Cecilia today, living her best life. In a world that often stigmatizes and misunderstands obesity, we must create spaces where people can feel safe regardless of where they are in their journey with their disease. On the other side of shame, blame and guilt, there exists a supportive, nurturing network of individuals willing to be vulnerable alongside others through their health journey.

Cecilia Jackson, from California, may be a newer face to the OAC, but her story is one of transformation. Through her passion for service and unwavering commitment to her faith, Cecilia has turned her personal struggle with obesity and compulsive eating disorder into a beacon of hope for others. She now dedicates herself to helping others through education, support, and friendship. In an interview with Olivia Robinson, OAC Communications Coordinator, Cecilia shares her health journey, her decision to seek bariatric surgery and her ongoing commitment to her health.

Cecilia’s struggles with obesity began around 30 years ago, which is when she developed a compulsive eating disorder. She notes the 90s as a difficult time for her, most notably in 1992, when she lost her mother. They shared a special bond, and when asked, Cecilia proudly states, “I was with her all the way til’ the end.”

In 2011, she tried dieting, and as a result, she lost 125lbs. Unfortunately, she eventually gained the 125lbs back, plus an additional 100lbs. At one point, she could not tie her shoes without the help of her son and sister. Among her challenges, she also suffered from edema (swelling caused by fluid buildup in the body’s tissues), which left her immobile without the use of a walker. As she took on various health issues such as pre-diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, Cecilia felt she could no longer continue with the standard of life she was living, and she knew something had to change for her.

Cecilia before her bariatric surgery.

“Enough is enough; I want to live.” – Cecilia.

Cecilia was approved for bariatric surgery after meeting a dietician and losing the required weight. When accessing obesity treatment, Cecilia states that she has a great primary care physician. Fortunately, her obstacles were minimal compared to her decades-long struggle with the disease, and access to treatment would not be a hurdle she’d endure. Having finally started the path towards improved health, Cecilia was determined to see it through, diligently following her pre-op procedures.

Now, four years post-op, Cecilia sits on a panel at a prominent hospital where she speaks and supports patients attending the Bariatric Group Meeting. She states that Cecilia went from struggling to tie her shoes to completing 45 minutes of cardio daily. Coined as her ‘New Transformation,’ bariatric surgery provided Cecilia with control over her life she hadn’t had before. Her practice of mindfulness and gratitude propels her health journey forward, as does her new-found love for nutrition and healthy eating.

Do You Want to Share Your Story or Be Interviewed?

Whether you have a story about navigating obesity, facing weight stigma or inspiring others, your voice is important. If you want to share your story to support, inspire or encourage others, please email membership@obesityaction.org. The power of your voice can light up a future issue of Weight Matters Magazine!