A young woman who struggled with emotional eating has gone from a size 22 to a size six after dropping more than half her body weight – leaving her looking unrecognisable.
Jessica Dromgool, from Auckland, New Zealand, led a “relatively active lifestyle” with a “balanced” diet – but she never got the signal to stop eating because she was always hungry for emotional fulfilment.
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At her heaviest, the 27-year-old tipped the scales at 110kg.
“I was a lifelong emotional eater and I also suffered from never feeling full,” Jessica tells 7Life.
But determined to get on top of her weight once and for all, she shed an incredible 55kg after she had no choice but to turn to gastric sleeve surgery to take back control of her life.
“When you’re overweight for 90 per cent of your lifetime, most days can be consumed with a notation surrounding your weight, what you eat and what you should be doing better, in addition to how people may perceive you based on your weight,” she says.
“Each year I would try to love myself more and tell myself that this would be the year I’d feel freedom – freedom from the thoughts that consumed me surrounding my weight.
“Freedom from being associated with a particular body shape or size, and I would be able to just be.”
‘I am the happiest and healthiest I have ever been. I live an extremely full life’ – Jessica Dromgool
But after much deliberation and two years of research, she knew the only way she could overcome her bad eating habits to get healthy was to undergo weight loss surgery.
“I’m extremely proud of what I have accomplished, my goal was to take control of my life holistically,” she explains.
“I now live a life that is limitless. I am the happiest and healthiest I have ever been. I live an extremely full life.”
Long before her dramatic body transformation, Jessica “tried all types” of gyms to keep on top of her weight.
“However long term despite being active I wasn’t able to lose weight due to being in a calorie excess,” she says.
She noticed her weight escalated when she broke her foot in January 2020.
“I struggled to get back in to any form of exercise and then we went into lockdown,” she recalls.
“Throughout lockdown I tried home workouts and walking the block around my house, but in doing so I developed extremely painful shin splints.”
Eventually, she developed lipedema – a condition that causes excess fat to accumulate in the lower part of the body.
“It caused swelling in my lower limbs. This was also painful and at points made me want to give up,” she says.
Her diet consisted of nutritious foods – but the “emotional eater” was consuming more calories than her body burns off.
Being overweight since early childhood, she tried every “trick and tip in the book” but nothing seemed to work.
“Unfortunately as a result of lifelong learned patterns and behaviours I didn’t have the understanding on how to help myself further,” she says.
“Despite fueling my body with nutrient rich foods, when your consumption is in a calorie excess, weight is gained.”
‘I feel full for the first time in my adult memory’ – Jessica Dromgool
In November 2020, she made the life-changing decision to undergo weight loss surgery.
“The surgery provides a restriction on the volume so it has enabled me to feel full for the first time in my adult memory. It has given me control,” she says.
“It has been 14 months since I had surgery, and in that time I have lost half of my body weight. So in essence I have lost what I now weigh.”
Jessica says she has since learned about healthy eating habits to become more mindful with food.
“The feeling of feeling full and being aware of when you are eating if not hungry is such a powerful tool and has contributed to my success,” she says.
Jessica says her food choices “vary daily” because she doesn’t restrict herself to a “diet”.
“I follow a balanced diet of all food groups and eating intuitively,” she says.
Breakfast: Protein Shake and Coffee
Lunch: Chicken salad wrap with avocado, cheese, tomato and lettuce
Dinner: Steak and vegetable warm salad
Snack: Boiled eggs, cheese and crackers or tuna on corn thins
“With each meal, I focus my meals around protein first,” she says.
“Generally I eat three meals a day without snacking and this is what works well for me. It’s about finding what works for you to enable good patterns and behaviours with food.”
Her exercise routine includes daily walks, F45 and yoga.
“It’s about finding what you enjoy and going from there, and also going at your own pace. It’s you versus you,” she says.
Looking at old pictures of herself, Jessica – who documents her astonishing body transformation on Instagram – says she now feels “proud and in constant awe”.
“Proud because I know of the struggles and mountains I had to climb and what I have been through to get here and be in a position to reflect on myself,” she says.
“Whenever I see a comparison photo of myself, it’s not a comparison of my worth, beauty or who I was but it’s a proud reflection of the growth and self-discovery journey I enabled myself to go on.
“I was always beautiful and I still am today, so when I see myself I am still well aware of all that and all that I am now.”
‘I am living, walking, breathing proof that once you enable yourself to be the best version of yourself, nothing can stop you’ – Jessica Dromgool
For those looking to slim down, Jessica – who dropped eight dress sizes – says: “The only secret to weight loss is entering and maintaining a calorie deficit, it sounds too good to be true but trust me it’s the truth.
“There’s also no shame in choosing a method that works for you to help you on this journey. My method of choice was weight loss surgery and it is the best choice I have ever made for myself.
“Choosing to put yourself first, love yourself and find out who you can be with nothing stopping you is the most empowering experience. I am living, walking, breathing proof that once you enable yourself to be the best version of yourself, nothing can stop you.”