Hi. My name is Julie and this is my story.
I was born in 1973 in Houston TX. I was 9.6 pounds and 19 inches long. Since my birth mother was only 16 and was forced to give me up for adoption, I was adopted at 9 days old. My adoptive parents always loved me and supported me which I greatly appreciate.
I was always tall for my age when I was young. I don’t know how much I weighed when I was a child. Looking back at old pictures, I did not start gaining weight until I was 12 and in 7th grade. I wore glasses from the age of 6 and was always a little chunky so was made fun of a lot in grade school.
As I went through puberty and gained weight, I was forced to be on every popular fad diet throughout junior high and high school. A few of the ones I was put on were the grapefruit diet, the cabbage soup diet, the Oprah Winfrey liquid diet, Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers. After all the yo-yo dieting, by the time I graduated high school, I weighed over 300 pounds. With yet another diet, I was able to lose some and get down to 250 by the time I went off to college in 1991. After coming back home after a year away at school, I did whatever I wanted food wise and quickly gained weight.
By 1994, I was about 350 pounds. I was working odd jobs, drinking, and doing drugs and of course I kept gaining weight. I was able to get a better job in the travel industry with insurance in 1996 as well as quit using drugs. Due to sitting at a desk for hours a day and still eating what I wanted, I got up to 400 pounds by January 1998.
I used my insurance and had weight loss surgery, gastro-plasty, in January 1998. Gastro-plasty was a stomach surgery done back then that has a band with staples underneath to keep the band in place. The surgeon cut me open to do the surgery and also removed my gallbladder which was full of stones. After surgery, I had 3 weeks on a liquid only diet, 3 weeks of soft solid foods (mashed potatoes, etc), and then could slowly introduce regular foods back into my diet. In the first 9 months, I lost about 130 pounds. I stayed around 280 pounds and fluctuated my weight between 250-280 for many years.
I moved to Colorado a year after surgery thinking that being closer to outdoor activities I enjoy would make me more active so I could drop the rest of my weight. I usually just would be working or stayed in my apartment although I did go visit the sites around the state. I moved back to Texas in 2000 to be closer to and to help my family. I lost about 10 pounds each year over the next 5 years and was 240 pounds when I got pregnant with my son in 2004. I was 280 pounds again when he was born but soon lost the baby weight and got into the 230’s within 6 months. I stayed between 230 and 250 pounds throughout the past 12 years.
I was very depressed last year when my father died at the age of 75. My son and I moved in with my mother in October to help her and in November 2017, I decided I was done being overweight, heavy, depressed, and hating how I looked. I started watching my calories and eating a low-fat diet as well as exercising by walking at least 5 days a week. I went from 221 to 200 pounds between November and April of 2018. In April, I was experiencing numbness and pain in my feet. I went to a podiatrist and was diagnosed with foot neuropathy. He started treatment and told me that I needed to follow a specific diet plan called the keto diet. The keto diet is a low carb, high fat diet. When I first started the eating plan, I wasn’t sure of what to eat so I had a lot of cheese, bacon, eggs, and ground beef. After getting tired of the same foods, I bought some protein bars for snacks and started cooking keto recipes I would find on Pinterest and Google which made this kind of eating easier for me. I cut all sugar from my diet and now eat between 20-40 net carbs a day. The diet help me not have problems with my feet during exercise just like the doctor had said.
The side effect of the eating plan is the amazing amount of weight loss I had. I was exactly 200 pounds in April 2018 and as of October 2018, I weigh 154 pounds and can fit into a size medium shirt and size 8 jeans which is what size I wore in sixth grade and have never fit into since, until now. That’s 45 pounds in 6 months! When I got my weight down to 170, I started having pain in my outer hip. Since arthritis is in the inner hip area, my doctor advised me that it was probably my excess skin hanging down past my belly that was making it hurt to jump, run, and dance. This is the first procedure I want to have done so I can feel normal again.
My future plan is to stick to the keto diet to make sure the neuropathy doesn’t affect my exercising as well as learning to maintain my current weight. I still need to lose 5 pounds in my opinion but it will come in time. With skin removal surgery, I expect to lose anywhere from 5-10 more pounds as well. I am much happier and even went back to college to get my 2nd bachelors degree, this time in nutrition. I want to work for a weight loss surgeon to help their clients lose the weight they are required to before they are approved for surgery or to help them realize they can lose weight on their own and change their eating habits. I believe with my past surgery, combined with my total weight loss of over 250 pounds, I can help other people realize that it is possible and show them that I have faith in them and will help them all I can in their journey.
I have excess skin everywhere. I have had many people tell me what I should try in order to get rid of all the skin. If a person has lost weight quickly like I did after my stomach surgery, the skin does not have time to “catch up” with the body and it will stay stretched. Also, the older a person gets, the skin just doesn’t bounce back like it did when they were younger and at the age of 45, I definitely can see that. It does not matter how much exercise a person gets or how many products they try, the excess skin will still be there waiting to be removed by a surgeon.
My story is also on Instagram under @juliehcares although not with this much detail. I am going to start a GoFundMe after I meet with a surgeon and am hoping to have the first surgery in July of 2019. I will make a blog about it when I post on GoFundMe as well. When I have the surgery done, I will be posting right before surgery as well as all of my recovery for anyone to watch the progress, see what was done, and how it feels on Instagram.
Thank you for reading my story!