By Martin Ruffell
THIS WOMAN was obese since the age of FIVE but after losing an incredible TWELVE STONE feels better than ever despite being left with layers of saggy skin – which she says she loves as it reminds her how far she’s come.
Hospice nurse and lifestyle blogger Maddie Spahr (32) from Ohio, USA, always struggled with her weight and was classed as ‘severely overweight’ from the age of five.
By the time Maddie was in her twenties, she had developed a dangerously unhealthy relationship with food, and binged on fast food, snacks and carbs for months on end, followed by crash dieting in an attempt to lose the weight she had gained. However, the weight loss never stayed off for long and at her heaviest Maddie weighed 24st 2lb and wore a UK 28 dress size.
Maddie suffered prejudice when in public and noticed people staring at her with disgusted looks on their faces. When she went clothes shopping, Maddie would often be ignored by the store attendants who knew that she was too large to fit in any of the clothes.
Maddie also found that despite her tendency to always be friendly to strangers and have a smile on her face, people wouldn’t ever reciprocate and would even avoid simple courtesies, like holding the door open for her.
The most hurtful comment she received was from people who told her ‘you have such a pretty face’ since it felt like they were saying that the rest of her body was ugly.
The turning point for Maddie’s weight loss came in October 2016, when attending a Cleveland Indians baseball game. After parking almost a mile away, Maddie was exhausted when she finally reached the stadium. On finding her seat, Maddie realised that she barely fit, with other fans beside her looking visibly uncomfortable by her mere presence.
The very next day Maddie made an appointment with a bariatric surgeon and in June 2017, underwent a gastric bypass surgery. A small pouch was created in Maddie’s stomach, which connected straight to Maddie’s small intestine, bypassing the majority of her stomach and reducing her capacity to eat lots of food as a result.
Over the next 21 months, Maddie lost an incredible 12st 2lb and today weighs 11st 11lb, fitting into a UK size 12 dress.
Since her weight loss surgery, Maddie’s life has changed dramatically for the better. She is now able to walk for miles without feeling exhausted, can play with her neighbour’s kids and has even returned to the baseball stadium in which she suffered such embarrassment four years earlier, now fitting comfortably in the seats.
After losing so much weight, Maddie has been left with folds of excess skin. Whilst for some, this would be the cause of embarrassment, Maddie loves it, since it reminds her of the amazing journey she has gone on.
She has since started her own blog and Instagram page documenting her journey and has received numerous messages from people telling her that her story has encouraged them to have bariatric surgery themselves which has changed their life forever. For Maddie, these messages make sharing her journey worthwhile.
“I have always struggled with my weight,” said Maddie.
“My primary care doctor told my mum that I was overweight and almost obese at five years old.
“I knew that I was an amazing person and always wondered why it was the one thing I couldn’t get under control.
“I could graduate from nursing school with the highest of honours, I could work thirteen hour shifts and I could make friends with anyone.
“I always had a smile on my face and always was willing and ready to help anyone with anything but I was so tired of being morbidly obese.
“I will never forget the looks people gave me.
“When I would enter a store, especially clothing stores, attendants knew I was too large to shop there, so they just wouldn’t greet me.
“People wouldn’t hold the door for me at gas stations.
“It was like I wasn’t good enough because I was in a bigger body and that hurt a lot.
“The one comment that stung the most was ‘you have such a pretty face’. Those words will never leave me.
“You are basically telling someone who is overweight that the rest of their body is undesirable and ugly.
“In October of 2016 I attended a playoff baseball game with my mum.
“We parked almost a mile away from the ballpark and by the time we got to the stadium seat, my feet ached and then I was so uncomfortable the whole game and I knew the people next to me were squished because of my size as well.
“I barely fit in the stadium seat and I knew things had to change fast for the sake of my health and quality of life.
“The next day, I called and made an appointment for a consultation with a bariatric surgeon for gastric bypass surgery.
“I had tried every diet, lifestyle, medication, even hypnotism to try and lose and maintain weight loss, but nothing had worked.
“Now, I feel amazing. Everything is just easier in a smaller body. I am able to run and chase the neighbour’s kids.
“I am able to walk miles and miles to attend baseball games and sit comfortably in a stadium seat.
“It is easier for me to do activities of daily living, such as bend down to put my shoes on and tie my shoes.
“I can work nursing shifts and my feet don’t ache. The overall quality of my life has improved so much from losing all of this excess weight. It is a whole new life.
“I do have some excess skin, but it is my favourite part of my body.
“Every stretch mark, every scar is living proof that I have lost and maintained every pound of weight loss.
“It is my battle wounds and my battle scars. I have never been more proud of saggy skin in my entire life.
“I love it so much and I never want it to go away.
“I never want someone to come to my Instagram page and think ‘she doesn’t have any excess skin’.
“I want people to know that I have skin and I am not ashamed of it.”
Before losing weight, Maddie’s diet consisted primarily of fast food, including burgers and fries and snacks including crisps, chocolate and soda totalling 3,500 calories per day. Maddie also followed diets including Atkins and an all liquid diet, but was never able to keep the weight off when these came to an end.
Maddie now typically has a protein shake and protein bar for breakfast, followed by ground beef, turkey or ham with vegetables for lunch and then meat with a baked potato and vegetables for dinner, totalling roughly 1,300 calories per day.
Maddie hopes that by sharing her story, she can continue to spread the message that change is possible if people are willing to embrace it. Whilst she admits that surgery might not be right for everyone, she is keen to let people know that it has forever changed her life for the better.
“I had no plans on sharing my journey publicly,” Maddie said.
“But sharing my journey and giving others hope about this surgery has changed me.
“I thought that I was a lost cause at three-hundred and thirty-eight pounds and to be able to let others know that they aren’t, if they are considering bariatric surgery is just amazing.
“If you are not interested in bariatric surgery, find a plan that works for you.
“I have had to change my entire life since surgery.
“But doing so has been the answer for me.”
For more information, see www.mediadrumworld.com.