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Washington D.C. Wedding Photographer | Ashleigh Bing |Inspiring Weight Loss Story

Knowing when it’s time

Honestly, I’m trying to think of a time that I did not have a weight issue. I guess when I was about 4 years old or so… Addiction and depression are real and it comes in many forms. I’m an emotional eater.. eat when I’m happy, sad, excited, bored, lonely, with friends, pretty much Any. Dang. Time… As a fanatic of the hit TLC show “My 600 lb. Life”, I noticed that a lot of people have a traumatic experience that kick-starts their weight gain. Thankfully, that is not the case for me. I just love food: the smell of a hot meal, the texture, taste; how it makes me feel when consuming it. Oh great, now I’m thinking about Pizza! But I am also thinking about one of my body goals of not just wearing a bikini, but looking good in it.


As a young child, I attended weekly aerobics classes and had a weight watchers membership all before middle school. Let’s take it back to the summer of 1997, right before 6th grade, I went to FAT CAMP. Well it wasn’t called Fat Camp per say, but that is exactly what it was. A camp designed to keep us active ALL DAMN DAY! In a typical day, we had tennis, dance, aerobics, swimming, track and kickball in addition to walking all over this huge campus to get from one activity to the next. Exercising accounted for about 6 hours of our day… I guess you could say that I participated in “The Biggest Loser” before it was actually a show on television. At some point, I suppose we had breakfast, lunch and dinner but the focus was clearly on keeping the body in motion.


At this point, I should have been good to go, right? The operative word here is “should”. While I probably lost about 15-20 lbs during the 6 weeks I attended, it really set me up for failure. Working out 6 hours a day is not sustainable for anyone who does not get paid to workout. I am sure their focus was teaching us “healthier habits” but all I remember is working out ALL DAY and being focused on getting “thin” at the end of the 6 weeks.


When I returned to school, my classmates could see a clear difference in my weight. Talk about excitement; those 6 weeks weren’t in vain. I liked the way I felt, and I loved how others saw me.. Yeah, that lasted for about 4 months before the weight started to slowly creep back on.


Fast forward to college, I found myself 212 lbs at the beginning of my freshman year. To me, this was my comfortable weight but it was in fact anything but comfortable. Yes, I then proceeded to add the freshman 15. Then I got a job, at a restaurant. You may be thinking, oh goodness, working around food—this was actually the beginning of a weight loss journey. I had less and less time to consume delicious food because I was in class or I was serving tables. Working in a fast paced restaurant, walking back and forth between taking orders and delivering food was a blessing in disguise. I was beginning to feel comfortable for real this time. Weight was dropping off of my body quickly. With that momentum, I signed up for a gym membership and lost 65 lbs between my Junior and Senior year. At this point, I was holding steady at 143 lbs. and felt great.


During my senior year, as quickly as it came off, it began to find its way back. My mother was diagnosed with a meningioma, a tumor on the lining of her skull. In an effort to go visit my sick mother, I was fired for needing to take days off from my restaurant job to go home. Ha, so laughable! Did they really think the threat of being fired would make me stay?! To those jerks: joke’s on you! I found that the activity level of serving tables was keeping the weight off. Now that I no longer had this job, the weight started coming back.


Once I started gaining weight again, it did not stop. It was now out of control. Nine years out of college and I found myself weighing 256 lbs while measuring at a mere 5’2”. How did I get here? How did I not regain control? The answer is simple. A lot of small mistakes. I knew when I should have ordered a salad instead of getting pizza. I knew when I should have gone to the gym instead of being lazy and not wanting to do anything else for the day. I knew when I should have stopped at the first helping instead of getting seconds. We all know what we need to do. It is just a matter of actually doing it. Just as a lot of small steps will put you in the right position, it will also put you in the wrong position. After countless failed attempts to lose weight, I was OVER IT! I needed to regain control of the scale but did not know how.


While out of town with 3 of my girlfriends, we were having a heart to heart. Cierra and I were severely overweight while the other two were not. They may have wanted to lose 5-10 lbs but who doesn’t, no matter how “in shape” one is? This was a pivotal moment in my life because I was tired of TALKING about it. I needed to take some action. No longer was I interested in being out of breath from walking up a flight of stairs, groaning while trying to tie my shoes, looking for armless chairs so my hips wouldn’t be squished, the list goes on and on. Things that most people do not have to worry about, unless their weight is an issue for them.


Cierra introduced me to the idea of weight loss surgery (WLS). I knew that it existed but based on what I had seen, everyone weighed over 500 lbs and that wasn’t my situation. After doing much research and Cierra sharing with me what her plan was, I decided to try the same thing. If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got. I wrote a list of all the non-scale victories (NSV) that I was looking forward to like wearing pants that don’t need elastic waistbands, seeing my collar bone, weighing less than my fiancé, wearing a strapless bra and it being comfortable, etc…


July 5, 2018 I gifted myself a vertical sleeve gastrectomy – VSG. Drastic and permanent was what I needed. Let me be the first to say that WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY DOES NOT STOP FOOD ADDICTION. .Since August, I have been dedicated in the gym working out 4-5 times a week between step class, zumba, spinning and working with a strength trainer.


The procedure was quick and I didn’t have any complications. Three days later, I was back at home and found myself questioning my decision. “Did I make the right choice?” seemed to play in the back of my mind over and over. All I wanted to do was drink water, is that too much to ask? Small sips and breaks in between seemed to be the new normal. Could I get used to this? It definitely took some getting used to. As time progressed, I was able to have a little more each day. Growing from a liquid diet, to pureed food. It was like being a baby all over again. I was training my body how to eat, and most importantly how to not overeat.

Instagram’s WLS community is so inspiring. It helped to look at the endless before and after photos of people that went the WLS route and knew it was only a matter of time before I was one of those success stories that would inspire others. This kept me going!


I’ve had people tell me, “you don’t have to tell folks you had weight loss surgery”, but I feel that I do.

Since starting this journey, I have had 3 people that are close to me look at this route as an option for themselves.

Someone close to me shared her journey and it saved my life so why would I be selfish and not share my experience. In the last 7 months, I have lost 90 lbs. The more you love your decisions, the less you care how others feel about them. My goal is to simply feel good about myself and be comfortable in my own skin. It is nice to look back on my list of NSVs and see how far I have come.


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