WHEN Gympie man David Allard scaled Mt Cooroora a few months ago, he stood at the summit and enjoyed a lot more than the view.
The 439m vertical climb was a reminder of how far Mr Allard, a youth worker with Gympie Community Action Youth Service, had gone in his weight loss journey.
Six months ago, Mr Allard weighed 180 kilograms and the lingering advice of his doctor almost to four years earlier was troubling him.
The youth worker was told his life expectancy was being cut drastically short due to his weight.
"I was told I had a maximum of 10 years to live," said Mr Allard, who turned 50 on April 1.
"I didn't want to be dead by 60 so I made a goal to turn it around."
After plenty of thought and research, Mr Allard travelled to Brisbane and underwent gastric-sleeve surgery.
The procedure works by removing part of the stomach, leaving a banana-shaped sleeve connecting the oesophagus to the small intestines.
Mr Allard was discharged after two days in hospital and used the surgery as the beginning of a new lifestyle.
Healthy eating, regular exercise and a new outlook on life are all measures Mr Allard has used in addition to his procedure to help shed weight.
In just six months, the youth worker has lost close to 70 kilograms and overhauled his health.
He no longer requires insulin injections for type two diabetes and the weight loss stands to help other weight-related conditions, including eyesight difficulties due to the diabetes, kidney trouble, poor circulation and atrophy of foot muscles and sleep apnoea.
The turning point for Mr Allard was the realisation day-to-day living was "getting harder".
"It was hard to walk and I would often spend all this time driving trying to find a park closest to where I was wanting to go," he said.
Gastric surgery is often stigmatised, and Mr Allard said it was far from a magic cure.
He has worked hard to change his lifestyle, eat healthily and exercise regularly.
And the cause for the weight gain in the first place runs much more deeply than popular accusations of laziness and overindulgence.
Mr Allard used to play a lot of cricket and rugby union before injuries sidelined him.
The lack of activity and bouts of depression over the years led to poor lifestyle choices.
"It's easy to judge but every story is different," Mr Allard said.
"People are quick to judge and offer a solution."
While Mr Allard enjoys a new lease on life and health benefits as a weight-loss goal of 90 kilograms nears, it is his social work that remains a real motivation.
"I can put more into my job helping young people," Mr Allard said.
By taking responsibility and asking for help, Mr Allard believes he is an example of the change he hopes to inspire in troubled youth.
"I want to plant the seed and I hope that can help people," he said.
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