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When then 20-year-old Chenise Nupp visited her doctor, she felt shocked to learn that she needed high blood pressure medication and was pre-diabetic. Even though she knew she was “plus-size,” she never thought that the 285 pounds she carried on her 5-foot-8-inch body could affect her health at such a young age.
“I can’t believe I am 20 years old and I am having to take high blood pressure medications,” the now 24-year-old recalled thinking.
But losing weight felt impossible. She had been overweight ever since her parents divorced when she was a toddler, and they gave her food to help her cope with her emotions. A few times she lost weight with crash dieting but she always gained it back — and then some.
“I thought there was nothing I could do. I was always going to be overweight,” she said.
It seemed hopeless, but then a co-worker at her office in Casper, Wyoming, mentioned that her husband recently had weight-loss surgery and was shedding pounds. Nupp decided to visit a doctor for a consultation. For her doctor to perform the surgery, she first had to lose between 10 and 15 pounds.
“They want to know, obviously, you are going to make the changes or surgery won’t work,” she said.
Nupp started by cutting carbs and soda and doing some low-impact exercise, such as swimming and walking. She lost exactly 15 pounds and had a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy in November 2015. The first few weeks following the surgery, she needed to follow a liquid diet.
Since then she’s stuck to the high-protein, low-carb diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. She's also continued exercising by swimming, walking her dogs and playing recreational volleyball.
“I am basically walking proof that you do not have to go to the gym for it to work,” she said. "As long as you are not sitting on the couch.”
In total, Nupp has lost 110 pounds. Often people tell her they think weight-loss surgery is easy, but she says that she eats healthy and exercises, just like anyone who loses and maintains weight loss.
“It is not a one day fix. You have to change,” she said. “Putting in the work, it will pay off.”
While her original goal was to weigh 185 pounds — the thinnest she would have ever been as an adult— she now hopes to get to 165.
“I’m trying to lose those last 10 pounds so I can say ‘Yes, I am a healthy weight,’” she said.
Since losing the weight, Nupp has been traveling frequently, feels more open to opportunities and has learned more about herself.
“My weight was holding me back,” she said. “But you can accomplish your goals.”
Nupp, who no longer requires any medications, shares advice to others who want to shed weight.
1. Listen to your body.
Nupp doesn’t skip cake during the office birthday celebrations or completely avoid snack foods. But she does pay attention to when she feels full and stops eating.
“It is a matter of moderation. You don’t have to have two pieces of cake,” she said. “Listen to your body to know when you are full.”
2. Find support.
Many people felt that Nupp would not succeed in losing weight, which discouraged her. But she had a few close friends who acted as cheerleaders and inspired her to eat healthy and exercise.
“It really helped me stay on track and remember why I was doing it,” she said.
3. Say goodbye to toxic foods.
When it came to sugary drinks, Nupp felt a weakness for them. She knew she could have them in moderation, but she decided to cut them completely from her diet.
“Be willing to give things up because there are certain things that maybe are triggers for you. You may not be able to handle them anymore,” she said.