By Liana Jacob
MEET the beautiful photographer who felt ‘trapped’ in her body after years of struggling with diabetes and depression due to her weight until one day she decided ‘enough is enough’ and underwent weight loss surgery to lose over TWELVE-STONE in two-and-a-half-years.
Photographer and operations manager, Kathleen Golding (26), from North Carolina, USA, grew up struggling with her weight and was told by her doctor when she was in year four that she was two-stone two pounds heavier than she should be. Hitting the weight of 23st 9Ibs when she was 23 years old, she developed anxiety and depression, which made her turn to food for comfort.
Having to cope with a variety of health problems and taking high blood pressure medication at the age of 23 made her decide to make a drastic lifestyle change and booked in for gastric bypass surgery, a surgical procedure where staples are used to create a small pouch at the top part of the stomach. She is now a bodacious 10st 13Ibs and UK size 10.
“I have struggled with weight my entire life. Everyone in my family has a weight issue at some point so it’s not something that just kind of crept up on me,” Kathleen said.
“I started to notice I was bigger compared to other kids in the first grade. By the fourth grade, I was about thirty pounds heavier than the doctor said I should be so my mum got a note from my paediatrician, so I could start the Weight Watchers program.
“That was my first ever diet. My weight went up and down throughout my teen years and then I started to struggle with depression and anxiety around the age of twenty-one. I started binge eating as a coping mechanism and gained one-hundred pounds in one year. I was 331 pounds when I was twenty-three.
“I felt trapped in my body. I knew it was one-hundred percent my fault for letting myself get to that point and that made me feel even worse.
“It was like I was watching my youth pass me by and I was miserable. There were so many things I couldn’t do – I couldn’t fit in rollercoaster seats, I couldn’t fit in most clothes, I couldn’t wear high heels.
“I couldn’t sit comfortably in movie theater seats, I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs – the list honestly goes on and on.
“I was wasting years of my life, and I had convinced myself I wasn’t strong enough to make a change and that just fuelled my depression.
“There wasn’t a deciding moment. It was so many things that finally led to me saying ‘enough is enough’. I was taking high blood pressure medication at the age of twenty-three and I was a diabetic.
“My joints ached from the massive amount of weight I was carrying around and I had zero confidence.
“It also didn’t help that we live in a world where you are constantly told that you only matter if you’re thin and beautiful. I felt worthless. I wanted to be healthy, but I knew I needed help.”
With her decision to undergo surgery, she has received negative comments to which she responds that you don’t just lose the weight immediately, you still have to work hard on it.
“I lost the weight because I made a drastic lifestyle change. Unfortunately, that statement right there is going to make some people mad because I had gastric bypass surgery,” Kathleen said.
“What those same people fail to understand is that you don’t wake up 179 pounds lighter after having the surgery and massive, sustained weight loss is not a guarantee.
“I’ve completely changed my relationship with food and how I view my body because of what I’ve done. Hours of time in the gym and the kitchen are the reason I lost the weight.
“Losing weight has without a doubt changed every single aspect of my life. My number one reason for the weight loss has always been to get healthy.
“I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t love being a smaller size and how clothes fit me now, but the ultimate goal was always to be healthy.
“I am learning to love myself but it’s definitely a process. There are days where I am so unbelievably proud of everything I’ve accomplished and then there are days that I focus on every single flaw.”
The toughest process for Kathleen was mentally weening herself away from unhealthy food to feed her emotions.
“The mental aspect was without a doubt the hardest thing about losing weight. Food has always been my comforter and friend,” she said.
“I would eat to celebrate, eat when I was sad, eat when I was angry, etc. Having to stop viewing food as a treat and see it more as fuel for my body was extremely hard. Now I don’t eat because it tastes good, I eat so I feel good.
“People are always shocked. I never realised how big I had gotten until I lost the weight. I didn’t have one area that was a ‘problem’ area. You can see from my pictures that everywhere was a problem area.
“My favourite though is when people tell me that what’s on the outside now matches what was on the inside because I had this big personality, but my lack of confidence always held me back.
“You have to do this for yourself. It can’t be for your family or your significant other. There are going to be days where you just want to completely give up and you have to reach deep down and pull out that inner strength that only comes from being totally committed.”
For more information visit: https://www.instagram.com/kathleeng1112/