By Alyce Collins
WEIGHING a massive TWENTY-NINE STONE caused this woman to LASH OUT at her husband when she couldn’t keep up with him during a WEDDING ANNIVERSARY TRIP and even though she tried dieting it only led to her feeling so hungry that she’d finish her own meal AS WELL AS HIS – but after finally realising the impact her weight was having on her life and marriage she opted for weight loss surgery which has made her feel secure in her relationship.
Media consultant, Shelby Villatoro (25) from Orlando, Florida, USA, had always been overweight, weighing 12st when she was 12 years old. As a teenager, Shelby tried to lose weight through fad diets but couldn’t sustain it and her weight continued to creep up.
Shelby admits that large portions and a lack of fresh produce throughout her childhood and no education on proper nutrition led to her awful eating habits, and by the time she left school Shelby tipped the scale at 14 stone.
Shelby and her husband, Hugo (27) celebrated their first wedding anniversary in January 2017 with a trip to Seattle, but the week was marred by Shelby’s weight which caused her pain and stopped her from completing plans. After a day of walking, Shelby returned to the hotel with swollen ankles and sore muscles, and she was brought to tears attempting to complete an uphill walk to a viewing platform and had to sit it out.
The trip took Shelby to her breaking point and when she returned home, she immediately made an appointment with her doctor about kickstarting her weight loss. During the appointment, Shelby had to stand on the scales and saw her highest ever weight of 29st 3lb.
Shelby was wearing UK size 32 clothes and felt ashamed of her weight. She started a diet plan consisting of lean protein, vegetables and fruit every day but constantly felt hungry. In two months, Shelby lost nearly a stone and a half, but she still felt defeated by how far she had to go to reach a healthy weight. There didn’t seem to be an end in sight, so Shelby started looking into weight loss surgery to help her get there.
In July 2017, Shelby started a six-month program to prove she could make long-term lifestyle changes ahead of undergoing bariatric surgery on January 30, 2018. The changes she had made to her diet prior to surgery made it easier for Shelby to adjust to smaller portions and healthier meals. In the first year after surgery, Shelby lost an incredible 10st and now weighs 14st 5lb, wearing a UK size 16.
“I have always been overweight, the lowest weight I can remember being is 12 stone at the age of 12,” said Shelby.
“My eating habits were awful as I didn’t learn about nutrition growing up, so I ate giant portions and the only vegetables I ate were canned and slathered in butter.
“I stayed active in school through sports, but when I graduated, I started putting on more weight. I tried to diet occasionally, but never sustained any weight loss – I realise now that I wasn’t dieting properly.
“I didn’t notice my weight being so high unless there was physical activity I couldn’t do. For a long time, I thought I still enjoyed myself, still went out with friends and was confident for a long time. It wasn’t until I lost the weight that I realised how much I had shrunk myself once I reached my highest weight, avoiding social situations and deliberately stayed home.
“In January 2017, my husband and I were celebrating our anniversary in Seattle but for the entire week I was too tired to do much and skipped out on activities. I stayed in the hotel room because my ankles were so swollen from walking. My weight ruined the entire trip.
“It was off to a bad start when our luggage got delayed for a day and I couldn’t just go into any shop to buy clothes that fit me. I washed my clothes in the sink and hung them out to dry.
“There was a park that was up a hill and it has an amazing view. I was sobbing in pain and when we reached the top, I couldn’t make it up the stairs to the actual park – Hugo went up without me because I begged him to. I never saw the view.
“We struggled to fit into bus seats together and the active things that I wanted to do took a toll on me. Not only was it awful for me, but I was lashing out at Hugo because of my own shame.
“This was my breaking point and I realised how many things my weight impacted. I avoided restaurants with seats that had armrests, I made excuses for why I couldn’t join people at events, and I was too large to use the treadmills at the gym. I could make excuses for all those things, but I hadn’t realised the impact it truly had on my life until the Seattle trip.
“When we got back, I saw my doctor and discussed the best way to get my health back. I weighed in at my highest weight and was in absolute shock. I squeezed into a size 32 and even then, certain styles didn’t fit.
“I ate out a lot and had multiple courses, and even finished off Hugo’s food too. I ate a large ten-piece nugget meal with four packs of sauce, a large fry and large drink.
“My doctor gave me a diet and exercise plan with each meal consisting of four ounces of lean protein, eight ounces of vegetables and a piece of fruit. I could have one snack of fruit a day. I struggled because I felt hungry all the time and was never satisfied.”
Shelby started going on brisk walks to raise her heartbeat for 30 minutes a day which helped her lose over a stone in two months. However, she knew that weight loss surgery would be beneficial for her to shed the rest of the weight, so after toying with the idea of surgery she eventually opted for it.
Since having surgery in 2018 and halving her weight, Shelby admits that she feels like a new person and loves the way she looks. The determination she showed to her weight loss is a change she will carry through the rest of her life.
“The weight loss has just made everything so much better for us. Our date nights no longer focus on going out to dinner. Instead, we embrace new adventures like biking new trails, ice skating and going to theme parks to ride rollercoasters,” Shelby said.
“I am more confident and happier with myself, which has made me feel more secure in our relationship. We are truly best friends and he has (literally) loved me through thick and thin.
“My diet has completely changed since having gastric bypass surgery. Protein is important, so each meal is centred around lean protein. I have cottage cheese and yogurt for breakfast, with grilled chicken and turkey dominating most of my other meals.
“I fell in love with cauliflower rice and eat it with almost everything. I stay away from a lot of things with sugar, I have a protein shake every day and take vitamins to supplement what I can’t absorb from food.
“I have a weekly 30-minute strength training session with a personal trainer who has helped me gain back muscle. I try to make a conscious effort to work out at least three times a week. The biggest change has been pursuing an active lifestyle – walking to places, parking further from the front door and taking walks throughout the day. I used to go to bed at night having done less than 2,000 steps a day, but now I average 11,000 steps a day.
“I still struggle to notice just how much weight I’ve lost, but I feel like an entirely new person. I’m beyond thrilled with the way I look and, more importantly, the way I feel. It’s like I aged backwards. I am healthier than I’ve ever been.
“Now, over a year and a half since the surgery, I have little restriction in terms of what I can eat, but I make a conscious effort to put in the work both in the kitchen and in the gym to see results as I’ve seen plenty of people regain their weight after weight loss surgery. My commitment to a healthier lifestyle is why I continue to lose weight and it’s a lifestyle change that I will continue for the rest of my life.
“Surgery has helped me learn who I am as a person. I no longer go out of my way to impress people, to prove that I’m more than just the biggest person in the room.”
To see more, visit www.instagram.com/subtractingshelby