Weight Loss Tips From Mom Who Lost 180 Pounds

By the time she reached 300 pounds, Whitley Yates started to lose some of the feeling in her legs from the knees down — a frightening complication of diabetes.

The results of her A1C — a blood test that measures average blood sugar levels over the past three months — indicated Type 2 diabetes as well.

“I was really scared because all the men in my family have diabetes. My grandfather has had amputations because of diabetes,” Yates, 34, who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, tells TODAY.com.

“I didn’t know if I could walk… I’m a single mother and I had to make a change, not just for me, but for (my daughter) as well, so that I could be around to raise her.”

So the political commentator set out to lose weight — a journey that would lead to big lifestyle changes, surgery and a new way of looking at food.

Yates now weighs 120 pounds, less than half of her highest weight. At 5 feet, 2 inches tall, she has a normal BMI and is no longer diabetic. She has feelings in her legs again, she says.

Here’s how Yates got her health back on track:

Weight gain:

Yates says she began gaining weight after giving birth to her daughter in 2015.

She also slipped into a depression after moving from Los Angeles back to Indianapolis, her hometown, to get distance from an abusive relationship.

“I began to just emotionally eat to cope with the circumstances of my changing situation,” Yates recalls. “It was really about portions. I was eating like two dinners a day — two really large meals.”

She might eat a 16-piece chicken wing meal, for example, and then dine on lamb chops later. There was lots of fast food from McDonald’s and Wendy’s. Yates never cooked, preferring to eat out every day.

As her weight rose, Yates developed sleep apnea and had to use a CPAP machine. She was out of breath and lethargic. There were no full-length mirrors in her home because she didn’t like the way she looked.

But it was the diabetic neuropathy in her legs — nerve damage caused by a high blood sugar level — that worried her the most.

Steps toward weight loss and a setback:

Yates hired a personal trainer and began working out three times a week. But it was hard to out-exercise a bad diet, so she didn’t see any results, she says.

When Yates wasn’t able to lose weight on her own, her primary care doctor recommended joining the weight loss program at a local hospital. It was also a prerequisite for bariatric surgery, which Yates sought to get.

As part of the program, she attended classes that shed light on proper nutrition, people’s complicated relationship with food and stress coping mechanisms. She kept a food diary, worked out, and met with a dietitian and a psychologist.

In eight months, Yates lost 60 pounds. But when her health insurance declined to cover bariatric surgery, she went back to her bad eating habits and regained all of the weight. “It was bad,” she says.

Weight-loss success:

Still determined to make a change, Yates started going to classes again at her local hospital. When open enrollment came around at her work place, she switched health insurance companies and reapplied for weight loss surgery. This time, she was approved.

Yates underwent a vertical sleeve gastrectomy in June 2020. During the procedure, doctors remove most of the stomach, creating a new pouch the size of a banana, according to the National Library of Medicine. Patients feel full after eating a very small amount of food.

Three years later, Yates weighs about 120 pounds, down 180 from her highest weight. She says she’s no longer diabetic and no longer has to sleep with a CPAP machine.

Up to a quarter of bariatric surgery patients regain “considerable” weight, studies have found, so she has made big changes in her life to prevent that from happening.

Regular workouts to build muscle and tone her body have been essential and therapeutic. Yates also now looks at food as something that helps her live, not provide happiness or stress relief.

She noticed that whenever her friends wanted to get together, it always involved a restaurant, so she began to find other fun activities for them to do “where there weren’t plates in front of us,” like doing the Canal Walk in Indianapolis or going axe throwing.

“I didn’t want to eat around other people because it would bring up questions like ‘Is that all you’re going to get?’” she says. “I had to reframe how I celebrate and what I consider fun.”

Yates now cooks at home more. When she eats out, fast food is no longer on the menu. Instead, she focuses on nicer restaurants and orders healthier options like seafood. Breakfast may be an egg and sautéed spinach.

Yates prioritizes protein at every meal because it’s needed to build muscle and other body tissues, and she only has a limited space in her stomach.

“My entire life has completely changed how I approach situations and how I plan,” she says. “I’m not afraid to create what I need to stay on my path.”

This content was originally published here.

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