By Alyce Collins
THIS BRITISH woman was placed on a diet at TEN YEARS OLD and felt so ashamed of her SIZE THIRTY-TWO shape she underwent gastric sleeve surgery and now she hopes to end the ‘TABOO’ surrounding weight loss surgery.
Recruitment consultant, Imogen Wilson (26) from Crawley, West Sussex, UK, grew up knowing she was heavier than most children her age but her weight started increasing from the age of eight years old and by the time she was 10, Imogen was placed on a diet.
Over the years, Imogen lost her self-confidence, becoming increasingly ashamed of her figure and she lost hope of ever feeling ‘normal’. She was too scared to do anything social due to the crippling fear of anyone looking at her 25 stone frame which she tried to conceal under size 32 clothing.
Imogen tried calorie counting but admits that she has always faced a losing battle with her weight, which led her to avoid travelling as she was afraid of sitting in a plane seat, and she refused to date.
In early 2018, Imogen decided she’d had enough of shying away from life and she felt compelled to make a change, leading her to research weight loss surgery. She had previously feared weight loss surgery because she assumed, she wouldn’t be able to eat normally after, but upon looking into it she realised this wasn’t the case.
In May 2018, Imogen paid £10K for a gastric sleeve and she has since shed an incredible 10 stone and she now weighs 15 stone, while her confidence has soared as she’s now able to go into shops and buy size 16 clothes.
“My weight was a concern pretty much from birth, but I started putting weight on properly from the age of eight and was on a diet by the time I was 10,” said Imogen.
“I was very overweight from a young age and I always struggled. Growing up, I saw doctors and dieticians, but nothing really helped.
“As a child, I was told ‘eat less, move more’. I was also told to keep a food diary which was assessed. I was a very fit and active child, and always fought to lose weight, but it was a losing battle.
“I was put on a diet from around 10, mainly eating fresh food. I had tuna salad every day at school, to the point my friends convinced themselves I would get mercury poisoning as I ate it so often.
“By the time I left school, I had given up hope of ever being ‘normal’. My weight affected every aspect of my life; I suffered from a crippling lack of self-confidence, I became so ashamed, I was scared to do almost anything. Even sitting in a room with people made me uncomfortable because I knew they were looking at me.
“My diet has always been general calorie counting and carb restriction. Whenever I came off a strict diet, the weight would pile on – my record is putting on a stone and a half in two weeks. My body always seemed to fight against me.
“I always felt different. I couldn’t participate in group activities. I was always embarrassed and shy, so I never did anything out of my comfort zone.
“My weight impacted every single aspect of my life. I haven’t travelled for 10 years because I was so scared of the plane seats. I avoided dating completely as I was so embarrassed, and I never pursued a career because I just didn’t have the confidence.”
After researching weight loss surgery in depth, Imogen opted for a gastric sleeve rather than a gastric bypass as her young age was an important factor, and she didn’t want to live with the restrictions of a gastric bypass for the rest of her life.
The surgery and subsequent weight loss have drastically changed how Imogen views herself as now she feels confident and proud of herself every day. Now she regularly works out in the gym and completed a 10K race, much to her own amazement.
“One day, I simply decided to do something about it and I started researching weight loss surgery. I always thought it was a massive, life changing surgery and I wouldn’t be able to eat normally again, but after meeting with my incredible bariatric surgeon, I knew there was nothing to be scared of,” she said.
“I had a gastric sleeve in May 2018 privately for £10K and have since lost 10 stone. The sleeve is an incredible procedure. They remove 80 per cent of your stomach so you can only eat small portions, but more importantly, it removes the portion of your stomach that produces the hunger hormone, so you don’t feel hungry.
“It also speeds up the digestive process and therefore speeds up the metabolic rate. All of this comes together to help you lose weight. A day after the surgery I felt back to normal and was back at work a week later.
“After surgery, as there isn’t much room, you focus on eating protein. I joined a gym after one week and eight days post-op I was swimming. This has developed into a love of exercise and now I go the gym all the time and recently completed a 10K race, but before I couldn’t even run for 10 seconds.
“Surgery has given me the chance to lose weight. I tried so many times and the weight always went back on, but this has given me the shot I needed. You still have to diet and exercise, it just changes your metabolism to make the weight loss achievable.
“I respect myself now. I’m worth more than I settled for. I am confident and I am proud of who I’ve become. I can now truly say I’m happy, and my life is a complete joy. Every day I wake up with a smile on my face. I have made so many new friends as part of my bariatric support group, my family are proud of me and finally, I have lost that feeling of shame.
“Don’t waste a second of your life. Being overweight is cruel, but there’s an answer. I am so lucky I chose to have this surgery at a young age because now I have a future. You could spend the rest of your life on a diet, and the chances are you won’t lose the weight, this is a real chance to fix it once and for all.
“I want to spread the word about the gastric sleeve because it seems such a taboo subject. If you have a cataract, you get it fixed, if you’re obese, equally, it needs to be fixed. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Saving your life is something to be proud of, and I want to shout it from the rooftops.”
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