By Kate Harrold
THIS WOMAN was worried she’d be SINGLE FOREVER until weight loss surgery transformed her love life – but she admits it’s now difficult to tell if men are only interested in HER LOOKS.
Head nutrition coach of ‘Team Fit with Me’ Sarah Doehler (33) from Gilbert, Arizona, USA, grew up feeling somewhat like the black sheep of the family.
Despite having health-conscious parents and an older brother, Sarah struggled with weight gain and began binge eating in her teens. By her early twenties, Sarah weighed 14st 4lb and would squeeze into a stretchy UK size 16 – unsure of her true size.
Sarah was an avid and professional horse rider but her active lifestyle didn’t stop her weight gain. Diet attempts turned into binge eating spirals and debilitating depression and anxiety soon began to take their toll. Fed up of the continually equalising weight gain and loss, Sarah decided that perhaps she would always be single, alone, and overweight.
She began to avoid social events and seeing friends and family. Dating became a no-go area and after several years of isolating herself, Sarah was prescribed depression, anxiety, and appetite suppressing medications to treat her devolving mental health.
Whilst on a visit to the doctors, Sarah was confronted with her 14st 4lb weight when asked to step onto the sales. Along with her aching joints, it was the wake-up call she needed, and Sarah sat crying with mum Renee, confessing that perhaps lap-band surgery was the answer to her troubles.
After just one week, Sarah had an appointment with a bariatric surgeon who recommended vertical sleeve surgery – in which the size of the stomach is reduced by up to 85 per cent to reduce appetite – and Sarah underwent the surgery two months later in August of 2016.
For the next six months, Sarah consumed just 800 calories a day and lifted weights at the gym six days a week followed by an hour of cardio. She dropped down to a super svelte 9st 4lb and wore a UK size 6 but despite her best efforts, the weight started to creep on again.
Sarah buried herself in every nutrition book she could find before coming across the work of Jason Theobald who spoke about metabolic adaptation. After extensive lab work, the duo was able to create a diet that suited Sarah’s internal and external stressors allowing her to maintain her UK size 6 figure whilst eating the recommended 2,000 calories a day.
Happier than she’s ever been, Sarah is now coaching others into becoming the best version of themselves and after spending so many years thinking she was destined to be single, Sarah hopped back on to the dating scene and met soul mate Mark Fucinari.
“I grew up in New Jersey with an older brother and parents who were very health conscious but I always felt like the black sheep as I struggled with my weight and started binge eating in my teens,” Sarah said.
“I was a professional horse rider which kept me active, yet the pounds kept creeping on.
“When I left the horse industry, I continued to gain weight and found myself weighing over fourteen-stone with debilitating anxiety and depression.
“I tried every diet out there but it was one step forward followed by three steps back. My binge eating became a daily event and I’d keep it a secret.
“Even when I was as young as twelve, I’d sneak into the kitchen in the middle of the night and gorge on anything in sight. I would eat myself sick daily, wake up filled with shame and regret, tell myself it wouldn’t happen again, then be back on the cycle by the evening.
“I’d diet and lose thirty-pounds then gain it all back. I thought I was a failure – that I had no willpower.
“My hormones were out of whack, my metabolism crashed, and my body held onto every pound for dear life.
“By my late twenties, I gave up and decided that being overweight was my fate. I would be single, alone, and overweight and this was my cross to bear.
“The anxiety and depression made it difficult to get out of bed at times. I became reclusive, had suicidal thoughts, rarely left home and felt too embarrassed to go out into the world.
“I avoided social events and friends and family. Dating was off the table. I hid in oversized clothing ashamed of where I had let myself go.
“Over the years, I spiralled and took medication for various mental health issues. I tried prescribed diet pills, but nothing worked.
“I was lucky that the people around me never made me feel any less valid or worthy because I was hard enough on myself.
“I remember stepping on the scales one day at the doctor’s office and that was my wake-up call. I was on the brink of tears. I knew I needed to find a surgeon to help me.”
Sarah was fearful that the vertical sleeve surgery she was seeking would fail too but she decided it was worth the plunge.
“I felt like I’d been given a new lease on life and a fresh start,” Sarah said.
“I had lost the bulk of my weight but then a few pounds started to creep back on. I thought I had failed – yet again.
“I reduced my food intake and increased my exercise yet still, I’d gained fifteen-pounds. I knew I needed help, but I didn’t know where to turn.
“I listened to a podcast by coach Jason Theobald. He spoke about metabolic adaptation and the impact on hormones as a result of extreme dieting. I reached out.
“Jason showed me that my struggles weren’t my fault. By implementing an integrative health approach, I was able to fix my hormones and metabolism and finally lose the weight.”
Previously, Sarah would skip breakfast and lunch and gorge on pizza, pasta, and cheese for her nightly binge dinner – unsure of her calorie intake.
Now, Sarah eats five or six small portions a day to meet the recommended 2,000 calorie daily intake. A standard meal consists of a lean protein element, clean carbs, healthy fats, and lots of green vegetables.
“I no longer struggle with anxiety or depression. I live a full and happy life,” Sarah said.
“Hiring a good coach was the best time and money I have every spent and it lead me to my true passion – serving others as a health coach.
“Helping clients succeed brings me the greatest joy. I love being able to help people get out of the dark place I used to live in.
“I’m now an optimist and know that I can achieve anything I put my mind to. I have built a beautiful life and met my soul mate Mark.
“I started putting myself back out there on the dating scene after losing the bulk of my weight.
“I was definitely more confident this time around although with the attention now focused on my looks, it was harder to tell which interactions were sincere but thankfully, I met Mark.
“Patience is the key. It’s easy to get discouraged. Take it one day at a time. Focus on what you can do today – not how far you still have to go.
“Celebrate every win that comes your way. My door is always open to help.”
For more, see www.teamfitwithme.com.