Earlier this month we managed to get hold of our Model Search winner, Hali, for a quick chat to find out some more about her and the ups and downs of her weight loss journey. 34-year-old Hali from Bristol has been on a fantastic journey after losing an amazing 11 stone after a gastric sleeve. Riddled with low self-esteem and depression due to her weight, at the age of 31 Hali decided that enough was enough, it’s either now or never. We wanted to find out some more about the reason behind her decision to go ahead with surgery and how it has changed her life.
How long did it take you to finally decide to go ahead with surgery?
It actually took me about 5 years of struggling with my weight to come to a final decision, but once I’d contacted Healthier Weight I think within a month or two I’d booked in. So yes, it took me a long time to make the decision but once I’d made up my mind that was it. It’s been the best thing. I think I’ve had about 3 of my friends have surgery since I had mine done because they saw such amazing results.
Have you told everyone about your surgery?
At the beginning only my parents and my siblings knew. I chose not to tell my children because they were a bit too young but they do know now. For about, not even 3 months, before I just told everyone. I knew I was going to lose so much weight and people would start asking how I did it and I didn’t want to say ‘just diet and exercise’. They’d known I’d been overweight my entire adult life so I decided it was better to be honest from the beginning.
Was everyone supportive of your decision to have surgery?
Yes, my family and friends were very supportive. I unfortunately feel like there is a bit of taboo about surgery and lots of people don’t understand it. I really wanted to change people’s opinions about surgery. The amount of people who have said to me ‘Wow, I didn’t even realise that surgery would be like that’. They were shocked!
You still need to try and still need to change your lifestyle. I said to people ‘Yes I have had surgery and it’s a tool to help me lose weight. I can’t just sit there and eat chocolate all day and stay slim. I still have to do the work’.
What do you think was the main thing that made you decide to go ahead with surgery?
I’d had many embarrassing incidents like breaking chairs but the big wake up call for me was I went to the doctors for a check-up. I think I had to have my cholesterol checked and I remember the doctor telling me that my cholesterol is so high, it’s the same as like a 70 year old woman and at the time I was only 30. I remember walking out and it hit me. I thought ‘I am literally one chocolate bar away from a heart attack!’ It was definitely the health factor that scared me. For many years I’d dieted, I’d tried everything but it was always that I’d done it for cosmetic reasons because I wanted to be a size 12 or something but it was never about my health. I think that day at the doctors was a wake up call for me, that it’s time to do something for my health.
What advice would you give to anyone considering weight loss surgery?
The one thing I always say to people who tell me their considering surgery is ‘If you’re not ready to change your lifestyle as well, then I’d reconsider.’ People really need to understand that they do need to change their habits. I also definitely advise that you go through a good surgery provider rather than just booking in and having it done anywhere. It’s important that you go with a provider that cares just as much about support and aftercare as the initial surgery. Healthier Weight, for me was amazing because I had that support and guidance.
Do you think that having support is essential for a weight loss surgery?
I think it just puts your mind at rest. It’s such a big thing having surgery and knowing that you could just pick up the phone and talk to a nurse if you have any questions is a great peace of mind. I know that people who have had it done, say on the NHS, even though they can go and see their doctor or something, they’re not getting specialist support all the time and I do think that makes it so much easier.
Have you picked up any new hobbies or interest since your weight loss?
Yes, I started doing belly dance classes which is really fun! The other thing I’ve taken up is yoga which has been really amazing, it’s just been so good for my mind and body. I would never have dreamed of walking into a yoga class before, one for confidence reasons and another because I was so big I wouldn’t have been able to do it. Those are the two main activities but I also do a lot of walking and gym activities.
We noticed on your Instagram that you have your own recipe book out! Could you tell us a bit more?
While I was losing the weight I also studied a course on emotional eating because I really needed to understand that in myself. It then meant I was qualified so I went on to do a nutritional course. I did these things and then I started offering recipes and things to friends and posting them to my social media. It was also to help other people considering weight loss surgery by showing them examples of what someone would eat after their procedure as they usually don’t know. After sharing my recipe’s with family, friends and the internet I got lots of people telling me I should write a book and I thought ‘Lets just give this a go!’. The book is called Truly Nourished and it’s available on Amazon. It’s basically like a cleanse for 2 weeks, having recipes that are great for detoxing and then you just move onto what I call the plan for life. This is what I was offering clients when I was doing nutritional programmes with them and so I just decided to package it all together in a book.
Well, you sure have been on an inspirational journey. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Hali!