One year ago Blenheim woman Aleisha King ate takeaways for dinner every night, battled mental health issues and weighed 163kg.

Walking to the corner of the street was too much for Aleisha King.

At her lowest point she was depressed and suicidal, bulimic, self-harming up to twice a day, battling bipolar disorder and was bullied. She spent six years moving in and out of residential mental illness care.

She was angry, and her weight caused health issues – bad asthma, gallstones, high blood-sugar levels, the flu and was regularly hospitalised for breathing problems.

Now, Ms King, 22, is 60kg lighter, continuing to shrink and has had an attitude overhaul.

She leaves for Christchurch on Monday after being accepted for a six-week course at Burnham Military Camp, run by the New Zealand Army and Work and Income New Zealand, and she can’t wait.

“This is the start of my life – that’s how I see it. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. I’m proof that if you put your mind to something you can achieve it. You need to find that little sliver of hope and grasp on to it.”

She’s aiming for a career in the army or police force, or perhaps as a personal trainer with her new-found love of exercise.

Twice a day in the summer, Ms King walks to the gym and runs home, carrying bricks in her backpack to increase her stamina.

At the gym she does a 90-minute workout of cardio, weights and boxing.

Ms King’s life was not always so active. She moved to Blenheim from Gore, Southland, weighing 115kg, but grew to more than 163kg after eating takeaways every night while working long shifts and doing no exercise.

Her boyfriend at the time gave her the confidence to start living life, she said.

“I am so grateful to him for influencing me on this journey and his mum (Cheryl Thompson) continues to be my rock.”

After the couple’s relationship ended Ms King was offered work experience on a dairy farm near Blenheim in early 2010.

There, she made close friends, was forced to get active and set her sights on the military.

“I remember one day on the dairy farm I was having a low point, and I thought there must be more to life than this.”

A key to the change was support from mental-health service provider Witherlea House which taught Ms King coping skills and corrected her medication.

She was now addicted to exercise, she said, and could not wait to get fitter at the army camp.

“I’ve never wanted something so much. I’m nervous, excited and a bit freaked out.”

~ Marlborough Express

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