Hello, my name is Chanda and I’m a 41yr old, mother of 7 who use to weigh 545lbs. I’ve been overweight for over 30 years. The school nurses called my mom in for a meeting when I was 9 after a physical where I weighed in at a little over 200 pounds. I was constantly teased and bullied, which just made me want to eat more. My father was an alcoholic and my home life was unstable. I was the oldest of seven children, and I was constantly blamed for my siblings actions. By the age of ten, things had gotten worse. My baby sister died. I was devastated. To see my mother so distraught and sad just made me feel helpless. I found comfort only when I ate certain foods. Anything that was sweet. Sugar was my weakness. I was addicted to candy, donuts, pies, sodas, cake, etc.
By the age of 25 I was over 450 pounds! I suffered with chronic headaches, high blood pressure, and severe back pain. I could barely keep up when I went to nursing school. Clinical’s wore me out, so I missed classes a lot. I was about to get kicked out of nursing school due to my repeated absences, so I decided to go see a Doctor about getting the gastric bypass. During my consultation, the Doctor informed me that I was too big to get it done and that I needed to lose at least 50 lbs first. I left the office feeling hopeless. If I could just up and lose 50lbs why would I even need the surgery? Also, who knew that you could be “too big” to have weight loss surgery? I was so confused after that consultation.
I did end up graduating nursing school at the top of my class but it was painful due to my extreme size. I had to have my gown specially made for graduation. I was so big and out of shape, that by the time I finished walking the stage I was so out of breath that I had to pause walking back down the steps. I bent over and acted like I was picking up something off of the floor just to deep breathe and try to catch my breath. I decided right at that moment that my life shouldn’t be so miserable and that I was going to lose weight.
I was doing good, and started losing weight by counting calories. I stayed under 1000 calories per day, and got down to 410 lbs. Shortly after hitting that weight, I met the man of my dreams. We got married seven months later, and I ended up getting pregnant with twins on our honeymoon. Now, I had been married before, and pregnant numerous times, but this pregnancy nearly killed me. I went from 410lbs up to 500lbs by the time I was 6 months pregnant. I couldn’t breathe well, it hurt to walk, I developed sleep apnea, and a part of my stomach got very hard and dark and I could no longer feel anything in that area. My daughter had to help wash my backside because I couldn’t reach back there. At 7 months the babies came. 2 fraternal boys weighing in at 6lbs 5oz and 5lbs 11oz. The Doctors were amazed at how big they were for being 2 months premature! I didn’t get to hold them right away though. I had been given epidural and morphine based on my weight. It ended up being way too much and I stopped breathing. I don’t know what happened after that because I woke up 24 hours later, in the intensive care unit. My Doctor later told me that I “almost died on her.”
After having the twins I weighed in at 545lbs. I was shocked when the nurse had to get a special scale to weigh me. I also needed a special bed that they ordered for me. When they rolled that bed into the room I thought that they had lost their minds! It’s no way that I was that big! However, once the four or five nurses helped me into it, I could hardly fit. My hips were touching both sides. All that I could think about was the shows like my 600lb life. I was now that person and it sickened me. I vowed to myself to get right back to losing weight and that’s just what I did. I got busy again counting calories. I worked hard going to the gym to do water aerobics and the elliptical. After a year I had lost 100 pounds but then it just stopped. I weighed between 430lbs 465lbs for 9 years. Always losing and regaining the same 25-30lbs. Always on a diet, counting calories. I stayed active but it wasn’t enough. I would still eat sugary treats. I would make it fit into my calories at times even if that meant that my only meal was donuts. I tried weight watchers, Jenny Craig, medifast, slimfast, lean cuisine, etc. I spent thousands on those programs yet always found myself back to cheating with sweets.
On May 7, 2015, my darling husband took his own life. He shot himself in the head behind his old church home. My entire World crumbled. We had been together for 10 years. Inseparable. I had no idea that he was depressed and suicidal! I beat myself up over it..how could I miss the signs? I became depressed and withdrawn. My life literally changed overnight. I didn’t have answers for the children, I didn’t know how I was going to keep our house or pay the bills. I missed my soulmate! People were so mean and negative and I had little support emotionally. My late husband had a huge YouTube presence and once word got out that he had killed himself, the nasty comments started. Even to this day it’s sad when one of my twins come to me reading some of it.
I had to get away. I found myself having very dark thoughts and not wanting to get out of the bed most days. I knew that I had to do better. My children definitely were my motivation. They had already lost their father, I didn’t want them to lose their mother too. I looked up weight loss resorts and found one in Florida. I took my children and we left. We stayed there for 6weeks. I had lost weight from depression and not eating so when I got to the resort I weighed 415lbs. While there they fed me 3 meals per day, 2snacks and we worked out for a minimum of 3 hours daily. I also attended lectures and classes. By the end of the 6 weeks I weighed 398lbs. I felt better emotionally, and decided that I was ready to go back home to Virginia.
Once back, I started researching everything related to food and exercise. I read a book titled wheat belly and it changed my life! The food industry can’t be trusted. Sugar is added to so many products to cause us to become addicted and to keep buying it. I also learned that counting calories will not always work if you are still eating foods that spike your insulin. So I gave up gluten and went low carb. I also started going to the gym 5-6 days a week. I did crossfit, and worked with a couple of personal trainers. After awhile though, I just stuck with exercises that I love which was and still is Zumba, walking nature trails, Nia, playing tennis, and bowling. I’m truly amazed at how far I have come and give all the glory and credit to God.
Today I weigh 321lbs and I refuse to ever give up! My hope and prayer is that I can use my journey to inspire others to never give up. That even if it takes years, and many obstacles and unexpected life events, the end result is still so worth fighting for. My advice to everyone is to believe in yourself. This journey is mental before it’s anything else. Don’t let momentary pleasures derail your long term goals. Stay focused, stay disciplined, and fight for your life!