"I said 'no' to weight-loss surgery and lost 130 pounds"*

Isabelle Kennedy was shocked when doctors warned her that if she didn’t lose weight, she’d need to be considered for weight-loss surgery. Now 134 pounds* lighter, Isabelle is embracing her new, healthy lifestyle as she goes off to college.

“Sitting in the doctor’s office, I was devastated by what I was hearing: my doctor explained that if I didn’t lose weight naturally, I might have to undergo gastric bypass surgery to reduce the size of my stomach. At the same time, the doctor also diagnosed me with a form of liver disease, which was worsened by my weight of over 280 pounds.

“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 100 pounds.

“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 been worried 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 didn't want to undergo such a life-changing operation so young.

Filling up and losing weight

“My mom had recently joined Slimming World with a friend, and after seeing the amazing variety of foods she was eating without counting anything, and the supportive group she had to lean on for inspiration and support, 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; for lunch I’d have a baked potato and a big salad with tuna. For family dinners, we could still enjoy our favorites, like spaghetti and meat sauce, bbq pulled pork, or roast chicken with potatoes and vegetables, without having to make separate meals for each person. 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.

“My 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 feel 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.  I weigh in each and every week and attend my weekly slimming group. I find the group support hugely important. Being able to discuss and share recipe ideas with other people who are in the same situation as you helps keep the journey exciting, and at times that you may be finding staying on track difficult, there is always someone there to help lift your spirits.

“The biggest thing for me to overcome was emotional eating, which meant finding other ways of coping. Now, I find going for a long walk with my dog Millie or a run after school is 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—and now I love it!

Heading to college, confident and healthy

“I’m off to college this fall, and I honestly feel that if I hadn’t lost weight, I wouldn’t have even thought of going because I wouldn’t have believed in myself enough. I used to feel self-conscious about talking to people because I thought they’d secretly judge me for being so big. Now I feel full of self-confidence and eager to meet new friends in college.

“Since losing weight, I have reversed my liver disease and have been discharged from the hospital—it’s such an amazing feeling and my doctors are delighted. I’d love to try and reach out to other younger people who are struggling with their weight—I remember being in that place and feeling so lonely. It doesn’t have to feel like that, though—there’s a whole community of people waiting to support you every step of the way.”

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

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


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


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