CARY, N.C. — For the past six months, WRAL's Health Team has been following a young Cary woman who had gastric bypass surgery.
When we last checked in with Jennifer Carlquist in March, she was starting to look like a whole new person. Two months later, she says she feels like one, too.
Since her surgery in November, Carlquist has gone from 385 to 242 pounds.
"I feel great, like a whole new person -- which is ironic, because I've lost a person," she said of her 143-pound weight loss.
The transformation is more than physical. Food is no longer a solution to her problems.
"I talk about it instead of going to the food and using that as my safety net," Carlquist said.
Carlquist is also free of her social anxiety disorder.
"I'd pretty much stopped leaving the house. Now you can't keep me here," she said enthusiastically.
For the first time in her life, Carlquist is dating.
"I figured I really wasn't missing much, but it's nice. It's nice to be wanted," she said.
Shopping is another exciting change. Carlquist has gone from size 34 to size 18.
There are some drawbacks, too.
Carlquist's hair is a bit thinner, and no matter how much she exercises, she has excess skin from losing so much weight so fast.
"The skin on my arms. I have my great-grandma's arms right now," she said.
Carlquist has 60 pounds to lose to reach her goal weight of 180 pounds. She does not know how long it will take to lose the weight, but vows to keep it off.
"I cannot and will not go back to what I was, period. I will never be out of control of my own body," she said. "I will always make the right decisions because I know what is at risk."
Carlquist's weight loss has also solved some serious medical conditions. She is no longer on any medications, including ones she took for diabetes.
Follow Carlquist's Progress:
Cary Woman Realizing Weight Loss Goals Months After Risky Surgery
Cary Woman Adjusts To New Lifestyle After Gastric Bypass Surgery
Losing Weight: WRAL Follows Cary Woman Through Life-Changing Journey