Transformation of the Day: Jacqueline lost 154 pounds. When this proud nurse realized that her weight was out of control, so also realized that being busy caring for everyone else was no longer a good excuse. She made a promise to her beloved mom before she passed away that she would take better care of herself. Despite some significant ups and downs, she’s done just that. Now, she is pregnant with her first child. Check out her journey.
At 399 pounds, I knew I had a problem. I mean, how could I let myself go so far? Why didn’t anybody tell me my weight was so out of control?
There I was, graduating with a Masters degree in Nursing so that I could be a family nurse practitioner, and my body was out of control. How could I advise my patients to be healthy when I’m doing the exact same thing they are?
Yes, I could use the excuse that I was working full-time and going to school full time too. Yes, I could use the excuse that I was busy caring for a sick parent. Yes, I could use the excuse that I was busy helping to raise my nieces and nephews. All that is true, but none of that justifies those three numbers on that scale.
I was out of control. I loved food, and it was showing, big time. I’ve never done drugs, but fast food was my drug of choice. I was addicted. Not only could I get any array or combination of food, but I could also get it fast and get as much as I wanted, anytime I wanted. And until I saw those numbers on the scale, I was okay with it. I thought I had everything under control. I mean, I knew I was a big girl, but I’ve always been the big one. “I have big bones,” I would jokingly say. Or, “I have big genes, you know mom is a big girl too.” That was my justification, and it worked.
One day in 2014, I was sitting on the side of my mom’s bed, talking with her, and she told me how much she wanted me to start taking care of myself. She told me that she didn’t want me to go through the same things medically that she was fighting. Sitting on the side of that bed, she made me promise that I would do anything within my power to lose weight and get healthy. Little did we both know, that would be one of our last intimate conversations with each other. She passed away a few weeks later, but our conversation stayed with me in the back of my mind.
So, after some significant changes, I moved to Texas to start anew. Here, I could make a fresh start. I didn’t have to be who I was, but habits are hard to break. In an effort to fulfill my promise, I joined Weight Watchers. After the first 15lb loss, I was ecstatic. In October 2014, I joined the YMCA and started working out daily.
After about 6 months, I was down to 340lbs. At this time, I’m on top of the world. I have a new job, I’m building a new home, and my best friend is sharing this journey with me. Then I lost my job, and finances started getting tight. I had to make some decisions, and neither Weight Watchers or the YMCA made the cut.
So, now I’m back to my old normal. I’m bored, I’m lonely, and I’m sad sometimes. So I do what any addict does… I return to my habit. I’m back to doing what I do best. I’m helping my best friend take care of her kids, and I’m using food as a drug. Slowly I see the weight creeping back on. My scale is now reading 360 lbs. I’ve regained 20 pounds. Damn!
Then, my OBGYN tells me about this new pill that is used to help with weight loss. At this point, what do I have to lose besides pounds? So I agree. I began taking Contrave, and it worked for the most part, except it was very expensive and I couldn’t afford to keep buying it month to month. Here I am, bouncing back and forth between 350 and 360lbs.
After a 3 month hiatus, I began working again. This job ended up being both a blessing and a curse. It allowed me to save the money needed to close on my first home, but it also came with so much stress and time commitments. I began thinking about what I would do for the long haul because this position was only contributing to my level of stress. After a complete change, I decided to quit my stressful job and started working at a clinic instead. This was a huge change for me, but it was one of the best decisions I could make for myself.
In the meantime, I began thinking about restarting my weight loss journey. I joined 24-Hour Fitness, but my motivation was just not there. I started watching YouTube videos on Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy surgery (VSG), and once again began to wonder if I should look into the procedure. I went in for a surgical consult, and the surgeon said that I would be a great candidate for the procedure. The only caveat was, I had to lose 35lbs before she would even schedule me for the surgery. So, I started the preop testing and was cleared by Psych and Cardio. I had a preop sleep study, stress test, and EGD. After months of dieting and working out, I made it to 330lbs, just 5 lbs shy of my pre-surgery goal. With some begging and pleading, I was able to convince my surgeon to put me on her schedule and promised I would lose the last 5lbs before surgery. December 28 was my day.
Meanwhile, I was put on a liquid diet to reduce the size of my liver to make it easier for my surgeon to maneuver around inside my abdomen. So, not only was I on a liquid diet for my birthday, but also for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I snuck a 1/2 cupcake on my birthday, and a thin piece of smoked turkey for Christmas, but other than that, I stayed true to my liquid diet.
On the day of my surgery, December 28, 2016, I weighed in at 323 pounds (height: 5′ 5″). I had surpassed my goal! I was ecstatic! As they prepped me for surgery, I was nervous and scared, but I was confident in my decision, and I knew my life was changing for the better. With my aunt and my BFF by my side, I did the bravest thing I’ve ever done. I had Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy.
My procedure took about 1 hour, and I stayed in recovery for another hour. I was put in an outpatient room to fully awaken and allow the nurses to rehydrate me with IV fluids. Once I was able to stand by myself, I hit the halls. I was on a mission to go home. I walked every hour until my surgeon came to see me that afternoon. She was so impressed with my progress that she allowed me to go home that same day. My aunt came to be my caregiver, but my BFF wasn’t very far away. For the next few weeks, my job was to drink liquids (yep, back on a liquid diet) and walk. I took a month off work to recuperate, so I didn’t have to worry about that stress at the time.
At my 1 week weigh in, I had already lost 12 pounds. As my strength increased, I was able to do more and more. By the time I was cleared to workout again, I was down 23 pounds. Seeing the number on the scale go down was great motivation. I was very serious about my journey, so I hired a trainer and began hitting the gym 4 times a week.
By the time I was 9 months out, I was down 76lbs. By the time I was 1-year post-op, I was 78.6 lbs down from surgery, and 154.6 lbs down from my highest weight.
This journey has not been easy. It has been riddled with sweat, tears, disappointments, success, weight loss, and regain… BUT I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world! I stopped taking care of everyone else and started taking care of me. I can definitely say that it was the best decision
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that I have to put in the work to get the results I want. I come from a family with unhealthy habits, and I have to teach myself how to eat and what works for my body.
My advice for women is, you’re worth it. Don’t wait too long to make the changes needed to become healthier. My biggest regret is not making the change sooner. Also, change may not come in the form you want. There is no shame in needing help. My help came in the form of surgery.
I’m currently expecting my first baby, and I know this wouldn’t have been possible without weight loss. I’m hesitant about gaining weight with this pregnancy, but I know my tool works, and I’ll be back at it after her
arrival. Stay tuned for more!