Meet Dionne, a 39 lawyer from London. Dionne had struggled with her weight for many years but particularly since pregnancy. With her big day looming, she was now determined to lose weight and get into the dress of her dreams!
Weight lost: 4st 1lbs
Why I chose to have a gastric balloon
For as long as I can remember I had always been overweight, but when I think about it my journey stems from the age of 5. I was a child model being in plenty of magazines, photoshoots and adverts. The world was my oyster and even at such a young age I could have pretty much anything I wanted EXCEPT food. To continue modelling, the one thing that was monitored was the amount that I ate, nothing very strict, but I definitely couldn’t eat whatever I wanted. This continued until I was 10 when, as much as I was enjoying a successful career, I was starting to miss a bit too much school and as this was my first priority, the modelling ended.
Hallelujah, I could eat what ever I wanted, and that I did, and did, and did! Before I knew it I had gone from a sleek child size to an adult size 14 and just 11 years old. I started secondary school and began to hang out with friends attending chip shops every lunch time and sometimes again after school. Before I knew it at the tender age of 16 I had gone up to a size 22. I felt depressed, nothing fit and I was always known as the nice face but BIG friend. I started to take desperate measures to starve myself and when that was too hard because I was hungry I began to binge eat and make myself sick. Silly I know, but at the time it all seemed to be the perfect answer. Temporarily it worked and I went down to a size 8-10 but this was an unnatural quick fix that could never last. I knew if I wanted to have any kind of health or life I couldn’t continue, so decided to stop and try and do things the right way.
Slowly but surely the weight crept back on to a size 16-18 and there I remained until the age of 32 when I had my first son. Most people’s first thought would be the joy of creating a life, but my initial thought was how much weight was I going to gain and how was I going to get rid of it afterwards. Naturally I did gain weight and during my pregnancy developed gestational diabetes. This was partly hereditary but also quite a lot to do with my weight. I managed to give birth to a healthy baby boy but was under a lot of monitoring due to my health. I made a promise to myself that after giving birth, I was going to become healthy if not for myself then most definitely for my son. I stuck to my promise, fluctuating between a size 14-16 but over the years started to see a slight gain to bring me back to a size 18-20. 6 years later, aged 39, I found myself pregnant with my second son and already a size 20 – what had changed from all those years ago? My mindset! This time I didn’t care if I gained weight as long as I had a healthy child, but vowed to be mindful and sensible of what I ate. I once again got gestational diabetes but this time it progressed to type 2 diabetes which made me determined that once my second child was born that I would get back on track once and for all. After giving birth I was 17.5st and the heaviest I had ever been. My partner had spoken about us getting married but I couldn’t help having negative thoughts. Me, getting married in a wedding dress at this size – No Way!
He eventually did propose and assured me that he loved me at any size but I thought about my 2 boys, my health and just the overall feeling of how I felt. It was time to take some serious action. I looked into a gastric band but didn’t want to go down the surgery route. So I investigated other options and saw a programme with a man who had lost a remarkable amount of weight with a gastric balloon. You only had to keep in for 6 months and it was non invasive, well there was no more to be said! I started to do my research, watching youtube videos of patients, joining groups to ask others about their experience and noting the pros and cons.
I eventually made up my mind that although it wouldn’t be a walk in the park, I wanted to do it. I contacted the Gastric Balloon Group who were really friendly and helpful in answering any questions. They were very honest in what to expect but I still wanted to go ahead.
The day of my procedure
On March 25th, my balloon was fitted and I was extremely nervous. I really didn’t know how I would feel afterwards. I came round and the staff were right there to comfort me and make sure I was in as little discomfort as possible. I felt ok, didn’t really feel much. Was this right? I had the sick bowl ready for the journey home but still nothing.
The first couple of weeks
I was advised that for the first 4 weeks I would need to be on a liquid only diet and for the first 7 days I stuck to it religiously. By the 8th day I still hadn’t been sick, admittedly had a few cramps but that was about it. I decided against my better judgement that surely I would be ok to eat something small – this was a bad idea because the vomiting I had been waiting for soon came along with the foul smelling burps and flatulence (these were some of the negatives I was warned about).
I weighed myself after the first 7 days and had lost 6.7lbs, I was ecstatic! Burping or not if I could continue like this I would be in my wedding dress in no time. I continued but this time sticking to the advice of liquids only. If I’m honest, there were a few occasions I took a bite of something solid but nothing more and at the end of the four weeks I had lost a total of 11lbs. I couldn’t wait to start eating but to my surprise when I did my stomach had internally shrunk so much I could only eat small amounts before feeling full. If I overate I was soon sick showing me I couldn’t eat the way I used to.
