Health Female Adda
1 year ago
I Had Surgery to Lose Weightâ€"but It Took Much More to Shed 166 Pounds

The Lifestyle

Before: 311
After: 145

I was always bigger in middle school and high school, but when I got my driver's license, I started hitting up fast food restaurants and binge eating. I'd always get at least two meals at a time. After high school graduation, I gained about 50 pounds.

weight loss success story
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The Change

When I moved in with a boyfriend, we started feeding into each other's terrible eating habits, bingeing together. When that relationship ended after three years, I realized I really wasn't happy with myself.

RELATED: My Weight Loss Surgery Was a Huge Mistake

I decided to get weight-loss surgery. I had dieted on and off since I was 12, so I thought that I needed a weight-loss method that would help me fight my addictive behavior. It really felt like my best option at the time because it was a physical restriction to keep me from bingeing like I used to.

I ended up getting gastric sleeve surgery, which reduced the size of my stomach to four ounces, though it can stretch back to normal over time.

weight loss success story
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The Food

In the beginning, I focused on protein and veggies. Since I could only eat four ounces at each meal, I had three ounces of protein and one ounce of veggies at each sitting. I ate six meals a day.

Over time, I progressed to six ounces with four ounces of protein, one ounce of veggie and one ounce of carbs. I continued to eat six small meals a day. This kind of eating was hard at first, but as time went on I began to feel more energized. As part of my six-meals-a-day plan, I snacked on string cheese and almonds or Greek yogurt.

weight loss success story
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The Workouts

About two months after the surgery, I started working out. I knew that if I didn't exercise, I wasn't going to get the results I wanted. Unlike what most people think, weight-loss surgery can only help you lose so much weight on its own.

I started working out three days a week, 45 minutes a day. For the first year, I focused on cardio. I did about 20 minutes of exercise on machines like the treadmill and elliptical. Then I moved on to abs-strengthening moves. I tried to mix up my workouts each day to keep my body guessing. When I started seeing results, I ramped up my sweat sessions to five times a week.

RELATED: 5 Strength Moves You Need to Do If You Want to Lose Weight

About a year into my weight loss, I started resistance training. I used my gym's machines and also worked with dumbbells to do deadlifts, curls, squats, rows, and other free-weight moves. I started lifting for 90 minutes a day and made sure to hit every muscle during my time in the weight room. (Kick up your workout routine with Women's Health's Look Better Naked DVD.)

I eventually picked up cardio again. Today, I do 20 minutes of cardio followed by 45 minutes of weight lifting.

weight loss success story
4/6 Photograph courtesy of Michelle Pardo
Dealing with the Haters

Though I feel better than ever, if I could go back, I wouldn't have had weight loss surgery. I receive a lot of judgment because people think that I don't have to work hard at the gym or fight the urge to eat donuts and pizza. But it really is a struggle to lose weight—even with the surgery. It's not a one-time solution for weight loss.

If I could do it over again, I would have started eating healthy and exercising, instead of getting the procedure.

weight loss success story
5/6 Photograph courtesy of Michelle Pardo
Sticking with it

Two-and-a-half years later, I've lost 166 pounds. My progress photos are mostly responsible for helping me stick with my healthier habits, but I've also learned that I have to live my life without always worrying about the scale.

I used to be addicted to weighing myself, but I've found that the number isn't everything. When I saw how other people eat at restaurants or relax on the beach, they seemed to be enjoying their bodies (or at least appeared to be). I realized that there's more to life than focusing on weight loss.

When I went on a two-week honeymoon, I gained about 10 pounds but I'm not stressing about it. Instead of freaking out, I'm just going back to my healthy ways.

weight loss success story
6/6 Photograph courtesy of Michelle Pardo
The Reward

Full disclosure: Since I lost the weight, I also had a tummy tuck to reduce the skin around my midsection and help me get closer to my weight-loss goal. I have to say that I'm super-happy with the results!

Beyond the way I look, I've learned that sweating at the gym really affects my mindset. I'm a much happier person.

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