A YEAR and a half ago, Jason Templeman was binge-eating himself to death.

Weighing in at 225kg, the Queenslander had given up on life and would climb into bed praying that he wouldn't wake up the next day. He had even written a letter to his parents telling them not to grieve because he was ready to go.

He nearly got his wish. After suffering from a massive heart attack brought on by undiagnosed type 2 diabetes, his cardiac surgeon gave him a shocking ultimatum: Change your lifestyle or die. He was 38 years old.

As a child, Jason, from Bundaberg, said he loved cycling, playing rugby league and his mum's cooking. "Meal time consisted of meat and three veg," he said. "There weren't many fast food places, and a visit to Maccas was a treat."

But in his late teens, he lost control of his weight.

"I was working as a baker. Snacking on pies and cakes was an occupational hazard. I also got the taste for Bundaberg's famous rum and coke, and beer. I didn't even notice the weight pile on."

Jason Templeman’s weight had ballooned to 225kg when he had a heart attack at the age of 38.
Jason Templeman’s weight had ballooned to 225kg when he had a heart attack at the age of 38.

 

Jason’s diet before losing the weight consisted of junk food and alcohol.
Jason’s diet before losing the weight consisted of junk food and alcohol.

 

Then his beloved grandparents died and he sunk into a deep depression. "I wasn't ready to deal with it and turned to food for comfort. Sugary foods gave my brain the pep up it needed. I'd spend $150 every week on chocolate and lived on KFC and McDonald's. I'd think nothing of scoffing a couple of pies and sausage rolls, a cream bun and chocolate milk but I'd still be hungry," he said.

By the time he was 25, he was 150kg.

His mates started calling him Triple J because one J wasn't enough for Big Jason. But despite presenting himself as a happy larrikin, the barbs hurt.

"I put on a front that I was always happy, ready with a joke but inside I was miserable. I had to take the mickey out of myself before someone else did."

His weight crept up until the scales hit 225kg.

"I hated the way I looked and the stares from strangers. I felt excluded and wouldn't get invited to weddings and parties. One time my mates were going to a barbecue with some girls, and I said I was keen. One mate said, 'It's at the beach, so it's probably not the best fit for you.'"

Aged 30, Jason had to give up baking and isolated himself to his home.

"My weight wrecked my ankles, knees, legs and back. Breathing was difficult, and I'd sweat profusely. Not having a purpose in life was crushing. I was in a dark place. Junk food and chocolate were my only comfort. The rush I'd get from the sugar high would momentarily take away the pain and the dark thoughts of self-harm, but then they'd be back with a vengeance, and I'd have to eat again," he said.

Rather than deal with his issues, death felt as if it was the only way out.

"I knew something was wrong six months before the heart attack, but I'd refused to go to the doctors."

It was a no-nonsense Russian cardiologist in the emergency ward that finally got through to him.

"I've got to be brutal," he said to Jason. "You're too fat, and you're killing yourself. We don't even know if we can do anything to help you with medication. You need to help yourself, or you're going to die."

Jason turned his life around after a wake-up call in a hospital emergency ward.
Jason turned his life around after a wake-up call in a hospital emergency ward.

When he suggested gastric band surgery, Jason baulked. How would he cope with life if he'd lost his greatest security blanket, junk food? Then a mate suggested he chat with his wife, who underwent gastric band surgery, which helped convince him his life was fixable.

Jason met with the consultant surgeon in November 2016.

"He told me the gastric sleeve isn't the fix; it's the tool you have to help you fix yourself. It's easy to stretch it by eating too quickly or too much. You can still eat sleeve-friendly foods like ice cream and chocolates that slide straight through, so put on weight again.'

The surgery was scheduled surgery for May 2017, but Jason had to lose weight before the operation. In January 2017, the day after he turned 39, he cleared all the food out of his house and started on three Optifast shakes and a cup of vegetables per day.

"Detoxing off the sugar was the worst six weeks of my life. I was moody, sweaty, and nauseous. I couldn't sleep and sweated buckets."

He started exercising, first walking 100m to the end of the road before building up to a 3km walk. Crucially, Jason also started seeing a psychologist.

"She helped me work through a lot of anger and hurt," he said. "I hadn't dealt with the grief of losing my grandparents. I also learnt that I didn't need my weight to protect me from life. Food wasn't comforting. Comfort had to come from me loving myself."

By the time the surgery came around in May 2017, Jason was down to 174.5kg.

"My doctor said I'll only get out of it what I put in. I thought, if I'm going to make this commitment to go through the pain and suffering of the surgery and going through my past, I'm going to commit myself to start a new life."

He knew surgery wasn’t the easy answer, and he had to put in a huge effort to get fit, as well as change his diet.
He knew surgery wasn’t the easy answer, and he had to put in a huge effort to get fit, as well as change his diet.

 

Jason’s extraordinary weight loss has left him unrecognisable to his former self.
Jason’s extraordinary weight loss has left him unrecognisable to his former self.

 

After the painful operation, he had to learn to eat again living on fluids for three weeks before moving on to purees and soft foods for six weeks, then solids such as scrambled eggs, turkey mince, steamed fish and vegetables.

"I hadn't eaten vegies since I was a kid. Now I love them," he says.

Every morning, Jason puts on his trainers and walks 12-14km. Over the last year, he's lost another 100kg.

"Every day when I look in the mirror, I say, 'Okay Jason, what are you going to do to make yourself to feel proud?'"

In all, Jason has lost around 150kg.
In all, Jason has lost around 150kg.

 

Jason is on a waiting list for skin removal.
Jason is on a waiting list for skin removal.

 

This year, he became the assistant coach to Brother's Junior Rugby League Under 14 side and is back cycling, as well as being the secretary of the local cycling club.

"I'm more confident and engaged with my life. However, without that obese man, I wouldn't be the man that I am today. The lessons I have learned will serve me so much better moving forward. It's helped define the human I am."

He is currently waiting for an operation to remove the excess skin. Jason decided to share his story knowing there are others in a similar situation.

"Obesity is killing so many people. I want to inspire them that you can make a change, no matter what weight you are. I'm here to say there is light at the end of the tunnel."


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