By Rebecca Drew
MEET the stunning woman who has lost more than thirteen-and-a-half-stone after a stroke at just 16 and the loss of her father years later saw her pile on the pounds.
Customer service specialist, Ellie Rodriguez (24) from Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA, felt insecure about her body after she put on weight after suffering a stroke at 16 and losing her high school sweetheart in a tornado in 2011. Four years later, her father tragically passed away. Eating carb and sugar laden meals, Ellie tipped the scales at 24st 9lbs and was a UK size 28.
In April 2016, Ellie decided to have vertical sleeve gastrectomy surgery and has stuck to a low carb, high protein and fat diet ever since. Now a slender 11st 1lb and a UK size 8-10, Ellie’s husband, Jose, is often stopped in the street when they are together and is asked if he has remarried a different woman.
“Being a child of divorce, having a stroke at age sixteen, then losing my high school boyfriend just a year later in a tornado in 2011 and my alcoholic father that passed away four years after that – all contributed to significant weight gain,” said Ellie.
“My health was beginning to decline. I was diagnosed with fatty liver and was told my liver enzymes were so high, if I didn’t lose weight I could possibly have to have a liver transplant later in life.
“I have gained a second chance at a life I’ve always dreamed of. I can run without getting out of breath, ride rollercoasters, go horseback riding with my husband, anything I want to do, I can now.
“I was addicted to carbs and sugar and completely cut them out. I focused solely on protein and high fat for energy and started out doing 20-30 minutes on the elliptical. I have now worked my way up to an hour of exercise.
“I’m finally healthy and that’s the most important thing. I have to remind myself of how much I have truly overcome, because sometimes I can get a bit overwhelmed.”
Ellie is now looking forward to starting a family with her husband but says the most difficult thing about extreme weight loss is the excess skin that is left behind.
“One of the hardest things about losing an excessive amount of weight is the extra skin that comes with it,” she explained.
“This can add extra stress and lack of confidence during the losing phase and thereafter, but I would rather have a little loose skin than another stroke or heart attack due to being overweight.
“A lot of people have a hard time recognising me. When we’re seen out, my husband is often asked if he got remarried to a different woman.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/sleeve_queen