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After losing 210 lbs with walking and a low-carb diet, 1 mom has 4 pounds of skin removed

Kristi Ray Ledgerwood turned her life around with walking, a low-carb diet and medication. She’s had 4.4 pounds of loose skin removed — and has about 15 pounds to go.
Kristi Ray Ledgerwood before and after her surgery.
After losing 210 pounds, Kristi Ray Ledgerwood was left with 20 pounds of extra skin.Courtesy Kristi Ray Ledgerwood

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Kristi Ray Ledgerwood, 44, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in February 2022, and it scared her into changing her life. She had seen the impact the disease had on her family firsthand. “I lost my dad, my grandmother and another family member to diabetes,” she says. At the time, she weighed 329 pounds, could barely walk without pain, and had what she calls a “grocery list” of health problems, including arthritis in her spine.

Ledgerwood had tried many different diets and exercise plans over the years, but she was never able to stick with them. This time, her doctor recommended a low-carb diet to help control her blood sugar. “I knew my health was the most important thing. I knew I couldn’t quit,” she says.

After a diabetes diagnosis scared her, this mom lost 130 pounds and now walks 5 miles every day
After a diabetes diagnosis scared her, this mom lost 130 pounds and now walks 5 miles every day.Courtesy Kristi Ledgerwood

Thanks to the low-carb diet, a walking routine and medication, she’s lost 210 pounds and has been maintaining her weight loss for almost a year. She’s also seen these non-scale victories in her health and her life:

  • Her A1C levels, which are a marker for diabetes, are down from 8.4 to 4.5.
  • Her fasting glucose level, another indicator of diabetes, dropped from 280 to 78 to 85.
  • Her kidney function is normal.
  • The inflammation she used to notice in her body is gone.
  • She can sleep all night in bed. Before, it was so hard for her to breathe that she had to sleep upright in a chair.
  • She can walk five miles a day.
  • She can play with her 10- and 14-year-old kids in the park instead of watching them from the car. “I used to have to sit on the sidelines while they did stuff. I’m excited that I can do things with them,” she says.
  • She has more stamina. “My mom lives three hours from me, and every time she visits, she notices how much more energy I have,” she says. “She’s so proud of my progress.”
  • She no longer needs to take blood pressure medication.

Ledgerwood connects with support by sharing her struggles and successes in the Start TODAY Facebook group, which she joined after one of her friends who has diabetes posted about it. “I like how encouraging everyone in the group is. It keeps me motivated,” she says. 

After a diabetes diagnosis scared her, this mom lost 130 pounds and now walks 5 miles every day
After a diabetes diagnosis scared her, this mom lost 130 pounds and now walks 5 miles every day.Courtesy Kristi Ledgerwood

Here’s how she embraced a low-carb diet

Before, Ledgerwood was eating fast food two or three days a week, and she ate a lot of refined carbs and sugar. Now, she follows the Mediterranean diet. To control her blood sugar, she limits carbohydrates to 30 grams per meal and gets most of her carbs from whole grains, beans and veggies. Here are some of the other changes she’s made:

  • She only drinks water — 80 ounces per day. “I missed drinking soda in the beginning, but now I don’t even think about it,” she says.
  • She stopped eating white foods like pasta, rice and bread when she was losing weight. Now that she’s maintaining her weight, she eats small amounts of these foods.
  • She centers her diet around high-fiber foods, vegetables, berries and protein. She aims for 120 grams of protein per day, mainly from chicken, eggs, steak, bun-less burgers, peanut butter and protein bars or shakes.
  • Other than monitoring her carbs, she doesn’t track what she eats. “Having to track everything I put in my mouth doesn’t work for me,” she says.

In July 2022, Ledgerwood’s doctor prescribed an injectable medication used to treat adults with type 2 diabetes. Along with helping her control her diabetes, it also curbs her appetite, so she rarely snacks, and she doesn’t eat anything in the evenings after dinner at 6 p.m. Now that she no longer needs to lose weight, she has dropped to a maintenance dose of the medication, taking it every ten days instead of every seven. She’s expected to need that for life to treat her diabetes.

