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“I said no to weight loss surgery and lost over 130 pounds”*

April 25 2019
Sarah Davison
By Sarah Davison

Isabelle Kennedy was shocked when doctors warned her that if she didn’t lose weight, she may need to be referred for weight loss surgery. Now 132lbs lighter, Isabelle is embracing her new, healthy lifestyle and spreading the Slimming World word.

“I said no to weight loss surgery and lost over 130 pounds”*

“Sitting in the doctor’s office, I was devastated by what I was hearing: my doctor was explaining that I had developed non-alcoholic liver disease—which can lead to severe liver damage and cirrhosis—and that it was worsened by my weight of over 290lbs. If I didn’t lose weight naturally, she said, then the next step would be a referral for gastric bypass surgery.

I’d struggled with my weight my whole life. At just four years old, my mom grew concerned about my size and consulted the family doctor. I turned to foods like chocolate, chips and candy for comfort, and in junior high school, I put on more than 100lbs. No matter what dietary advice we were given by doctors or dietitians, nothing seemed to work—I couldn’t deal with the feeling of being deprived. I tried calorie counting, but I became too focused on the numbers and it took away the enjoyment of cooking and eating.

I’d already been worrying about how my weight was going to affect my health in the future, and the possibility of weight loss surgery was my wake-up call. I knew I didn’t want to undergo such a life-changing operation so young.

Discovering a new way of eating
My mom had recently joined Slimming World with a friend, and after seeing the amazing variety of foods she was eating, I decided to try it, too. While previous diets left me feeling deprived, Slimming World’s healthy eating plan, called Food Optimizing, encouraged me to fill my plate with lots of satisfying foods, which I couldn’t believe!

My day would start with poached eggs, tomatoes, and mushrooms with whole-wheat toast; lunch was a baked potato with tuna and a big salad; and for family dinners, we could still enjoy our favorites, like pizza-topped chicken, spaghetti and meat sauce, and BBQ pulled pork. For the first time I felt so full and satisfied after meals that I naturally craved fewer treats—though I loved the fact that I could still enjoy a fun-size chocolate bar or ice cream if I wanted.

Our fridge was always filled with fresh fruit and veggies—when life got manic, it was so much easier to reach in and choose something healthy. I never felt stuck when it came to eating out, either—whether I asked for a baked potato instead of fries, or trimmed the fat from a lean steak, there was always a healthy choice to be made.

Leaning on Slimming World support
The support and love that I have received from everyone at Slimming World has been crucial to my journey. Being able to discuss and share recipe ideas with people who were in the same situation as me helped keep the journey exciting, and at those times when I found staying on track difficult, there was always someone there to help lift my spirits.

The biggest thing for me to overcome was emotional eating, which meant finding other ways of coping. Slimming World’s gentle, get-started activity program, called Body Magic, encouraged to be more active and I found going for a long walk with my dog, Millie, or a run in the evening a great way to relax after a stressful day. It’s crazy because I used to dread any kind of activity—I’d worry what I looked like and quickly got out of breath. Now I love it!

Originally, I thought I might lose around 20lbs or so, but when I hit 260lbs I realized I wanted to keep going. By the time of my next hospital appointment, I was down to 175lbs and, seeing the result of my recent ultrasound, the doctor was impressed. When she told me that my weight loss had reversed the effects of the liver disease, I was delighted. I feel like my whole life is ahead of me—with a clean bill of health.”

Inspired? You’ll find lots more support and inspiration on our website, helping you to make real, lasting changes and lose weight for life.

*Your weight loss will vary according to your individual circumstances and how much you have to lose.

The health information in this story is intended to provide general knowledge and should not be used to replace a visit with a healthcare provider. You should consult your healthcare provider before beginning, or changing, and weight loss program. Slimming World’s online program is available to members over 18 in the USA.