All through 2017, I hope to bring you a guest post once a month from some of my amazing readers, sharing their weight loss journey and first up is the lovely Kareen.
Kareen has faced many battles; moving overseas away from family and friends, depression, cancer, various illnesses and nearly lost her life, when she developed septicaemia after complications from an operation. But in a remarkable turnaround and with the help of Slimming World she has regained control of her health and in doing so, has lost over 50lbs, In her own words, this is her story :-
Hello My name is Kareen and this is my story:
I moved over to the United States in 2006, with my Husband Josef and my 3 year old son Connor. I was excited for a new adventure, but leaving my family and friends was hard , I became homesick fast.
My husband was processed out of the Navy, which took longer than anticipated. We spent 6 weeks in a navy Lodge and with my husband gone for long periods at a time, I spent most of the time sat in a small room eating out of boredom and it soon became all I could think about doing. I was lonely and as much as my 3 year old lightened my life I became depressed and obsessed with eating. Within just a month I had gone up two dress sizes, but I convinced myself that it was just American sizing and I couldn't possibly have put on all that weight.
We traveled across the states to our new home in Wisconsin, eating fast food along the way. By the time we had reached our destination I had switched my jeans to stretchy exercise trousers and baggy t-shirts because nothing else fitted. My husband looked for work in the area as a previous job fell through and that put a lot of stress on our family and again i turned to food. It was around this time, I started to not feel healthy and very weak, I was in pain as I walked and the weight was going on so fast, that before I knew it, I had hit 240lbs from an original 135lbs when we first moved from the UK.
I was shocked and miserable trying different diets, starving myself, but nothing seemed to make a difference. At a Thanksgiving feast at my husbands family's house, I remembered taking the tiniest amount of food for my plate, I was embarrassed to eat at the size I was. I clearly remember a breaking point in my emotions, in my husbands families kitchen, I bent over to pick something from the floor that my son had dropped, a family member shouting woah!!! as I bent over, I felt so humiliated as everyone laughed.
My husband unfortunately couldn't find a job in the area, but was offered employment for Lockheed Martin in Manassas, VA. It meant that we would have to leave extended family and start a fresh in an area where we had no support. We made the move and just a few short weeks when my husband was on travel for work, I collapsed at home. I didn't know anyone in the area and my young son was in bed, so I called an ambulance and was taken to the local hospital. It was discovered that I had a large Tumor on my left ovary, that was hormone producing and making me very sick. I had the tumor, ovary and fallopian tube removed. I was told before I left the hospital, that I was now a type two diabetic and I had Polycysic ovary syndrome.
After the recovery I tried my best to get healthy, I would go on short walks and tried to live a healthier lifestyle. My size really affected my once outgoing personality and it was hard to meet new people and make friends. I was embarrassed of my size and mostly would stay in our apartment hiding.
I did manage to drop 40lbs before discovering that I was pregnant with our second child. I was put on bed rest for the pregnancy due to a low lying placenta. It was hard and because of the lack of exercise i gained 20lbs of the 40lbs I had lost.
After my beautiful son was born, I found my old Slimming World books remembering how successful I was dropping the pregnancy weight from my first child and gave the Plan a go. I did drop weight and started to feel somewhat myself again , I joined a local gym and became in love with exercise. But as luck would have it just 6 months on I became very sick again. Now anyone with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome will know the snail pace of trying to loose weight and the frustration, so when I was gaining so fast again, it was very heartbreaking for me after working so hard.
After some tests it was discovered that i had developed a problem with my Thyroid. I had a toxic nodule that was making my hormones all over the place, making me gain weight feeling incredibly sick and depressed. I had a Biopsy taken which discovered some cancer cells. Then in November 2015, I had a Thyroidectomy (removal of thyroid). I Immediately felt the difference in my health! I started the thyroid replacement hormone and once that was adjusted to the dosage I needed, I went back on Slimming World.
For a final blow just 4 months later, I started to have bleeding problems and increased uterine pain. I had been having problems on and off since the removal of my left ovarian Tumor and was given an Uterine Ablation which sadly failed to work. After a few abnormal tests showing cancer cells in my uterus it was decided that it would be the best option for me to go ahead and have a Hysterectomy. The Summer of 2016 I went in for a Hysterectomy at the age of 33.
The surgeon decided since I was so young to go ahead and leave the right Ovary so I could avoid early menopause. After leaving the hospital I was in so much pain and kept returning to the ER only to be told it was post operative pain. After being sent home for the 4th time being told they didn't know what was wrong with me, I collapsed at home in so much pain, I was in a out of consciousness. I was rushed by Ambulance for an emergency oopherectomy (ovary removal) they had found my right Ovary was torsioned and had an hemorrhagic ovarian cyst that was bleeding into my abdomen.
As if this wasn't enough to go through, just a couple weeks after that surgery, my health was not getting any better and I became septic and almost died. I was found about 3 miles away from my home late at night at the side of the road with a 104 fever in and out of consciousness. Apparently, I had just walked out of my house as my husband was bathing our youngest and I was walking to England!!!!! It took 90mins for my Husband and neighbors to find me. I can not remember any of this.
Thank god I was found and I woke in the ICU on strong antibiotics and my mind slowly came back. I was told that due to the high fever and infection I had suffered a stroke , the left side of my body wasn't working as it should. I returned home to continue my recovery and vowed to myself that I would loose weight!!! Get healthy for my Husband , boys and myself!
I started Slimming World at 215lbs with some new books that my mum had sent me from the UK. I did the plan on my own until I hit 183.6lbs then I joined online. I am now at 157lbs with the goal of 135lbs and I know I will get there.
I still have my issues from the stroke but i run on my good days. I no longer feel uncomfortable in my own skin and I have made it through so much. Slimming World has changed my life and my story has already inspired others join too.
For the first time, a few weeks ago, I went clothes shopping grabbing smalls, mediums, size 6 and size 8 trousers and it felt incredible to not have that anxiety trying on clothing and to not feel like I was being looked at and judged.
I still have a journey ahead of me to reach my goal before I take on the Slimming World Maintaining life and I will always be dedicated to the plan that has made me feel so healthy and in control. I have an amazing support system around me to keep me focused and they always remind me how far I have come and what I have achieved with all that life has thrown my way. All I can say is you can get past anything with inner strength, perseverance and smile on your face. Everyone has bad days and we just have to pick ourselves up and forgive ourselves. You are stronger than you know!
You can keep up to date with Kareen's amazing journey through her Instagram account: @kareenbinter
Interested in joining Slimming World, so you can start your own weight loss journey?
Click here if you live in the USA - Slimming World USA
Click here if you live outside the USA - Slimming World
and if you want to know more about Slimming World - you can check out my review: Slimming World Review
Would you like to be featured in one of these posts just like Kareen? Then send me a brief outline of your story through my Contact Form, to be added for random selection each month.