This story is about Karen Sharpe, a woman from Leicester, UK, who suffered horrible weight problems during most of her life. Her problems started when she was a kid that got bullied for being overweight - she could only deal with this stress by eating, even more, food after school, which is how she got to her final weight of 350 pounds. Her grandmother Betty saved her life by giving her a challenge - she said she would pay a thousand pounds to her granddaughter if she lost 160 pounds.
Before her extreme weight loss, Karen Sharpe, from Leicester, UK, weighed over 350 pounds. She has such an extreme weight problem, that she even considered surgery, but finally decided to lose the weight without any medical help at all.
Karen her amazing weight loss to a bet she made with her grandmother, Betty. Her grandmother convinced her that instead of going for an NHS gastric band surgery, that she is going to give her 1,000 pounds if she loses the weight on her own.
Since this story is from the UK, the amounts wagered were slightly different from the US and continental Europe. Karen's grandmother wanted her to lose five stones. In US terms, five stones equal about 160 pounds, which in turn is around 72.5 kilograms.
Karen didn't have such huge weight problems before giving birth to her first child, Natasha. Karen is now the mother of four children, but it was her first birth that changed her life. She probably became sedentary and increased her food intake after the birth.
Here is a photo of Karen's grandmother Better, together with her husband Jack, who died at the age of 83. He never saw the success Karen had after his wife made her bet, but if he could know, he would be very proud of both of them.
Karen's entire weight loss journey took a long period of time - 4 years to be exact. In that time frame, she lost over 170 pounds, which translates to 10 different dress sizes. Just imagine wearing clothes that are 10 sizes smaller than your current ones - that's amazing.
Karen is forever thankful to her grandmother for convincer her not to take the easier route. She said "I owe my grandmother so much. I'm so relieved that I chose to get it done the hard way rather than take the tempting surgery option."
Although some people think that having the gastric bypass surgery is easier, the long-term effects are much worse. Karen said "Friends I know who have had surgery have had a difficult time adjusting to life after the operation. But I'm stronger, fitter and more like myself than ever before."
Every surgery, even trivial ones carry some sort of risk - even the removal of tonsils. Gastric band and bypass surgeries are bad because they don't teach patients the proper way to control their weight. They are just a band-aid solution to a problem that hasn't been fixed.
Karen Sharpe has only positive things to say about her grandmother, who literally saved her life, and gave her a valuable lesson. Karen said, "'If it wasn't for nan, I don't know what sort of shape I'd be in today."
Today, Karen works as a Weight Watchers group assistant, where she helps other overweight and obese people get their lives and bodies in shape. She serves as an inspiration for everyone that comes to seek help and guidance from Weight Watchers.
The earliest time Karen had problems with her weight, was during her school years. She said that she was overweight (but not yet obese), and so the other kids bullied her. The only way she knew to cope with this stress was to eat even more food.
Apart from improving her diet (eating better food and fewer calories), Karen also incorporated a lot of cardio and strength based exercise into her routine. Exercising during weight loss is important, in order to better tone your body's muscles and skin.
Ultimately, because Karen has vastly improved her health, she is now going to be able to be more present and energetic towards the needs of her four children (Natasha, eight, Emily, 11, Nathan, 13, and Megan 14) and 35-year old husband, David Sharpe.
While Karen gained the most weight after giving birth to her first child, the cycle didn't stop there. She gained even more weight once she gave birth to the other three children, which is how she got to her final weight of 350 pounds.