Australian Elena Goodall must have known she was in big trouble when she went for a routine doctor’s check-up in 2015. The then 27-year-old was a self-confessed fast-food addict with an aversion to any form of exercise. Nevertheless, the resident of the small Queensland city of Mount Ida was shocked at what her doctor had to say. The health professional told Goodall that, unless she changed her ways, there was no way the super-sized woman would live beyond the age of 40. Knowing that she did not want her life to end just when it was supposed to be beginning, Goodall was determined to dodge her death sentence.
But it would be a mammoth undertaking. Indeed, things had become so serious that when Goodall stood on her doctor’s scales, it read “error” because of her large size. The G.P. advised their patient that she would have to be weighed on an industrial scale, which was when Goodall realized the enormity of her problem. The woman knew she was overweight but never realized how much danger she had put herself in.
In fact, Goodall later admitted to Queensland newspaper The Cairns Post that she had long ceased to weigh herself at home. “I couldn’t even tie my own shoes up – things that most people take for granted, I couldn’t do,” she added in an article from June 2017. “I couldn’t sit down on the ground and get back up.” Nevertheless, it was a huge shock when the doctor put her on an industrial weighing machine and it revealed that Goodall had reached a colossal 405 pounds.
Moreover, the 29-stone woman was also diagnosed with type-2 diabetes and severe weight-related sleep apnoea. This sleeping disorder raised the risk of Goodall losing her driving license because of the danger of her falling asleep at the wheel. The 20-something was devastated at the severity of her condition and her parents were extremely concerned for her life.
Mom and Dad Goodall could remember a time when their daughter had been a competitive swimmer, but now she was totally addicted to junk food and had a tasty daily habit. Talking on Australian TV’s Today show in August 2017, Goodall held her hands up to how she had gained so much weight. “Takeaway was pretty much all I’d eat,” she explained. “I never did any exercise at all. Three meals a day – pretty much McDonald’s and KFC.”
And it was not just lack of quality, it was also a case of quantity. Goodall continued, “It wasn’t just one large meal each sitting, it was about three I would get through, plus some extra chips as well.” After numerous attempts to lose the extra pounds through will power alone, Goodall realized that no amount of self-motivation would help her overcome what she came to recognize as a massive addiction. She needed help, and happily her doctor was able to lend her a helping hand.
Having urged Goodall to turn her life around, the medical professional did not just leave her high and dry. They proposed gastric sleeve surgery, a weight-loss procedure whereby surgeons radically reduce the size of a patient’s gut. The operation represented Goodall’s final chance to make a change and save her life. But the invasive surgery was just the beginning.
Following the operation, Goodall junked the fast food but knew that was not enough. She now undertook a low-carb/high-protein diet combined with an exercise regime. Goodall had been made aware that it was perfectly possible for her to slide, but nevertheless she was determined not to fail.
Goodall realized that this was her biggest challenge, and that she needed more than just a diet plan and a few trips to the gym. Pushing 30, she needed to totally revamp her life if she was going to see 40. But, nonetheless, Goodall did not want her new choices to specifically revolve around her weight. The young woman needed an external goal to focus on, rather than dwell on her size. But, whatever it was, it would still need to get her – and keep her – on the right track.
With this in mind, Goodall made a commitment to compete in a triathlon the following year. Lengthy preparations for the running, swimming and cycling event would put her focus on training and away from the scales. Goodall even sealed the deal by appearing on an episode of This Time Next Year, an Australian TV show which follows participants in their attempts to achieve a personal goal over 12 months. The April 2016 triathlon hosted by the Julia Creek Dirt ’n’ Dust Festival in Queensland was now firmly in Goodall’s sights.
And social media users were able to plot her progress. Having made a Facebook community page, Elle’s Journey To Good Health, in December 2015, Goodall began documenting her dedication to the triathlon on her feed. She told followers, “The weight loss happened with the training, and diet is a huge part of it too. I cut takeaway food from my diet and prepared my own at-home meals.”
Spurned on by her will to live, along with negative vibes from some cynics saying she was doomed to fail, the determined Goodall undertook the Julia Creek event in April 2016. Not only that, but she entered the Noosa Triathlon in October of that year, followed by finishing the Cairns Ironman 70.3 in June 2017. This half-triathlon event involved a one-and-a-quarter-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a run over 13 miles.
Needless to say, Goodall’s achievements filled her with pride, and her parents were mightily relieved to see their daughter getting her health back on track. Goodall’s fitness levels had steadily grown and her stamina had gained momentum through her total dedication to a highly challenging training plan. In the process, Goodall had transformed herself from being a clinically obese, 29-stone potential fatality to a healthy 11-stone amateur athlete.
Indeed, when Goodall succeeded in crossing the line at the Cairns Ironman 70.3 event in a respectable time of six hours, 45 minutes, she had problems taking it all in. “My parents would be so proud,” she gushed to The Cairns Post. “They thought they were going to lose me. So for them to see me finish, it’s just unbelievable.”
From struggling to tie her own shoes to successfully completing in a grueling swim-bike-and-run event, Goodall is now a new woman. And it was not just her funky new hairstyle which necessitated a replacement photo for her driving license. Indeed, it is difficult for anyone to see how Goodall was ever a 405-pound woman living under a death sentence.
A YouTube video of her story, uploaded in March 2018, illustrates the dramatic transformation the triathlete has achieved in just two years. The footage, which she has aptly titled “I Reclaimed My Life,” underlines Goodall’s remarkable commitment and has given hope to many others struggling with food addiction.
Viewed more than 12,000 times, Goodall’s update has in turn motivated even more followers. One YouTube user wrote, “I am inspired and so happy for you!” while another admitted to watching the footage while running on a treadmill, saying, “You are an inspiration!” Furthermore, Goodall revealed that she had gone one better and completed a full Ironman, consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112 miles on a bike, and finishing with a marathon run of 26 miles.
Nevertheless, not everyone has shown support and goodwill towards Goodall and many naysayers have criticized her for having the gastric-sleeve surgery. Some YouTube viewers accused her of “cheating” by undergoing this procedure. Meanwhile, others suggested she had tried to conceal her surgery from the public during her appearance on This Time Next Year.
But Goodall addressed the haters in an interview with online triathlon news hub, Trizone. “Since the This Time Next Year episode came out, I’ve had a bit of backlash about my surgery,” she said. “Some people are saying the show doesn’t show an honest representation of my weight loss, but my section on the show was never meant to be about weight loss at all. I actually talked about it and my surgery, but they cut it out.”
However, small-minded criticism has not curbed Goodall’s big ambitions for her personal wellbeing, and she has continued in her mission to live a long and healthy life. She also maintains a channel on YouTube, covering many issues from healthy snacks to dealing with excess skin after weight loss. These days, it looks like Goodall is hungry for slow and steady self-improvement rather than the quick fix of fast food.