Real Life

REAL LIFE: Selena was about to undergo a weight-loss surgery. A week out, she decided to do it herself. Here's how she did it

''I had to change, I just had to find the strength.''

By Laura Masia

Selena Schimko, 43, Melbounre, Vic, shares her real life story;

I clenched my eyes shut as a throbbing pain radiated through my skull.
"Can I get you anything?" my husband, Michael, asked me, realising I had a migraine again.
"No thanks," I trembled.
Lately, I felt like I couldn't catch a break.
Two years earlier, I'd suffered a slipped disc in my back. Every time I moved, a sharp pain shot through me.
For eight months, I went to physiotherapy religiously, desperately trying to fix it.
"Why don't you try some Pilates?" my physio suggested.
While I did my best to follow his instructions, at 120kg, just getting up from tying my shoelace felt like a huge feat, let alone attending a gym class.
After months of agony, my doc referred me for routine surgery to put the disc back in place.
The operation went smoothly and for the next two months, I focused on recovery and started gentle yoga to help build strength in my back.
But halfway through, my mum fell ill. She lived interstate, so every week for three months, I'd fly to see her.
Whenever I boarded the plane, I'd be filled with dread.
Squeezing into the seats was hard and with my back, it made for an uncomfortable journey.
Then, the awful migraines started.
They became more frequent and I was soon getting one every three or four days.
The pain was so unbearable I'd have to take days off work.
"Are you under a lot of stress?" a doctor asked me.
I nodded.
Stress had permeated through every aspect of my life, from work, to helping Mum and now it was affecting my health. I knew I had to make a change if I was going to live a full, happy life.
Desperate to turn things around, I booked in for weight-loss surgery. A month before the big day, the specialist put me on the pre-op shake diet. It was hard, but I felt good knowing I was doing the right thing.
Within two weeks, I'd lost nine kilos. Looking in the mirror, I felt good about myself for the first time in years.
As the surgery date crept up, I realised I was making a huge mistake.
"If I can lose this much weight in three weeks, why am I having this surgery?" I said to Michael.
"I just want you to be happy," Michael replied, "And I think you're strong enough to do it on your own."
With his support spurring me on, I cancelled the op.
I struggled mentally and physically after my back operation. (Image: Supplied)
Back in my 20s, I remembered I'd lost a bit of weight with WW, formerly Weight Watchers, programs.
The workshops with other people like me were inspiring and kept me accountable.
I jumped online and saw they had a centre right next to my work.
This is perfect! I thought, and signed up right away.
Scrolling through the food list made me nervous. One of my regular dinners of pasta bake with cheese and a glass of wine was taking up almost half of my daily points.
Although I knew it'd be hard, I loved to cook and saw it as a challenge.
Me on my 40th birthday. I weighed 120kg and was suffering from terrible migraines. (Image: Supplied)
I quickly started making different meals, like baked miso glazed salmon with vegies and roast potatoes.
"This is amazing!" said Michael, ravenously digging into his next bite.
A month after starting the program, my weight was fluctuating so I took it up a notch and saw a personal trainer, Dwayne. I instantly loved his energy and approach to health.
"Why don't you give it 100 per cent for four weeks and let's see how you do?" he said kindly, "I'll be with
you every step."
I agreed, and along with eating well, I started training with him once a week.
By the end of the month, I'd dropped 5kg and my jeans fit better than they had in years.
A year later, I'd lost 25kg and my old pants were far too big for me.(Image: Supplied)
I finally felt strong and confident.
After that, I regularly did gym classes, and met with Dwayne twice a week.
The weight started falling off and I noticed that little things I'd once found challenging were now a breeze.
One day, I was at work when I had to rush to a meeting.
I quickly climbed three flights of stairs, making it in the nick of time.
When I sat down, I realised I wasn't even out of breath.
Months ago, I would've been sweating and puffing after the first flight.
I'm still a work in progress but I'm so proud of how far I've come.(Image: Supplied)
These days, I weigh a healthy 87kg and feel more vibrant than I have in years. I'm still 10kg away from my goal, but I'll get there.
Exercise has helped me relieve the stress on my body and manage my mental health. I rarely get migraines anymore.
I'm thankful that I didn't do the weight-loss surgery because this journey has helped me find my strength.
I'm still a work-in-progress but I know I'm the best version of myself.

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