Akeasha's Skin Tight

Many of you know my weight loss story and have read the details in my Facebook post earlier this year. 

Well, the journey is not over!  I continue to drop a few pounds and still work hard to find the healthiest me possible. However, it's time to tighten up this body.  I've got loose and sagging skin everywhere.  While the gym has helped, skin removal surgery is the answer for me.  I hope to have 3 or 4 surgeries over the next two years to target multiple areas of body and remove excess skin.  Sadly, insurance doesn't cover what they consider to be cosmetic procedure.  I've found a great doctor and have a payment plan, but really could use your help.

These surgeries and my request for help is my big ask. I'm cashing in all my chips, promises and favors.  This is the equivalent to my bridal shower, baby shower, anything you need favor promises and all celebrations wrapped up into one.  This is it.  A lot of people have asked what they can do to help and support me, so here it is.   Whether it's $5 or $500...any amount is greatly appreciated.  

My first surgery is October 19.  Don't ask me to spell medical name, but this one will work on my mid-section (I'll have a circumferential scar!) and my thighs.  I will be out for 4-6 weeks recovering.  It will be tough, but I'm very ready for the steps in my weight loss life change.  I'll do my arms, back and thighs (again) in the next rounds. 

Many thanks for reading this and any support you choose to give.  Y'all know where to find me if you have any questions.  Ask away, I'm an open book about this topic!

Oh and if you missed the story (or want to re-read the saga), here it is again.

A little over two years ago I decided to change my life. Some say it was because I was turning 40 that year. The number was considered, but really it was in relation to that age that things could happen. I was only 12 years away from the age my father was when he died suddenly. 12 years. As fast as time seems to move now, 12 years was nothing. Looking at my then 2 1/2 year old niece and waiting to meet my nephew, I knew I wanted to be around for them and me.

I quietly did research and met an amazing doctor. One info session later I was in. I knew Charley Procter would help change my life. I shared my plan with my biggest fans and support came plummeting in. I was ready. Terrified, but ready.

On January 5, 2015 I began what turned into an eight week liquid diet to prepare for weight loss surgery. It was by far the hardest thing I had ever started. I went from eating any and everything to protein shakes, 2 oz of plain oatmeal and a 1/2 cup of soup. There were a few other options but that was pretty much it everyday. Days 4, 9 and 13 were the hardest. I was breaking old habits, starting new ones and my mind and body were at war. I started taking aqua aerobic classes and walking everyday. I was motivated. Between my various personality traits, support people, my firm belief that everything happens for a reason in its own time and that it takes 3 weeks to make or break a habit...I stayed committed to my goal and refused to lose. I mean, I'm just too stubborn for that. I had made up my mind and was 100% ready.

I cried the night before my surgery. I had lost 50 pounds and was amazed, but wasn't done. I was ready for the next step but I'd never even had an IV let alone a hospital stay. What if I died? My wise mother graciously told me, "honey, we all are going to die. I hope this isn't your time, but if it is...well, you'll never know anyway. We're the ones left to deal with it." I just laughed. It sounded so odd, but she was right.

The following morning on February 25, 2015, I took the biggest leap of faith and had a Sleeve Gastrectomy. This is a weight loss surgery that removes about 80% of your stomach. Like, it's gone forever. Surgery went well, I was the perfect patient. (Duh, I'm perfectionist and winner!)

The hard work was just beginning. The first week was liquids only, followed by 3 weeks of puréed food. After a month, I was able to slowly introduce solid food back into my diet. My menu changed. Protein first then veggies. Little to no carbs. I only drank water and protein shakes. I could only eat a few ounces of food at a time. This restriction plus exercise pushed the weight off. I had lost 100 pounds in less than 6 months. I was thrilled!  I felt my life changing. Saw my body changing. It was very exciting.

Today I am less than half the size I was in Jan 2015.  It's been an amazing journey. I've worked very hard and consider myself lucky for all of the support I receive from family, work family, SSN ladies, friends and even the TSA girl that looks at my ID and does a double take and says wow. I committed to regular support groups, have seen a therapist, go to the gym and push myself to make little changes and constant decisions even when I don't want to. Most importantly, I don't beat myself up when I make a mistake. It happened, it's over, don't pick up that habit and move on. I'm not perfect but I am working hard to be a healthier me as much as possible.

Thank you Charlotte, Alexia and Anne for your support from day one, listening to my journey and never judging me.
Thank you Craig, Andrew, Claude and Joye for being the family that we chose, always accepting me and giving me support.
Thank you Gerrad for being my progress photographer and candid conversations. Megan and Kim thanks for walking and talking (even when none of us wanted to!) Mark and Leigh, thanks for calling me a badass and encouraging others not to be afraid to do the same. Steven, thanks for checking on me and making sure I didn't pass out on show days when I was too busy to eat!
Rob and Jeryl, who while we don't get to see each other enough, your genuine love is felt everyday and I love that we can tell it how it is. My SSN ladies Carolyn, Keri, Kathy, Holly and Shawnessy...you five keep it real, make me laugh and I cherish our time together. Niki and Holland...two cheerleaders I don't get to see enough. Thank you for being on my side. And last but not least, my fake BFF Vicki who never answers her phone but I know will always be there when I need her.

I'm fortunate to have always felt loved and accepted no matter what I've looked like. I have always been encouraged to do what I want and not let anything stop me. There are many things that are easier now. I know how blessed I am. I hope that this (really long, sorry!) story inspires you for yourself or for you to share with someone else - so that you find the strength to do whatever your heart desires.


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Akeasha Branch 
Lithonia, GA
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