“For most people, losing weight is an uphill battle. But when you’re 26 years old and weigh 396 pounds, the journey ahead can feel overwhelming before it’s even begun.
For me, I didn’t let those odds stop me from becoming the best version of myself.
I have always been a chubby child. Going into my teens I grew bigger and would blame it on other issues.
I was a constant target for bullies, I dreaded the school bus ride home, I would put on my headphones and zone out as much as possible.
As an adult these issues caught up with me.
I sank into a deep depression and had other health problems like polycystic ovary syndrome, thyroid issues, insulin resistance and anxiety.
Food became my only source of happiness and as a result, my weight spiraled out of control.
I’d tried every diet under the sun but they never worked. I always found my way back to food.
After meeting Grant, I fell into blissful romance… and my bad habits became worse.
Grant had always had an issue with food as well, so together we were a terrible combo. It escalated when we moved in together.
We snacked on family size bars of chocolate, drinking a liter of Red Bull a day and eating greasy take out sometimes 3 times a day.
Eating together was our thing. We enjoyed it so much we bought a bigger fridge to keep up with our insatiable appetites.
When we got married, we were both at our heaviest, with myself tipping the scales at 396 pounds.
One day I was sat at my desk at work and I nodded off.
When I was out driving I would fall asleep. I stopped breathing during the night on numerous occasions.
I ignored the signs, I was getting terrible back aches and my legs would constantly blow up and I would find it hard to walk.
I went to see my general practitioner, hoping they’d give me some anti-inflammatories to ease my discomfort.
My doctor was quite harsh and gave me the tough love I needed to hear.
She told me the only solution was to lose weight or die.
She specified that I should start planning my funeral rather than a milestone 30th birthday three years away.
It was this scary news that threw me and Grant into a complete life overhaul. Making a pact with Grant, we said that we would lose weight together, we both had a renewed confidence and determination.
Weight Loss Surgery
Drastic times called for drastic measures so we both decided to get gastric-sleeve surgery as a last resort and had to undergo an 8-week pre-op liquid diet in the lead-up.
Following the surgery, I had complications and doctors were unsure if I would survive. Eventually, I pulled through and began my new life with Grant. Combined we have lost nearly 400 pounds together.
I am now 223 pounds lighter, weighing 172 pounds, and Grant, 34, dropped 176 pounds, and now tops the scales at 220 pounds.
I have gone from a size 28/30 to a size 10/12.
We have both said goodbye to binge eating for good and consume healthy, more nutritious foods that suit our diet and lifestyle now.
We both lost weight incredibly fast and learned all about food and nutrition in the process. This is the hardest part.
It’s about reprogramming your brain to make the right choices. Just because I had part of my stomach removed doesn’t mean it does all the work.
If anyone says weight loss surgery is the easy way out, I suggest you come along and see everyone in the community on Instagram or Facebook and see what our daily lives are like.
For myself, losing all that weight was only half the battle.
As a result of dropping so much so fast, I was left with 13 pounds of excess skin – something that constantly reminded me of my old life.
It was hard to combat because I’ve come so far but having all the ugly excess skin was a constant reminder of what I used to be like.
Loving My Body
I had to grow to love my body. I didn’t have good self-image at first.
I worked my ass off for 6 months prior to surgery to get my body in the right position and to make sure I was actually ready for it.
I was working out day and night 6 days a week at the gym.
I still felt down because all I could see was lose skin that wasn’t moving, shifting or even looking smaller.
I would have so many skin infections my body became immune to antibiotics, when I was at the gym my skin would become irritated and would flap around.
I just wanted to see and feel what I know I deserved.
My stomach hung down so low I had to tuck it into my undies, and I knew I would have to have surgery to remove it.
On February 9th, 2018, 2 years and 11 months after my journey started in a bed waiting to be taken into the operating theater, with over 15 thousand people on Instagram waiting to see the process, I did it.
I was terrified. Was this truly going to complete everything and make me happy?
I wasted the first 17 years of my life being severely obese, depressed, and unhealthy, but now I’m excited about my future.
I’ve extended my life, I have given myself more time, and I’m looking forward to spending the next 60 years being healthy and happy with Grant, my family and making a difference in my community.
The secret of making lasting change is to acknowledge and accept that real change takes time and patience.
We didn’t get chronically ill overnight. We didn’t gain weight in one week or even one month.
I’ve had to make this lifestyle change a habit and realize it takes longer than 21 days to form it and ‘control it.’
I now have full control over my diet and do have moments where I have allowances for treats.
I have protein water and shakes and boiled eggs for breakfast and other meals; usually portion-controlled stews, boiled chicken, vegetables, Antipasto snack packs and healthy curries.
We meal prep every Sunday which helps us bond together but keeps each other accountable for the week ahead.
It will take us longer than twenty-one days to overcome whatever we’re facing. Whether it’s something physical, emotional, spiritual, or a combination, we may need to be realistic in our goals for meaningful change to happen.
The first step is acknowledging. Take that first step and don’t look back.
I still have some hurdles to get over and I will probably have an eating disorder/food addiction for the rest of my life, however I am so much better than what I used to be.
I stand on my platform now as an advocate, a survivor, a support person and mostly a friend.
So many people are silenced when it comes to weight loss support and don’t know where to turn.
I greet everyone with open arms regardless of surgery or not. We are all on different paths heading to the same direction.
Next month I turn 30.
Rather than it be a milestone of a sentimental birthday… it will be a milestone of saving my life before it was taken away.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Chantelle Fleming, 29, of Melbourne, Australia. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best love stories.
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