Disclaimer: This story contains details of disordered eating that may be upsetting to some.
“Today, I am 140lbs lighter than when I started my weight loss journey. My success did not happen overnight. But my weight gain didn’t happen overnight, either. In fact, my story spans my entire 36 years of life. My journey has been a roller coaster of food addiction, emotional binge eating, fad diets, diet pills, failed lap band surgery, and many trial and errors, all eventually leading me to gain more weight than I ever expected. So much weight I’m not even sure what my highest weight was because I was too ashamed and scared to step on the scale. But know it had to be at least 300lbs and probably more.
From my earliest childhood memories I have always been overweight. My family, though I’m sure in their minds thought they were trying to help, would encourage me to drop the weight. They would say things like, ‘Are you sure you want to eat that?’ and ‘You would be so pretty if you lost weight.’ Which now I realize is when I first associated beauty with being thin. If I wasn’t thin, then I must not be beautiful, right?
And as many other overweight children can attest, my school experience was even worse than home. I was bullied and called names. They called me chubby, cow, fatty, and a lot of times just plain ole FAT! In fifth grade, a group of my classmates sang the 90’s jingle ‘1-800-94 Jenny’ as I walked down the hall. Still to this day I hate Jenny Craig.
Middle and high school was not any easier. It only got worse as the years went by. I watched girls my age develop cute figures and get boobs and boyfriends. They dressed in cute clothes and I envied their confidence. Meanwhile, I was a size 12/14 in women’s and dressed in baggy shirts to try hide my weight. The cute clothes didn’t fit me. My grandmother even had to make my prom dress because the dresses in my size were unflattering or not affordable.
I played softball throughout those years of school and I suppose it helped keep some weight off, but not as much as I wanted. I even tried diet pills and the only thing they did was cause me to pass out on the softball field. It was so embarrassing. I was an emotional eater. Anytime something bad happened or I felt down, I would eat. I hid food and candy in my room and would stuff my face until I was sick. Overeating and binging is something I still struggle with to this day.
I wanted so badly to fit in. So badly that when a boy I liked asked me out I was so excited I didn’t even think about it and said yes! But my excitement was short lived only to find out he was dared to do it and said he’d never go out with a lard ass like me. It was traumatizing.
When I went away to college, I stopped playing sports and blew up to 250lbs. But in 2006, I met my now husband. With my traumatic experience with the guys in high school, it took me awhile to convince myself he actually liked me. But not only did he like me, we fell in love. I couldn’t have done this without him. He has been my rock and biggest fan through it all. Fast forward a little while, we were engaged, I picked out a wedding dress (which was a size 24) and we got married. 10 months later, we had our first son. With my weight still climbing, I was about 300lbs now.
We wanted more children, but due to my obesity and PCOS, we struggled with infertility. Finally, I made the decision to have lap-band surgery to lose the weight. As much as I regret it now, as it caused me to have so many health problems, it did allow me to lose 60lbs, and after 6 long years of trying to conceive we had our second son and soon after our daughter. But after we had our third child, my weight went right back up to 300lbs.
As much as I love my children, it was hard being a mom and being so overweight. I couldn’t play with them like I wanted to. Everyday life is harder when you carry extra weight. Doing the regular fun things families do such as amusement parks was horrible for me. Walking was exhausting and fitting on rides was always a problem. And you could FORGET about water parks. I wasn’t about to wear a swimsuit in public. I never even wanted to be in pictures with my family. Which to this day is one of my biggest regrets.
In 2019, I had enough of living that way. I was tired of being overweight and not enjoying my life as much as I knew I should be. I wanted to feel better. I wanted to get healthy. For my husband, for my children, and mostly for myself. So, I had gastric bypass surgery. There’s a lot of controversy when it comes to gastric bypass. The long term success rate is low and people will tell you it’s the easy way out. But it’s been far from easy. But it was a tool. A tool I desperately knew I needed to help me take control of my life. And I have ZERO regrets.
With the help of my gastric bypass, a low carb diet, and many MANY hours a week at the gym, I was able to lose 140lbs. And I have maintained my weight to keep it off. This is not to say I don’t still struggle. I still battle with my food addiction, overeating, and my emotional eating disorder. I’ve just learned how to recover better now when I overeat.
Everyday is a new day and I will start over, eating healthy and making good choices. I don’t ‘diet.’ This is a lifestyle change. I watch my caloric intake and know what my body needs. I’ve learned there is no such thing as bad food and I can have whatever I want in moderation. But moderation is KEY. The food will always be there tomorrow. And getting to the gym is very important to me. I love it. It keeps me on track not only physically but mentally as well. Something I never thought possible two years ago.
While losing so much weight is an amazing thing and something I am extremely proud of, it didn’t come without hinderance. I had hair loss, my emotional state was all over the place, I stay cold all the time and the amount of excess skin left was a bit overwhelming. Body dysmorphia is real and is something I struggle with as well. Losing weight is hard. Keeping the weight off is hard. But being overweight is hard, too. You just have to choose your hard.
I’ve had multiple plastic surgeries to have skin removed including a thigh lift, tummy tuck, breast lift and augmentation. Not everyone wants to have or will have plastic surgery on their journey. But I did it for me! And I am extremely happy with my results.
During my journey, I started a TikTok and Instagram to document my progress for my own accountability and to hopefully also inspire others. I know in the beginning I was always looking to other people for inspiration and would spend hours looking at before and after photos. Just dreaming that someday that could be me.
I have gained so many followers, a lot of who are on weight loss journeys of their own. And it’s still surreal to me that I am now one of those success stories I always read about. And now I have followers looking at my before and after photos, working hard to achieve similar results and looking up to me as a person.
Since sharing my journey with others, I have felt less alone. Although my goal was to inspire and help others, they have definitely helped me as well and at times kept me going. Finally, after 36 years, I’m not only confident with the way I look, but I also love the way I feel.
I am able to play with my children, have jumped out of airplanes, ran a marathon, modeled swimsuits, I’ve taken photo shoots, I go kayaking, I ride every ride at the amusement parks and I’ve even made new friends along the way. I don’t let anything hold me back. I really couldn’t be happier. I’m so thankful I made the decision to just believe in the person I wanted to become.”
Dont underestimate yourself ever
Hard work paid off before and after
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Nicole Sheffield. You can follow her journey on Instagram and TikTok. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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