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Gastric bypass surgery and the keto diet helped one woman shed 146 pounds: 'This changed my life'

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  • Kimberly Thompson
    American musician

Wellness Wins is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.

Kimberly Thompson is 5 feet 5 inches tall and currently weighs 150 pounds. In 2016, she underwent gastric bypass surgery and committed to a lifestyle change after realizing the harm her weight was causing to her health and her life. This is the story of her weight-loss journey.

Kimberly Thompson before and after gastric bypass surgery and lifestyle changes. (Photos: Courtesy of Kimberly Thompson)
Kimberly Thompson before and after gastric bypass surgery and lifestyle changes. (Photos: Courtesy of Kimberly Thompson)

The turning point

My weight was always an issue. I was never the “thin girl.” Even in high school I was bigger, and food was a comfort. Exercise and moving were not my favorites, but something sweet and full of carbs brought me a measure of comfort. As I got older, my weight just continued to grow, especially after having kids.

My turning point started when I woke up and was struggling to fit into my favorite shirt. The 2XL wasn’t fitting me, the 3XL was getting tight, and I was looking at 4XL shirts, trying to convince myself that they were “cute,” and that I wasn’t “that big.”

I went online and read a post from a gal about my age who had decided enough was enough and sought to change it. She had surgery, and until that point I considered weight-loss surgery a quick way out. But I wasn’t being honest with myself. Despite eating what I thought was right and despite being more active, I still was struggling. Nothing I had done was working, and I was tired of being tired. I was slowly dying. I had high blood pressure and diabetes. I had my gallbladder removed because I was sick, and I didn’t know how to get out of this rut of being obese.

Kimberly Thompson then and now. (Photos: Courtesy of Kimberly Thompson)
Kimberly Thompson then and now. (Photos: Courtesy of Kimberly Thompson)

The changes

I started to research surgery as a viable option. I had read a lot of stories about it and joined a few forums online. I went to a seminar too, and then I decided to have it done a year later. I talked with people who succeeded and people who failed. I took classes on how my diet would change and how I would need to remain active. I put a lot of passion into succeeding. I knew the risks of having gastric bypass, but I also knew that if something didn’t change, the risks of being obese outweighed the risks of having surgery. Due to having my gallbladder removed, the doctor reused the same entry points. I radically changed my diet, but that has to do with how the surgery works. I won’t fail again. I won’t be a bad example for people having this surgery. I will succeed.

My diet is very similar to keto. I eat a lot of meat, a lot of cheese, a lot of protein. I have to take vitamins for the rest of my life. I keep my carb count down to 50 grams a day and my sugar content down to roughly 5 grams a serving. My stomach is still very small, and I can’t eat as much as most people. At first, I only consumed 600 calories a day. Now I am up to 800-1,000.

The hardest thing with regard to food is how you go about eating. As Americans, we are taught to clear our plate. I cannot do that anymore. Fruits are a treat. It still feels strange to eat an orange. But I found that once I cut out sugar, food has different tastes.

Thompson has gone from being inactive to going on hikes and walking several miles each day at her job. (Photos: Courtesy of Kimberly Thompson)
Thompson has gone from being inactive to going on hikes and walking several miles each day at her job. (Photos: Courtesy of Kimberly Thompson)

The after

After the surgery and dietary changes, I felt great. I was finally doing something for me — putting my health and body first. I also have a great support system. My husband has been with me every step of the way. My kids and my family are all very supportive. This changed my life, and I feel wonderful.

I had been a stay-at-home mom, and then I got a job in retail because it forced me to move. So I went from staying home all of the time, to suddenly losing weight, being social and making friends. I found that when I was bigger, I had issues with looking people in the eye, but that no longer was a problem. I wasn’t embarrassed to go out or eat out — not anymore. I was able to get into clothes that I always wanted to.

For over 15 years, I had held on to a pair of pants that I never was able to fit into, and then all of a sudden they were too big. I was able to go hiking without getting winded, climb things and actually run without hurting. It felt great. It still feels great. One of my goals was to be able to go on a long hike without hurting, and I can do that now. I don’t feel that I am held back by my weight any longer. I feel as though I can do anything.

My life completely changed, and I am so glad that I did it. It’s a huge adjustment, though, because until you are out of the situation, you have no idea how it shaped you. I didn’t realize all of these social issues I had until I no longer had them.

Thompson eats mostly a keto diet. (Photos: Courtesy of Kimberly Thompson)
Thompson eats mostly a keto diet. (Photos: Courtesy of Kimberly Thompson)

The maintenance

Regarding food, it’s all about making healthy choices. I try to maintain a diet of lots of protein, and I stay away from carbs and refined sugars. I also work retail so I average about 10 miles a day, running around the store. On my days off, I try to get in a hike or some kind of movement.

I am happy with my body and my life. I am happy with how I feel and am happy to be off of the medications I was taking. My weight is no longer out of control. I can go do the things I couldn’t before without fear or embarrassment, and I am thrilled about that. I am so incredibly grateful and excited to live.

Thompson says her weight loss has changed her life. (Photos: Courtesy of Kimberly Thompson)
Thompson says her weight loss has changed her life. (Photos: Courtesy of Kimberly Thompson)

The struggles

To be honest, I don’t struggle that much anymore. I realize how canned that sounds, but I don’t. I have a happy life. I have good friends, good co-workers and an amazing family. The things I struggle with every day are the same struggles we all face: putting food on the table, dealing with mean people you meet, paying bills. But I no longer struggle with my weight or my relationship with food. And that is a blessing.

Advice

Just get up and do it. I know I spent years thinking that I was just a little bit bigger, instead of facing reality. If I had, maybe I would have gone on this journey sooner. I try to live my life without regrets, but I wish I had started taking my weight seriously sooner. I wish I had stopped lying to myself sooner. I wish I had done this a decade ago.

So my advice would be, get out there and do it. The only thing stopping you is you. Whether it’s simply changing your diet or your lifestyle, or researching surgery, get out there. You have to be your biggest supporter. You have to want to change. You have to be active in the process of doing it. Admitting to yourself that you need help is the first step. Beyond that, it is up to you, but go out and do it.

Need more inspiration? Read about our other wellness winners!

Wellness Wins is authored by Andie Mitchell, who underwent a transformative, 135-pound weight loss of her own.

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