CARY, N.C. — When you see the before and after pictures, losing 100 pounds or more seems easy enough. What is it like while the weight is coming off and what happens if problems occur?
WRAL's Health Team is following a Cary woman through her life-altering journey.
"Weight has been an issue as far back as I can remember," said 26-year-old Jennifer Carlquist. "It's a daily struggle. Food is always what I've turned to to be there for me emotionally."
In September, Carlquist weighed 365 pounds.
"Everything's hurting. You feel like you're 80 years old and you're only 26" she said.
But what hurts Carlquist most is the teasing.
"Everything else is not acceptable to make fun of except overweight [people]," she said.
Diets did not work, so Carlquist tried something drastic -- gastric bypass surgery -- in hopes of losing 200 pounds.
"Right now, I'm very healthy. Five years from now, I wouldn't be," she said.
Before having surgery, Carlquist had to see a nutritionist, therapist and cardiologist.
She has stopped smoking and has learned that one in every 100 gastric bypass patients die during surgery.
"But the alternative is unacceptable, too. So I'm willing to take that chance," she said.
During the procedure on Nov. 3, surgeons took her stomach and formed a tiny new one, about the size of an egg.
"It was painful, I'm not going to lie about that," she said.
Now, food is no longer her best friend.
"You want that burger and that pizza and you see everyone else eating it," she said.
Instead, Carlquist "eats" 2 to 3 ounces of fluids about six times a day. Since her surgery, she has graduated to ingesting thicker foods, not just liquids.
The scales are already tipping in her favor. She has lost 26 pounds, with 174 more to go before her transformation is complete.
"It will mean I will match on the outside how I feel on the inside," said Carlquist who is young, energetic and ready to live her life.
WRAL's Health Team will continue to follow her progress.