At her heaviest, 36-year-old Hope weighed 322 pounds. She was classified as morbidly obese, and, following years of bullying, suffered from depression. Amazingly, Hope has now dropped down to just 168 pounds, however her weight loss battle is far from over. The mom-of-two from California is now hoping to raise $100,000 for surgery to have her unsightly excess skin removed.
Hope's weight began to steadily creep up after the birth of her two children — daughter Regan, 11, and 9-year-old Malcolm.
She said: "I would eat whatever I could find. For breakfast, instead of eating a bowl of cereal, I would have a big meal — maybe leftover pizza or something. I'd eat a family size lasagne for lunch, and for dinner, we would eat out a lot. I always had a dessert as well — a pint of ice cream and a full box of cookies. I drank a lot of Sprite and Dr. Pepper, and I would never check out at the grocery store without grabbing a couple of chocolate bars."
"At that point, I was feeling depressed and had anxiety," she continued. "I had no self-confidence. I didn't care about myself. It impacted my ability to do things with my daughter, in a way. I just didn't have the energy to take [my kids] to the park and things like that."
"I would sit on the bench eating snacks. I would feel guilty about being so fat, and then I would binge," she continued. "I hated my body. I would cover up with baggy tops and pants. I despised everything about myself."
This self-hate was only perpetuated by the vicious bullying that Hope was subjected to at school.
She said: "I went to a private school, and I was immediately rejected. It was the kind of place where everyone was a Barbie and athletic, and I weighed 250 pounds. The bullying was relentless. It was really, really hard for me as a kid, and it made me feel like less of a person. I didn't deserve it."
"The day I went to my first football game, I was standing at the bottom of the seats and about 30 people started chanting 'fat cow' at me and throwing cans of drink and trash at me. It was a really terrible experience. Boca means 'cow' in Spanish. Every time I walked down the corridor, that's what everybody called me. They screamed it at me," she continued.
"It made me really really depressed, and I would cut myself. I felt like such a loner. I could never meet people, so I started calling DJs on radio stations. I had this one I would talk to everyday. He felt like my only friend from the age of 12 years old."
But Hope has managed to work through her past with the help of therapy, admitting, "It took so long for me to get to this point, but I forgive them. I did this for myself, and I couldn't care less about what they think of me now. I don't need their approval in any way. I'm so proud of how far I have come. I feel victorious."
Hope, who has been married to husband Johnny, 37, for 13 years, was able to overcome her demons after beginning to attend therapy in September 2015, which she said helped her to understand "the side of me that binged and didn't care."
After introducing small changes into her life, like going for short walks and cutting down on her portion sizes, she was able to shed 56 pounds in one year.
Hope, who is 5'6", really stepped up her weight loss bid at the beginning of this year — limiting her calories to 1,700 a day and hiking a minimum of three miles a day, which then turned into six miles a day. Incredibly, Hope has already lost 98 pounds this year alone, and has slimmed down from a size 2XL to a size L.
She said: "Before, when I looked in the mirror, I was disgusted with how I looked. Now, I feel a million times better, and I'm more confident. I always wanted to be able to wear dresses and heels and look pretty — now I can.
"I'm so proud that I have come this far," she continued. "When I'm hiking, one of the things I love is that no one is around to watch me cry happy tears. There are so many times when I'll be pushing myself to do things I never thought I would be able to do before, and I will cry because it feels so amazing."
You can follow Hope's journey on her Facebook page.
This post was written by Emma Dodds. For more, check out our sister site Closer.
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