I was so embarrassed and decided to just take it with me when I left the plane, so I'd never have to ask for it again,” she continued. “When I became too big to sit comfortably in economy seats, I decided to only fly in business class and save myself the anxiety.”
But the Sydney-based globe-trotter had tried several diets in the past yet struggled to keep the weight off.
“The hardest thing about being overweight is everyone assuming you're a total pig and always binging 24/7,” she said. “It wasn't like that at all, but I always felt like everyone was judging every bite I took.”
In a bid to shed the pounds once and for all, she sought help from a doctor and underwent gastric sleeve surgery in May, 2016.
It turned out to be a huge success, as she lost an incredible nine stone 6lbs in the first year alone - shedding the remaining two stone 7lbs over the course of the following year.
She later underwent a lower body lift, arm lift, breast lift and liposuction in order to combat any loose skin.
Now, Nicutescu has never been happier with her new figure finally helping her to embrace travel without the fear of being judged.
“My life has totally changed, and travelling has become an entirely different experience for me now,” Nicutescu said. “Since losing the weight, I've been to Hong Kong, Fiji, the Caribbean, Thailand, Malta, Portugal, Miami and Dubai.”
“I've done things I could never do before, like swimming in a bikini, going snorkelling and riding a camel,” she added. “It's been amazing.”