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This mom lost 200 pounds by walking. Now, she’s scheduled for loose-skin surgery

Kristi Ray Ledgerwood turned her life around with walking, a low-carb diet and medication. The next step in her journey is removing 20 pounds of loose skin.

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Kristi Ray Ledgerwood, 43, 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
Ledgerwood has lost 201 pounds since her diabetes diagnosis in February 2022.Courtesy Kristi Ledgerwood

Thanks to the low-carb diet, a walking routine and medication, she’s lost 201 pounds, and she’s maintaining her weight at 128 pounds. 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 9- and 13-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
Ledgerwood use to have what she describes as a, "grocery list" of health problems.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, which she’ll need for life to treat her diabetes.

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.
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 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
Surgeons say that Ledgerwood has between 16 and 20 pounds of loose skin.Courtesy Kristi Ledgerwood

What’s next: 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. So, she’s aiming to have her first skin removal surgery, on her abdomen, in December.

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

Kristi Ledgerwood
Ledgerwood has her first skin removal surgery scheduled for December.Courtesy Kristi Ledgerwood