By Ben Wheeler
MEET the woman who after years of being taunted about her size by family members and peers has turned her life around be losing half her body weight.
Angelique Dotts, 31, from Vallejo, California knew from an early age that her size made her different from her girl friends at school.
After spending years of being uncomfortable in her own skin, Angelique finally decided to take doctors’ advice to undergo weight loss surgery in March 2016 after being told it would be nearly impossible to lose weight naturally due to her complex medical conditions.
Images show an unhappy Angelique at her previous weight of 334lbs compared to the positive and healthy 170lbs woman she is today.
“I used to receive a lot of negativity about my weight, I remember older family members whispering to my mum or dad about how much weight I gained as a child,” Angelique recalled.
“Both my grandmothers were very critical, one would remind me about how cute I was as a baby and ask what happened to me.
“I knew that I was a big kid and that it made me different from my other girl friends, I hated that I couldn’t wear the same clothes as them or even keep up with them when we played outside.
“I was teased often in school but always tried to make fun of myself before anyone else could make fun of me, I always made myself the butt of the joke before anyone else could.
“I was an active kid and loved to play sports and ride bikes. I was always outside with the other kids from the neighbourhood playing and running around, I couldn’t understand why I was fat.”
Angelique, who was diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) at the age of 12, then detailed how her weight issues developed during her teens and adulthood before finally finding the cause of the problem.
“I didn’t over eat but nor did I eat great, during high school I would eat a bag of hot Cheetos with nacho cheese every day for lunch,” she said.
“I tried to hide my insecurity about my weight by pretending that it didn’t matter. I kept up with fashion and makeup and always told myself I didn’t need to be fat AND sloppy looking, I was very mean to myself and my body.
“As an adult I would watch my food intake, the types of food I was eating weren’t the issue, but I did eat too much and too often, easily three to four thousand calories a day.
“I managed to lose 75lbs between 2008 and 2010 through an extreme weight loss programme with a personal trainer working out up to three times a day.
“However, in late 2009 I discovered a mass in my abdomen that turned out a massive cyst that had taken over my right fallopian tube and ovary.
“I had to have surgery to have these removed at the start of 2010 after which I gained weight pretty rapidly as I started to exercise less regularly and slip back into old eating habits due to depression.
Angelique revealed how her life changed in 2012 after joining a new gym, although this fresh journey wasn’t without its setbacks after she was diagnosed with Endometriosis, a painful condition where tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb is found in other parts of the body.
“I joined a new gym to restart my health and weight loss journey, I started exercising three or four times a week and even went belly dancing,” she said.
“It was here that I started dating the man who is now my husband, he’s a very athletic guy and helped keep me motivated while I started this journey. I’d be lying if I said that him being so fit didn’t affect my diet and workout routine, I wanted to keep up!
“However, in March 2013 I had a setback when I was diagnosed with Endometriosis and had to undergo hormone treatment to help alleviate the chronic pain and fatigue I was suffering which left me unable to work out.
“By early 2015 I had gained all the weight back that I had lost before and then some and on May 1 I weighed in at my heaviest weight at 334lbs.
“Even though I’d started working out again I was still putting on weight, I mentioned this to my gynaecologist who suggested I look into surgery because it was unlikely with my medical conditions that I would have any success with natural weight loss as I got older.
“The idea that I would keep gaining weight and continue to get more and more unhappy with my body made me finally take the first step to surgery.
“I took the advice and attended a seminar with my husband, he was initially very nervous about the idea and risks involved, however I had made my mind up within 15 minutes of being there and made an appointment with the surgeon the following day.
“After six months of monitored weight loss and meetings I was able to lose 30lbs in five-and-a-half months plus an additional 18lbs during the mandatory pre-op liquid diet before I had a Vertical Sleeve Gastroectomy in March 2016, at which point I weighed 282lbs.”
Finally, Angelique detailed her progress since having the surgery and the reaction she has received to her incredible transformation.
“I now work out three to five days a week and try to eat no more than 1100 to 1300 calories a day,” said Angelique.
“I tend to stick to a low carb, high protein diet and my stomach can now only hold about five to seven ounces of food during a meal, so I can no longer over eat.
“Overall, I am happy with my new body despite the loose skin on my arms and stomach, I’m stronger and fitter than I have ever been and love being able to do things that I could never do before.
“People tell me that I look like a different person and that I look amazing regularly after losing a whole person’s worth of weight!
“I have had so many opportunities open up for me both professionally and personally and have even had people approach me for modelling work which is something that I never thought would happen.
“My advice to anyone who was in a same situation as I was is don’t wait and get started today. Don’t get in your own way, make a plan and start moving!”