In Mallory Buettner’s first 29 years on Earth, she never wore a bikini – that is until June.
The Quinte West, Ont. native says she started to embrace the itsy bitsy bathing suit after losing a whopping 210 lbs. Now she wants to inspire others by talking about her amazing transformation. As she notes, it wasn’t an easy journey to get to where she is today.
It all started two years ago when Buettner’s weight reached almost 400 lbs. She had struggled to control her weight since she was a child, and had tried what seemed like an endless list of diet and exercise regimes to cope.
That’s when her weight began to creep back up. Even a nutritionist, who helped her learn about healthful eating, couldn’t help her drop weight.
Frustrated, she turned to her doctor and a dietitian, who both suggested she get gastric bypass surgery.
“I had an emotional breakdown when he suggested it,” she says. “I swore I wasn’t going to do it because I wasn’t that girl and that I could lose weight on my own. I was pretty upset.”
It was the last thing Buettner wanted to do, but after talking it over with her sister, she decided to go ahead with the surgery.
“I guess it’s how society perceives gastric bypass surgery, but I really thought it was the lazy way – the easy way out,” she says. “I thought it was a way of saying that I had no other choice because I can’t control what I eat, but my doctor said that I was controlling what I was eating and making an effort to diet and exercise. They said ‘But it’s not enough. You need help.’”
After a consultation in November 2013, she booked her surgery for May 2014. About two weeks before the actual surgery, Buettner was told she had to stick to a strict liquid diet; this would help reduce the amount of fat around her major organs (like the liver and spleen).
The day of Buettner’s surgery was one she can’t forget. While she was overwhelmed with emotion, she was mostly excited.
“I was sitting in the waiting room with my mom and – my poor mother – you could tell she was nervous,” she says. “But I was sitting on my feet as I sat on the chair like a kid. I was so happy.”
Thankfully, her surgery was a success, and her waistline began to shrink.
Seeing the pounds “melt off” as fast as they did was a surreal experience for Buettner.
“It didn’t seem real,” she says. “At the time it was just crazy and such a wild ride.”
At one point she was losing about 20 lbs. per month.
The process wasn’t without complications, however. Following the surgery, Buettner developed a hematoma (a blood clot within the tissue) that had to be removed through emergency surgery. (According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, 5 per cent of bariatric surgery patients experience complications because of the procedure.)
She and her fiancé also split because he didn’t agree with the way she went about losing weight.
“He didn’t understand why I wouldn’t diet and exercise after watching me diet and exercise and struggle for all those years,” Buettner recalls. “I didn’t understand why he wasn’t on team Mallory.”
She went on to say: “I think he was scared and feared that I wouldn’t be the same person after the surgery and would no longer be happy in the relationship… I think had I went through with (the wedding), I would have continued to struggle my whole life and it would have been a life of constantly trying to make somebody else happy. When I chose to end the marriage, I chose me.”
Once Buettner reached her goal weight of 185 lbs. in August 2016, she completed her transformation by getting 10 lbs. of excess skin on her stomach and arms removed.
She also began a new relationship.
Today, to maintain her weight, Buettner eats a balanced and nutritious diet, and remains strict with her eating habits. She’s cut out carbs and now eats her meals from a bread plate to help with portion control.
Though recent swelling from the surgery has prevented her from doing regular exercise, Buettner is looking forward to going back to the gym in the near future.
If there’s one thing Buettner wants other women who struggle with their weight to realize, it’s that they deserve to be happy.
“If you feel unhappy and you’re struggling with your health, your weight or your relationship, don’t settle,” she says. “You’re worth more than that.”