A young British woman who spent $340 (£200) a month on takeaway food has undergone major weight-loss surgery in Turkey, using her student loan to help cover costs.
Megan Fowler, 22, from York in the UK decided she was going to fly to the eastern European country for bariatric surgery in April this year, when she was just 22.
Ms Fowler says she was motivated after being too embarrassed about her appearance to go to university or out with friends.
"I stopped going to university in person as I was too embarrassed, so I did it all online. I also stopped going out with my friends and just locked myself away," she explained.
TikTok video leads to bold bet
But a video on social media platform TikTok would soon help change her life.
"I’d been watching a woman on TikTok who had gastric sleeve surgery in Turkey and saw other people in same situation, so I decided to start my own research," Ms Fowler said.
"If someone mentioned getting surgery to me before, there’d have been no chance I’d have done it, but when I saw people on TikTok getting it, I thought it could work for me.
The student and part-time milk-woman claims the money from her student loan has saved her life, enabling her to pay for the $5,100 (£3,000) surgery.
Ms Fowler, who weighed 150kgs prior to her surgery, travelled to Turkey alone, and praised the care she received whilst there, saying she wouldn’t hesitate getting future procedures.
After making the bold move, she’s now making healthier choices and has seen an improvement in her confidence and mental health.
"I’ve been dieting since I was 16. I tried all the 'fad' diets which weren’t working and so I carried on putting weight on," she said.
"I'm a rugby player and I damaged my back which stopped me from playing, but I carried on eating like a rugby player and that's when I struggled to get rid of the weight. I couldn’t exercise because of my injury, and I got heavier and less mobile."
Student had to convince family over the surgery decision
Unlike stereotypical students, Ms Fowler wasn’t (usually) spending her money on alcohol so tried to reason with family that what she was doing was money well spent.
"My nan was really cross I spent some of my loan on the surgery, but I justify it as I don’t drink, and I hadn’t spent much money as I wasn't going out," she said.
"A lot of students drink their loan money away, but I used it to save my life.
"I was actually jeopardising my education by not going into university so used it to help me.
"My family didn't want me to go to Turkey as they were worried about the stigma around it, but now they've seen how much I'm losing, and how I’m getting back to my old self."
Ms Fowler's healthier food choices are also playing a significant role in her continued weight loss journey.
"I used to binge on takeaways all the time as I didn’t want to cook, I just wanted to eat rubbish food, but now I don't think fatty food is as amazing as I once did," she said.
Megan’s typical food diary before and after
Breakfast – scrambled eggs with chicken and Dairylea cheese.
Lunch – not every day but sometimes will eat chicken skewers.
Dinner – cottage pie or chicken and rice
Breakfast – skipped breakfast
Lunch – a bacon sandwich
Dinner - a takeaway of pizza or Chinese
Snacks - chocolate and crisps throughout the day.
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