Michaela Miller weighed in at over 330lbs and knew she was headed down a bad path. Her weight gain struggles had not come on quickly, but had been a long build up throughout her childhood and teenage years and knew it would be a hard journey to reverse her years of overeating.
Growing up in Greeley, Colorado, Michaela had always struggled with her weight. Her parents, wanting to help her, tried to manage her eating and tried to put her on different diets, but these changes and restrictions had a negative impact on her relationship with food and also her relationship with her parents.
As she explains to DailyMail, ‘My adolescent life was not very healthy or active. I hopped from diet to diet under my parent’s instruction. Healthy eating and exercise felt like it was either a way to lose weight or a punishment for being overweight. I struggled to learn about proper nutrition and develop a positive relationship with food.”
Fuelled in part, by a strenuous relationship with her father, she ate as an act of rebellion and the cycle of depression and overeating continued. The more weight she gained, the more her parents pushed and eating was a source of comfort.
‘My family was hard on me about my weight and my relationship with my father suffered greatly for it. I thought that eating and gaining weight was my way of taking back control from my father. It was my way of rebelling. The more I was pushed to lose weight, the more I ate.”
The real tipping point came when she suffered a horrible, allergic reaction, which was first thought to be a heart attack. This scare caused her to realise that this would be her near future if she didn’t get her eating under control.
‘At 25, I suffered from an allergic reaction but I initially thought it was a heart attack. I was scared for my life. I was afraid of dying young, but also of never really living too.”
At the time, wearing a size 24 and weighing over 300lbs, Michaela would regularly eat fast food and her activity level was super low, due to her body being in pain and living with anxiety and depression about her body and future.
With a history of failed diets, an extremely difficult relationship with food and motivation struggles, Michaela wanted to research weight loss solutions that would put the odds in her favour and give her the best chance for success, so she opted for a self financed, vertical sleeve gastrectomy.
“It wasn’t until I decided to get weight loss surgery that I realized I was sabotaging myself. I wasn’t taking control. I was letting his toxic mind-set take control. I couldn’t do anything without being in pain, breathing heavily, or sweating. I had high anxiety and depression – I just wasn’t living. I was so young and life was passing me by.”
While she is keen to dispel the myths that surgery is a quick fix, it still takes an extreme level of dedication and self control for this to be a long term success. The surgery involves removing a small section of her stomach, meaning it would take less food for her to feel full and make it easier to control her eating habits.
“I had tried diets and tracking calories. I needed a permanent solution that I couldn’t back out of. I had read about a young woman who had a vertical sleeve surgery. My health insurance wouldn’t pay for it but I knew that this was the path for me so I was determined to finance it myself. Weight loss surgery is often viewed as the “easy way out”. Nothing I have been through and done has been easy. Weight loss surgery is only one aspect. I had to completely change my lifestyle and my relationship with food.”
While the surgery is a good start, Michaela wants to teach people it is much more than that, it requires “months of tests, thousands of dollars, a complete lifestyle overhaul and hours of therapy to mend your relationship with food.” It is not just a one day fix and you are slim forever.
After completely overhauling her diet and lifestyle, Michaela has lost over half her bodyweight and is now 150lbs and feels the bests she ever has.
‘My life is completely different now – everything is easier. From walking upstairs, to exercising, to hiking, to trying on clothes, to painting my toenails – even going to the bathroom is easier. I used to struggle to wipe my butt which is uncomfortable, but true.”
‘There are things that I could easily take for granted now, but I never want to forget the struggles I used to have and where I came from. Losing weight has freed me. I am finally able to live the life I always wanted to do. I have more confidence, less fear, and less anxiety.”
While physically, everything has been going to plan, a lot of times it can be a mental struggle for people who lose a large amount of weight in a relatively short time.
“When you’ve been fat your whole life, it takes a long time for your brain to catch up to the fact that you aren’t anymore. Even after four years, I can still have days where I feel like the biggest girl in the room. I’m working on self-love. Social media played a huge part in my self-love journey. I saw other women experiencing similar things and with similar bodies and it made me realize that I’m beautiful too.”
Sharing her journey on her hugely popular instagram: @losingtoblooming, she shared her experiences and found inspiration and motivation from others like minded accounts.
‘Loose skin, cellulite, rolls, dimples, and stretch marks are normal and none of those things detract from your beauty or worth. I worked hard for this body and I deserve to love it and feel proud and sexy, and I try to share that message with other women. The best compliments I get are when people say I look fit or strong. We have to learn that we’ve always been beautiful – thinness doesn’t change that. It’s just that we were too trapped to see it before.”
Michaela also found love with a supportive partner who shares her interest in dieting, meal prepping and staying active! As well as the physical changes, it was her new mindset and self love that allowed her to be in the right place to find her new partner.
‘Weight loss allowed me to mature and grow so I knew that I needed an active partner and that I wouldn’t just settle again. My partner is amazing. He’s my perfect match and keeps me motivated. We love to meal prep and exercise together.”
‘My biggest advice for those just beginning their weight loss journey is to just start with adding movement into your daily life. Movement is medicine and the more we move, the better we feel. The better we feel, the more likely we are to eat healthily. Focus on health and feeling better, not losing weight.”
Michaela also shared this wonderful picture guide on her Instagram for people who are considering weight loss surgery, but are worried what people in their lives will say and think:
I want Weight Loss Surgery, what will they say? What to say when people question your choice to get Weight Loss Surgery:
Reaction: You’re beautiful just as you are. You don’t need to lose weight.
Response: Thank you, I may be beautiful but I am tired, unhappy and unhealthy. This isn’t about looks. It’s about how I feel. This is what I am doing for MYSELF to feel better.
Reaction: Weight loss surgery is so drastic, you aren’t even that big.
Response: Weight loss surgery is actually a very routine procedure with a minimal hospital stay, it’s simply a medical solution to weight loss. It’s not that drastic and it’s what I am doing for MYSELF to feel better and live a healthy life.
Reaction: WLS is extreme, what about the risks?
Response: Actually WLS has very low complication/risk rate/ And a very low mortality rate/ I am at much higher risk if I continue on the path that I’m on. I need a change and WLS is my answer. I’m doing this for MYSELF to feel better and live a healthy life.
Reaction: Can’t you just go on a diet?
Response: If the dieting method worked for me, I wouldn’t need surgery. Diets are a tool to help people lose weight. WLS is just another tool but it is the one with t the highest success rate! And I want the odds in my favour! I’m doing this for MYSELF to feel better and live a healthy life. No more healthy, fad diets that don’t work!
Reaction: Oh, so you’re just going to have surgery so you don’t have to work? Isn’t it the easy way out?
Response: WLS is NOT the easy way out. This will require months of tests, thousands of dollars, a complete overhaul of my lifestyle and hours of therapy to mend my relationship with food. To be successful, I will have to work at it everyday. Again, WLS is simply a medical solution for weight loss. It provides a tool I can user the rest of my life. It has the highest rate of success amongst weight loss methods and I’m done wasn’t my time, energy and money on methods that don’t last. I’m doing this for MYSELF to feel better and live a healthy life.
Reaction: What if you gain all the weight back?
Response: That’s only possible if I let it be possible and I’m not even entertaining that possibility. As long as I do the work and use my tool right, I will have success life long! I’m doing this for MYSELF to feel better and live a healthy life.
Reaction: I want WLS but I know people will judge me. I need a change but I am afraid of what they’ll say or think
Response: Who are you living your life for? This is YOUR life! Don’t put your health and happiness in other people’s hands. Their opinion doesn’t matter. You are all that matters. You deserve to be healthy and happy. Do this for you!