Four months on
It seems really strange because when I started my gastric balloon journey, it was for one reason and one reason only… to fit into my wedding dress. It wasn’t enough that I had previously been diagnosed with gestational diabetes TWICE, that type 2 diabetes was rapidly approaching or that I had emotional melt downs every time I couldn’t fit into something or my 7 year old son asked me when I was having the baby. I’m not pregnant!
Well the time finally arrived when I had to ask myself “Have you really done the right thing, is this really going to work?” On April 4th I walked into my chosen bridal shop to be faced with no idea of shape, style or size of the wedding dress I required. The shop assistant was helpful but probably thought I was a little delusional when I finally picked a dress which was 2 sizes too small. She smiled and said “it’s not impossible” but her exact words were “weight loss, weight loss, weight loss”. I also smiled because I knew if there was one thing I was ever going to stick to, it was this.
My sister was with me and she confirmed how nice the dress was from the front but there was just a slight problem – the 40cm gap in the back. I made the decision, against my better judgement, that I was having it no matter how tight it was. When we left the shop my sister had to ask “are you sure about this” trying not to laugh, but I said to myself that I’d be the one laughing when I proved them all wrong. From that day I attended fittings by myself.
6 weeks later I had my first fitting. I knew I had literally worked my butt off going to the gym, trying to refrain from eating rubbish and just generally thinking about the bigger picture. By this time I had lost 1st 10lbs and I walked into the bridal store and the manager’s jaw dropped, she couldn’t believe how much weight I’d lost. Whilst she was putting me in my dress she even confessed that she’d been very sceptical about me fitting into the dress when I chose it. I laughed and thought “I’m not even nearly done yet, you wait until my next fitting!”
My dress still couldn’t close but the gap had significantly reduced and I no longer had all the rolls on show. This definitely gave me the the boost I needed. My next fitting was in 5 weeks so I had no time to waste. I decided to step the gym up from 2 days to 3.
July 14th: My final fitting and it was all or nothing. I was leaving for the Caribbean on the Monday. My dress was ready but was I? Ohhhh yes, I glided into it without so much as a hitch. I nearly cried! The manager actually clapped as she knew it hadn’t been an easy road for me.
My next problem was staying in an All Inclusive resort surrounded by alcohol and every type of food you can imagine for 10 days prior to the wedding. What was I thinking! I arrived and instantly was greeted with a cocktail. This was going to be hard! I decided by day 3 that I wasn’t going to deprive myself. After all, it was my pre wedding holiday but I would have to exercise like there was no tomorrow. I did go to the gym once but with 2 children (one still being breast fed) it wasn’t so easy to get away, so every morning at 6am I got up, popped You Tube on my phone and logged into my pre-loaded exercise programmes. 45mins every day in my little make shift space. One morning my 7 year old woke up and couldn’t stop laughing, “Mum what on earth are you doing” he said but I kept on going.
The BIG DAY!
It was finally here and due to sharing a room with my then husband to be I purposefully didn’t even look at my dress, much less try it on. What if I had undone my hard work or it no longer fit, I had been slightly going for it with the portion sizes! My bridesmaids had arrived, my photographer and make-up artist had arrived and I was sitting staring at the dress now hung up and looking right back at me. I asked everyone to leave except my sister as I couldn’t face that final embarrassment of the dress not doing up.
The phone started ringing non stop. The wedding co-ordinator was asking what was taking so long, they were ready for me to come downstairs. Heart palpitations kicking in, I said “It’s now or never, let’s do this!” This time I stepped into the dress to avoid my makeup. It went up over my hips and over my stomach. Would the bust be a problem? Not this time! I was in with room to spare I might add. I literally danced a jig I was so happy.
I had a 10min walk to the other side of the resort with what felt like a million eyes on me, people clapping, smiling and congratulating me. This time I was the one beaming from ear to ear with my head held high. I had an entourage of 10 bridesmaids walking ahead of me, followed by my son looking extremely debonair. I could here echoes of “You look beautiful”. This was my day and I made it!
I approached the garden where we were to be married and “If only you knew” started to play. I confidently walked down the aisle to meet my tear filled husband. We did it.
How have I been since being back? Did it all go to pot or did I keep on going? I promise to report in next month, but until then keep on going.