By Liana Jacob
MEET THE woman who was FAT SHAMED by her family to the point where she didn’t want to EXIST anymore and has now shed nearly HALF her bodyweight – but has been left with excess skin that she is looking to remove.
SEO strategist, Amanda Eltaher (29), from New York, USA, was brought up in an Italian household that loved their food and she found herself indulging in pasta regularly.
Her peak weight of 17st 4Ib and a UK size 26 prompted her family to berate her for her size, call her ‘fat’ and told her that she would never find love if she didn’t lose the weight. These comments caused her to feel so insecure that she didn’t want to live anymore.
Despite trying various weight loss methods and programmes including Weight Watchers nothing helped Amanda lose weight and she was eventually told by doctors that she had a high risk of developing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and diabetes.
This motivated her to try a vertical sleeve gastrectomy, a procedure where 80 percent of the stomach is removed which limits the amount of food you can eat to only 4oz.
The surgery helped her reduce her weight to a healthy 9st 1Ib and a UK size six to eight but now she is left with excess skin that has made her feel self-conscious. Due to the discomforts she is experiencing such as pain, a rash and wearing compression garments, Amanda is trying to raise money on Go Fund Me to remove the loose skin.
“Family influence, growing up in an Italian household where we ate pasta a lot lead to my previous weight,” Amanda said.
“Severe depression and PTSD that stemmed from physical and verbal/emotional abuse in the home from a young age was also a big factor.
“It made me hate myself and feel like I was worthless. I felt like my only goal in life was to lose weight in order for people to like me.
“I hated myself, I hated my body, I felt worthless and I often wished that I didn’t exist anymore. I was depressed and never understood what people meant when they said that you have to learn how to love yourself; the concept of loving myself was so foreign to me.
“My family would make all sorts of comments from ‘you’re never going to find a man or husband if you don’t lose weight’ to ‘stop being lazy’.
“They would also say, ‘you’ll never have a career if you don’t lose weight’, ‘no one will ever have kids with you if you don’t lose weight’, ‘you would be so beautiful if you would just lose the weight’.
“I don’t really know that I ever dealt with the pain that I felt until I began my weight loss journey through therapy. I cried often because I hated who I was, and I just wanted to isolate myself.
“I tried every meal plan, exercise regimen, multiple attempts at Weight Watchers, with no success. It wasn’t until I was borderline PCOS and pre-diabetic that I decided I needed to do something extreme.
“I did not want my lifelong struggle with my weight to be what I was known for. I wanted to be healthy, I wanted to have a family, and I just wanted to be happy and learn how to love myself.
“I had weight loss surgery called vertical sleeve gastrectomy; it is a restrictive procedure where they remove eighty percent of your stomach and everything surrounding your diet must be very slowly reintroduced and relearned.
“My weight loss surgery was extremely hard. I went into it thinking it was the ‘easy way out’, but to be honest diet and exercise would have been easier.
“Dumping syndrome often caused me massive amounts of pain no matter what or how little I ate. I also had to give up carbonated beverages for life per my surgeon.”
Amanda says that while her excess skin causes constant discomfort, losing the weight has vastly improved her health and she is no long at risk for PCOS and diabetes.
She now plans to get surgery to remove her loose skin to fully feel the benefit and feel confident enough to date and live a normal life.
“Losing weight has drastically improved my health. I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been. I’m no longer at risk for PCOS or diabetes,” she said.
“Through years of therapy, I finally can say that I love myself. I finally understand what it means to love myself.
“I no longer feel worthless, I’m happy, and I am making the most of my life. Shopping is enjoyable for the first time in my life.
“Having the excess skin removed is important to me because despite my weight loss, my body still looks the same, just smaller.
“The loose skin makes me feel extremely insecure about myself and it causes me a lot of pain in my day to day life. At five-foot-two, I never realised how tiny my frame was until the weight came off.
“With gravity pulling on my skin constantly; compression garments have become a staple in my wardrobe. My skin is often sore, sweaty, and develops rashes because of how much skin I have been left with.
“My body is totally (in my opinion) disfigured and I am in major need of reconstruction. Working out is extremely uncomfortable as I have to tuck my skin into compression gear.
“Even with tucking my skin inside of my clothes, the friction combined with sweating just leaves my skin sore and covered in a rash.
“The excess skin also makes it very hard to date or attempt to date because people are still very judgmental even in 2019.
“Even if I were to meet a man, I would be very deterred from being intimate with him because of the skin. Having the skin removed would mean the world to me.
“I would no longer be in pain, which is my biggest concern, and I would finally feel like a normal woman, something that I have no idea what it feels like.
“My exercise routine has not changed that much. I was always an active person even before surgery. My diet has changed drastically. I do not drink any carbonated beverages – ever.
“I eat a lot more fruits and vegetables. I eat low carb and hardly any meat. I feel so much better, I feel more energetic, and I feel healthier.
“I also rarely drink alcohol, but again, this was something before surgery as well. Protein shakes have become a regular part of my diet post op.
“People tell me how great I look, that I am an inspiration and that I look like a totally different person. I agree on all points except the inspiration part.
“I feel like I made a decision to better my life; I felt like I was in a place where I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t healthy, and I did what I needed to do in order to change that for the better.
“To anyone struggling with weight loss, I would say explore all of your options; don’t listen to what friends and family say. At the end of the day this is your life, not theirs and the only person who matters is you.
“Your happiness is the only thing that matters when it comes to your personal struggles, whether it be weight loss or otherwise.”
For more information visit: www.gofundme.com/help-mandy-ditch-the-skin