By Scott Thompson
MEET THE woman who was once THROWN OUT of a pizza buffet because the owner said she’d had her ‘fair share’ and who was constantly mistaken for being PREGNANT because of her size – but has since taken control of her weight and lost over SEVENTEEN-STONE claiming she’s lost JEALOUS friends because of it.
Program manager, Rachel Hallgren (44) from Folsom, California, USA, barely ever touched fresh fruits or vegetables in over 20 years and was in complete denial about how big she had become as she allowed the pounds to pile on. Her favourite food was instant ramen noodles and she would usually have three packs for lunch per day or a large pasta meal.
Rachel never weighed herself at home but was pushed onto the scales during a doctor’s visit in January 2015 where she tipped the scales at over 25st and a dress size 28 (now size eight). Rachel refused that she had a problem with her weight, even though the doctors told her she was the perfect candidate for a gastric band.
Every time she went to the doctor she was given a diagnosis that was directly related to her weight, but she refused to accept it. She had plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation of the tendons on the bottom of the feet, she had leg discolouration, high blood pressure and heart palpitations.
Rachel was mistaken for being pregnant more than once, refused entry onto the Ferris wheel, told she’d had her ‘fair share’ at a pizza buffet and even her friend’s car had the ‘last laugh’ as it struggled to accommodate her large figure.
On March 1, 2015, Rachel found out her grandmother was dying, and she realised she had no control over anything. From that moment she decided she needed to make a change and by the time her grandmother passed away a month later, she had already lost 1st 7lb and was determined to keep going. Over 18 months she lost 12.5st and has managed to stay at 12.5st ever since.
“I have been morbidly obese my entire adult life. I never learned to cook so my diet consisted of lots of fast food and I loved ramen noodles and pasta,” Rachel said.
“Over 20 years I put on over 14 stone. Every time I went to the doctors, they would lecture me about how I was basically going to die within months.
“He said I was a candidate for gastric bypass, and I needed to seriously consider it. I found him to be seriously dramatic and immediately changed doctor after that visit. I was in serious denial about my weight issue.
“I had plantar fasciitis, serious discolouration in my legs, high blood pressure, heart palpitations. All weight related. Every time I went to the doctor with an issue the answer was ‘lose weight’.
“I was asked if I was pregnant many times (I never was) I was turned away from a Ferris wheel because I was ‘way too big.’ Couldn’t buckle the seatbelt in a co-worker’s car on the way to lunch and the whole car cracked up laughing at me. A guy came up to me at a fast food counter and told me I had a tear in the seat of my pants.
“The worst thing I remember was at a pizza buffet one of the owners came to our table and said that we had to leave because we’d had our share.
“I used to eat 3 packs of ramen noodles for lunch every day. That was my favourite! Any kind of pasta though was good!.
“My grandma was in the hospital dying and I had no control over anything.
“Then on March 1, 2015 I started my journey. I wanted to be more in control of myself and what I was putting in my mouth was something I could do to get started. She passed away 30 days after and I had already lost twenty-one-and-a-half stone.”
Despite losing many friends to jealousy, since losing all the weight, Rachel has gained so much confidence. She doesn’t feel so insecure about herself and has learnt to love herself.
She feels empowered from learning how to read labels and the content of foods. She has learnt to listen to her body and lets it tell her what she needs and when. She now drinks lots of water and for the first time in 20 years eats plenty of fruit, vegetables and salad.
Although some of her friends found it difficult to lose weight they have been inspired by her journey and often ask her for advice and tips.
“As soon as some of my friends saw me changing and gaining confidence and wearing updated clothing, they didn’t want to be around me anymore. Lots of our encounters revolved around food before and as soon as they realised I wasn’t going to eat they stopped inviting me,” Rachel said.
“I’m the same person I’ve always been, I just went from a pant size 28 to size eight, but others get intimidated by the confidence and pride that comes out when someone takes on this kind of journey.
“Knowing the nutritional value of food is empowering. Reading labels is enlightening. Cooking at home is my favourite thing. As a society we are programmed to eat three meals and two snacks a day. That’s a lot of food if we aren’t being active. I have learned to listen to my body. I drink lots of water, don’t mindlessly snack, plan my meals for the week, and use lots of fresh veggies.”.
Rachel posts about her journey through Instagram and offers a few tips for anyone who is in a similar situation as she was.
“Take it one day at a time and remember that you’re not going to lose it all over night. I would suggest that you don’t weigh yourself every day. Our bodies are in constant flux with fluids and it’s easy to be discouraged seeing a gain, no matter how small. Remain consistent and avoid the urge to treat yourself with food as it can be a slippery slope.” Rachel said.
“The biggest thing that I learned was that weight loss starts in the kitchen not the gym. Start with your meals, whether it’s counting calories, macros, weight watcher points or whatever you need to do.
“Get your food choices nailed down first before anything else and keep it simple.”
A link to the contributor’s Instagram.