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'I worried about fitting in the plane seat but then I lost 7 stone with lifestyle change'

A grandmother who was inspired to rekindle her childhood love for horseriding has turned her life around by losing nearly seven stone.

Melanie Cameron, a 53-year-old florist from Lesmahagow in Lanarkshire, battled with obesity and fluctuating weight throughout her life, reaching a peak weight of 24 stone 11 pounds.

Born into a family that ran pubs, she was constantly surrounded by unhealthy food options which led to early weight gain and a lifelong battle with emotional eating and body image issues.

“I was the only child and from the age of seven, it was fizzy drinks on tap, crisps, chocolate, the lot,” she shared. “I was heavy at the age of seven, and even as a kid, I visited doctors who told me to go on diets. I was 13 stone at the age of 13, and the weight crept up every year after that.”

The mum-of-three revealed that she would start the day with good intentions, “typically two Weetabix with skimmed milk – I would only keep skimmed milk in the house”.

But after a lunch of usually bread rolls and ham, she would begin snacking on cakes and biscuits before eating a “man-sized” home-cooked dinner of spaghetti bolognese, chicken curry and rice or pork chops.

Melanie had some success with various diets, losing 10 stone with the Lighter Life programme to lead an active life with her grandchildren. However, over the years, her weight gradually increased back up to 20 stone.

“I spent my whole life wanting to be thin, to look normal and not to worry about sitting in the aeroplane seat and things like that,” she said.

Melanie’s turning point came after her 50th birthday when she rediscovered her childhood love of horseriding and faced fears she might miss out on seeing her grandchildren grow up.

“When I started horseriding again I found it very difficult because of my weight, and I couldn’t even run after my grandkids. I needed to lose a couple of stone,” said Melanie.

Realising she needed a more permanent and healthy solution to her weight struggles, Melanie decided to undergo weight loss surgery at Weight Loss Riga in Latvia after seeing a friend’s results.

“I knew somebody that went to Weight Loss Riga for bariatric surgery, a horsewoman, and she had a very successful result and looked great,” Melanie said. “She told me, ‘You’ll never look back on this’, and she was right. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”

Melanie said she “hadn’t even bothered” trying to get surgery through the NHS.

“I didn’t want to jump through hoops when I had been heavy all my life,” she said. “What is the point in trying to get anything on the NHS? People can’t even get a hip replacement – so how am I going to get anything bariatric done?”

Since undergoing surgery in August last year, Melanie has lost nearly seven stone and now weighs 13 stone five pounds, and has dropped to a dress size 14 from a 20.

“My recovery was really quick,” she shared. “I had the operation on Monday afternoon, I was home sitting in my garden on Thursday afternoon, and I was up seeing my horse by Friday afternoon.”

Since then, Melanie has kept losing weight and changed her life completely. “Now, I eat because I see food as fuel,” she explained.

For breakfast, she enjoys Weetabix with skimmed milk, lunch might be a small bowl of soup or an egg omelette, and dinner is a modest portion of something like chicken or a little bit of ravioli.

Melanie feels much better in her mind and body now, and her horseriding has got so much better. “My horseriding has improved unbelievably,” said Melanie. “I’m not half as frightened either. I can ride for 45 minutes and not be puffed – and I barely sweat anymore.”

She gives advice to others thinking about weight loss surgery: “Don’t overthink it, just do it.” Melanie added: “This isn’t a diet; this is a new life you get, and you’ve got to live it and enjoy it.”

Dr Maksims Mukans, a top bariatric surgeon at Weight Loss Riga, said: “After surgery patients are unable to eat as much as they did previously because their new smaller stomach feels fuller after a smaller amount of food.

“It also serves to reset the metabolism of patients, most of whom have struggled with dieting for many, many years. Resetting the metabolism is so important because without it most people will find themselves stuck in this cycle of losing weight and then regaining it over and over again.

“Our patients receive extensive support after their procedure, including nutritional guidance if required, and we empower them to make positive changes to their lifestyles. We also have a Facebook group where patients share their stories and offer each other support.”


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