Once unable to make it to the mailbox, Ledgerwood now walks about 13,000 steps a day.
Once unable to make it to the mailbox, Ledgerwood now walks about 13,000 steps a day.Courtesy Kristi Ledgerwood

Here’s what she eats in a typical day

Including protein with every meal combined with the appetite-suppressing effects of the medication means Ledgerwood isn’t tempted to snack. In a day, her meals might include:

  • Breakfast: A protein drink, chia pudding, scrambled eggs or low-carb breakfast tacos.
  • Lunch: A snack plate of cheese and meat, a chicken quesadilla or a low-carb wrap with fruit and a pickle.
  • Dinner: Some type of meat and a veggie like broccoli.
Kristi Ledgerwood
Ledgerwood's first skin-removal surgery focused on her abdomen, but she plans to eventually have skin removed from her arms as well.Courtesy Kristi Ledgerwood

Here’s how she built a 5-mile-a-day walking routine

“Before, I could barely walk without being in pain. I couldn’t walk to the mailbox without everything hurting. I had to sit a lot — I would have back problems because of the arthritis in my spine,” she says.

Since walking was so difficult, she started out riding an indoor recumbent bike. As her fitness improved, she got fitted for a good pair of walking shoes, and she began walking around the track at her local high school.

“The more I walked, the less my back hurt, so I wanted to continue,” she says. She bought a treadmill, and now she gets her five miles, or about 13,000 steps, in every day. She walks in her neighborhood outside of Dallas starting at 6 a.m. and then on a treadmill later in the day.

She’s thrilled about the changes in her fitness and her health. “Now I can walk as much as I want. It’s an exciting feeling to be able to walk again. I have so much energy, I just want to walk all the time,” she says. “I really doubted I would ever achieve this, but I started out small, and here I am walking like crazy. If I can do it, anyone can.”

Kristi Ledgerwood
Losing 210 pounds left Ledgerwood with 20 pounds of extra skin.Courtesy Kristi Ledgerwood

Skin-removal surgery

Losing 200 pounds has left Ledgerwood with a lot of excess skin, mostly on her abdomen, arms and legs. “You work so hard to lose all this weight and then you’re stuck with all this skin. You can’t fit into clothes right. It’s frustrating,” she says.

She had her first skin-removal surgery on her abdomen in February, 2024. Her surgeon performed what’s called a fleur-de-lis tummy tuck (abdominplasty), which is done with a vertical incision in the middle of the abdomen and a horizontal one across the lower abdomen, leaving a scar that looks like a fleur-de-lis symbol.

Kristi Ray Ledgerwood.
Ledgerwood had 4.4 pounds of loose skin removed from her abdomen.Courtesy Kristi Ray Ledgerwood

“She removed 4.4 pounds of loose skin on my stomach. I didn’t need liposuction,” Ledgerwood says.

She says the recovery was challenging. “The first two weeks were pretty rough. I had trouble walking, I was really slow, and I had to sleep in a chair. When I could walk, I was hunched over, and it was hard to get up. I wasn’t allowed to exercise for six weeks.” But she’s happy with the results.

Ledgerwood had to pay for the surgery herself. Her insurance would have covered a different procedure, but the out-of-pocket costs would have been higher, and the procedure she chose gave her better results. “That one doesn’t do anything above the belly button. With the fleur-de-lis, I got the full tummy tuck and the muscle repair,” she says.

She’d like to have the loose skin on her arms removed next, but she wants to take a break and schedule that procedure in a couple of years.

“I’ve seen three or four different surgeons, and they say I have about 16 to 20 pounds of loose skin on me. They space out the procedures,” she says.

Kristi Ray Ledgerwood.
Kristi Ray Ledgerwood after her dramatic weight loss.Courtesy Kristi Ray Ledgerwood