Building your body your way, is a series of posts exploring weight loss success stories, looking at a range of people and what worked for them. The third instalment in the series is an article looking at the success of Rachael Harper, since this article was written Rachael has had a beautiful baby girl, a follow up to this original piece will be published in the new year.
At her heaviest Rachael Harper weighed 25 stone 14lbs. After years of being unhappy and spending six years “lost in the system” trying to get weight loss surgery, she finally got the go ahead and 17 months later, 11 stone and eight dress sizes down Rachael was finally able to start living the life she always dreamed of.
Cornish born 25-year-old Rachael has struggled with her size for most of her life and states vanity was the main reason she wanted to lose weight: “I wanted to look in a mirror and think -yes you look nice. People think that is a rubbish reason but it is the truth.”
At nearly 26 stone and a UK size 28-30 Rachael suffered none of the usual health complications that come with being obese but knew it wouldn’t stay that way forever. However, rather than her health being her biggest difficulty it was in fact people: “I lost count of the amount of times people made me cry,” Rachael said, “I always wanted to maintain a social life but was constantly worried about what people would say.”
Now she has slimmed her way down to a UK size 14 she feels more comfortable and confident: “People don’t tend to notice me, I blend in,” she added.
Rachael opted for a gastric bypass in order to lose weight after years of battling food demons. A gastric bypass is a process that works by making your stomach smaller and your digestive system shorter. The operation is typically done under general anaesthetic and usually takes between one and three hours.
To anyone with the pre conceived idea that weight loss surgery is the “easy way out” – let’s make it clear that it isn’t. It is a hard often life long process challenging you both physically and mentally. For Rachael the process took six years. It involved countless appointments with; a dietician, a fitness expert, a psychiatrist, surgeons as well as other health professionals.
The process, she says, is made deliberately challenging to assess a person’s determination to go through with the surgery and change behaviour afterwards. In addition to this she also has to regularly attend support groups and had to lose two stone pre surgery.
There were of course, added risks surrounding the surgery because of Rachael’s size especially when receiving anaesthetic. “There were also risks that the joins of my stomach would leak/not heal,” she added in relation to additional possible complications.
Surgery is a drastic step but for someone who has struggled and battled on a daily basis it may be the best step to take. It is a lifestyle change, it isn’t a quick fix and no one will come along and wave a magic wand it will take determination and emotional stamina to be successful on this journey. Rachael said: “I’ve spent six years fighting for this and I’ve had to change my whole lifestyle. It’s not something that can be reversed and I will need to stick to this lifestyle forever. I appreciate it’s a drastic step but without it I can’t imagine where I’d be and what health complications I’d have.”
“My life has improved dramatically…I’ve never been happier.”
So after 17 months Rachael finally reached her goal but it wasn’t easy. Her advice to anyone on a journey: “You will have good weeks and bad weeks. Never give up – it only gets harder. Set little realistic goals and NEVER think of the total amount you have to lose.”
All the hard word, determination and struggle has paid off: “My life has improved dramatically. I’ve lost 11 stone in total and I’ve never been happier. I can now enjoy everything and be the person I always wanted to be.” Rachael also said it’s not just her reaping the benefits:
“I am a lot more positive now. I have more energy and I am a better person to be around. My confidence is at an all-time high. I believe I can do anything I set my mind to now and I’m not scared to try.”
For further information or if you are considering weight loss surgery contact you GP.