Things really took a turn a few months later, though. I was 16 and experiencing terrible stomach pains. A medical examination revealed I had polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) , a hormonal imbalance that affects the ovaries.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Britt Nicholson (@sleevedbritt) on May 14, 2019 at 6:45am PDT

In my case, the pain was caused by a ruptured cyst. As a result, in order to regulate my symptoms and menstrual cycle, I was required to have a birth control shot administered to me every three months for the foreseeable future. I soon realized, however, that I was way hungrier than ever before since I started getting the shot.

During my first three years on the birth control, I went from weighing 175 pounds to weighing 250.

I couldnt stop comparing my body to those of other girls and I wanted to make a change. So, I tried diet programs including Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem, or Id eat in a dramatic calorie deficit restricting myself to 500 calories per day while hitting the gym with my dad about three times per week. But I was inconsistent and practicing methods that weren't sustainable for me. No matter what I tried, I never saw results, so Id give up before trying again a few months later-and then giving up again.

Frustrated, I thought: Whats the point of trying to be healthy if my weight wasnt budging anyway? I ended up filling my days with fast food. In college, for example, I spent time in between classes, my job, and my internship at the drive-thru to pick up a quick meal. My routine soon became eating around 3,000 calories of greasy food and drinking two or three sodas per day. And by the time I was in law school, weighing 285 pounds, Id completely given up on trying to lose weight. I was busy, plus, nothing Id done before worked anyway.

View this post on Instagram Hi! For those planning to follow my journey, I thought you might like having a face to go along with the name. My name is Britt, Im 25 years old, and this is my first unfiltered before photo __________________ #wls #vsg #bariatricsurgery #weightloss #medicallysupervisedweightloss #wlscommunity #wlsadvice #vsgadvice #wlstips #wlstipoftheday #wlssupport #vsgcommunity #vsgsurgery #vsgsupport #wlsapproval #wlsinsurance #wlssupport #wlsjourney #verticalsleeve #verticalsleevegastrectomy #vsgbefore #vsginstacrew #vsgeats #vsgjourney #weightlossjourney #weightlossmotivation A post shared by Britt Nicholson (@sleevedbritt) on Aug 24, 2018 at 11:17am PDT

After I graduated at 25, I went to my doctor to discuss weight-loss plans.

He mentioned surgery, which was something Id never considered before. I initially wrote the suggestion off because it seemed like a dramatic option. I could just cut back on soda and try to live a healthier lifestyle instead of paying a large sum to go under the knife.

So, I gave a lifestyle change one more shot. I stopped getting the birth control shot, since I believed it to be responsible for my weight gain. I committed to eating healthier foods and exercising. I was happy to see I lost some weight, but then my cysts came back, and I had to get back on the birth control. I tried other forms of birth control to see if they might affect my hunger levels differently, but I soon realized that the shot was my best option. But my weight back up 280 pounds, so I decided that surgery-vertical sleeve gastrectomy-might make sense for me.

Preparations for my surgery included six months of supervised classes about nutrition and exercise.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Britt Nicholson (@sleevedbritt) on Mar 5, 2019 at 4:27pm PST

These courses ensured Id maintain a healthy lifestyle after getting a surgical head start. I got surgery in September 2018 and had 80 percent of my stomach removed, meaning Id feel full much sooner.

During my first six months post-op, I lost 80 pounds. Since I was still adjusting to the new size of my stomach, I was restricted to eating about six ounces of food per day at first. Month by month, I was able to add more and more food to my diet.

A lot of people who get this surgery go back to eating junk foods and gaining back the weight theyd been losing. But I was determined to put in the work required to finally see a change in my body. I stop eating when Im full and I eat treats in moderation. I eat around 1,000 calories per day (which is healthy for the size of my stomach), do intermittent fasting, and restrict my carb intake.

A day of meals usually look like this for me:

  • Breakfast (at noon) : Yogurt and fruit, or a protein shake
  • Lunch : Chicken or ground turkey with cheese and cauliflower or broccoli
  • Dinner : Chicken or ground turkey with a fruit or with spaghetti

View this post on Instagram Here is an easy chicken dinner I made tonight. Its low calorie, low carb, high protein, and delicious! Its also great for the rest of the fam. I made it for me and my husband, I just doubled his chicken portion size and added jalapeos under his cheese bc he likes some heat __________________ #vsgeats #vsgfood #wlseats #wlsfood #weightloss #pcos #pcosweightloss #weightlosssupport #wlsbabes #vsgjourney #vsgcommunity #vsgmotivation #vsgsurgery #wlsmotivation #getit #transformation #teamlosing #vsg #wls #wlscommunity #weightlossjourney #vsgjourney #weightlosstransformation #weightlossmotivation #weightlossinspiration #journey #wlsjourney #wlsprogress #vsglife A post shared by Britt Nicholson (@sleevedbritt) on Feb 7, 2019 at 5:45pm PST

Even if its not an intense workout, I make sure to exercise every day, too: I do Orangetheory , a high-intensity training class that consists of cardio workouts and strength training, four times a week. And I also work out at the gym ( Planet Fitness ) once or twice a week. Plus, I take a long walk with my dog every day.

Though it might seem like it to some people, weight-loss surgery is *not* the easy way out.

I no longer feel like my life revolves around food. For me, seeing how surgery helped change my body gave me the motivation I needed to be consistently healthy-instead of falling into fad diets and then giving them up.

I want people to understand, especially my followers on Instagram , that surgery doesnt make a weight-loss journey any less valid and maintaining the lifestyle change requires tons of focus, hard work, and sacrifice.