by: Diana Davis Updated:
CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. - A once-600-pound Clayton County woman told Channel 2 Action News she has lost more than 350 pounds without any surgery.
Val McLeod will be featured in People magazine's New Year's weight loss issue.
"I was just this mammoth person," McLeod told Channel 2's Diana Davis.
At about 600 pounds, a lifetime of
overeating finally caught up with McLeod.
In the hospital more than 20 years ago for gastric bypass and gallbladder surgery, McLeod said she had to be weighed on a loading dock scale. She said she nearly died in surgery.
"I was committed at that moment to say, 'I will never, ever do anything else to continue to destroy my
life,'" McLeod said.
With surgery no longer an alternative, McLeod said she hired a nutritionist and joined Weight Watchers.
"I didn't know what it was to eat healthy or what a normal portion of food was like," McLeod said.
She learned in weekly Weight Watchers meetings.
"This is a very personal journey. You have to go through it on your own, but it's so important to have someone there who understands and who supports your success," McLeod said.
McLeod said she was overweight since childhood, almost from the time she was a newborn. Though she told Davis she smiled on the outside, public ridicule, rejection and looks of disgust hurt.
"I wanted people to see that I was more than this
600-pound woman, that I had a heart and I had feelings," McLeod said.
She was so heavy she couldn't find clothes that fit. She made her own with upholstery fabric.
"And I would roll out as many yards as I needed, put elastic in the waist band and that was my clothes," McLeod said.
She told Davis that she now eats a low-fat diet, filled mainly with fruits and vegetables. McLeod said she walks and works out with weights and a personal trainer.
When People magazine called last summer to feature her in its New Year's weight loss issue, McLeod says her determination grew. She's lost 370 pounds. She says if she can, anyone can.
"Release the resistance, let go of limitations because it's a lie. You absolutely can do it. I start my day with a declaration about my health, my fitness, about my future and how synergized those two concepts are. That I won't have a future without being more fit," McLeod said.
McLeod hopes to lose another 50 pounds in the next year. She says the real payoff will be when she's able to get into a stylish size 14 suit for the first time.
She bought the suit 15 years ago.