25 Faces: Yolanda Marshall

25 Faces, Body Image

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25 Faces celebrates the amazing women in my life who continue to inspire me day in and day out. I hope this story brings out your best as well. Join in the conversation below, or on Twitter and Facebook. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for another inspiring narrative!

A beautiful young mother of 2 adorable kids, Yolanda Marshall, an on-the-go working mom stands at 4’11½” and a fraction of her former weight. Looking at this beautiful and athletic woman, you would never know that she once struggled with her weight. But this petite powerhouse once weighed 215 lbs, and the extra pounds took a toll on her both physically and mentally. After exhausting all other attempts to drop the weight, she consulted with surgeons and ultimately underwent bariatric surgery. She was kind enough to sit down with me and open up about her experiences with weight loss, the decision to have surgery, and what life is like for her now.

25 Faces - Yolanda Marshall

Kate: Did you always struggle with your weight, or was it something that crept up on you in adulthood?
Yolanda: I was always a little overweight growing up. During high school and my first year of college I began to see my weight increase and did very little physical activity (if any). I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and that was definitely a contributor to the additional pounds I put on after having my son. I found myself at 215 lbs 20 months after giving birth, which was my heaviest weight ever.

K: Many people try and fail at traditional weight-loss methods. Did you ever feel like you were doomed to be overweight forever?
Y: I DEFINITELY felt that way. I was the QUEEN of yoyo and fad diets. I often felt desperate and was willing to do (almost) anything to lose weight. The constant failing would lead to cycles of binge eating and depression.

K: What ultimately led you to make the decision to have bariatric surgery?
Y: Ultimately, my son! I couldn’t keep up with the little guy. He was growing so fast and quickly approaching the “terrible twos” stage. I remember this SO clearly… I was walking to my car with him, and had to walk down 4 stairs. My knee almost gave out and I was in a lot of PAIN. I thought to myself, “How am I going to be able to run after him, play with him, teach him good habits and just enjoy life like this?!” – I made my decision that day. I began researching like crazy and approached my doctor. I wasn’t sure what her response would be but it doesn’t hurt to try right? Much to my surprise, she supported me fully and wrote my letter of recommendation. It was all history from there!

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K: How has the surgery changed your life?
Y: Where do I begin? How hasn’t it? I am no longer the girl with the “pretty face”. I am healthy. I have a normal BMI. I can OUTRUN my son. I am teaching him great habits. I smile SO much more. In a nutshell, I am HAPPY with myself and my appearance. I am so much more outgoing because I’m not embarrassed by my weight and hiding in a corner. I became a certified Zumba instructor, ran a morning Boot camp, and am now signed up for my first CrossFit Competition in June. Fortunately, my journey has allowed me to impact the lives of others. Flagler Bariatric Center presented me with the opportunity to do a commercial and share my success story on their website. Last October, I was a guest at the Southern Women’s Conference and on the cover of their in house magazine. The response from the women was overwhelming and so encouraging. THOSE are the moments I live for… to inspire others!

K: What’s your advice to those struggling with their own weight loss or health journey?
Y: My advice would be to take it one day at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Bariatric surgery was a tool and not a CURE. My journey took time, patience, dedication, and required a complete lifestyle change. Take baby steps… I really think 10 lbs at a time with a reward for each milestone is a great way to stay motivated. Remember, its 80% nutrition and 20% exercise – food is your fuel so put the right things in to keep it moving – you wouldn’t put kool-aid in your gas tank and expect your car to run right? *smile* When it comes to exercise, find something you LOVE to do so it doesn’t feel like working out at all. For me, it started with kickboxing, and then Zumba was it for a few years. These days I am now loving CrossFit – do what works for YOU! NEVER GIVE UP and Be your own kind of BEAUTIFUL!