You think you are going to lose all the weight and then love yourself' - Jennifer Carroll shed 12 stone but was left with two stone of excess skin
The young mum of one is now undergoing surgery to remove the excess skin
A young mum who shed an astonishing 12 stone so she could see her baby boy grow up has admitted she sometimes hates her new body.
After years of emotional eating, Jennifer Carroll (30), tipped the scales at 25st 8lbs. Knowing she had to drastically overhaul her lifestyle to give her son Carter (4), the best start in life, the Dublin-born banker turned to Slimming World and lost close to half her body weight in just one year.
But despite dropping from a size 32 to a svelte size 12, the Tallaght native was left with close to two stone of sagging skin, which she says crippled her confidence.
The devoted mum and social media influencer, who shares recipes and weight loss advice with her 80,000 Instagram followers, has now undergone life-altering surgery to remove 7lbs of excess skin from her stomach.
With more surgeries planned, the single mum, who is better known by her Instagram moniker @Jens_journey_ie, explains the emotional fallout that comes with extreme weight loss.
“You think you are going to lose all the weight and then love yourself – but then I realised I had all this excess skin and sag,” she told the Sunday World.
“Sometimes I look in the mirror and I hate what I see, even more so now than when I was obese. But then I feel guilty because I want to love myself and I want to be proud of what my body has achieved.
“I know how far I have come but when I look at myself in the mirror I feel abnormal. I have worked so hard and I have muscle definition because of that – but the skin hides it.”
With no other choice but to go under the knife, the health and fitness enthusiast turned to the Avoca Clinic.
“The clinic was great as they had a top surgeon that was an expert with the Fleur De Lis, which is like a skin tightening treatment.
“I decided to tackle my tummy area first because carrying the excess skin was both embarrassing and painful. I underwent surgery last week and they removed 7lbs of skin.
“I want my arms done next and then my breasts reconstructed, and also skin removed from my legs. So many people have reached ou tto me that have been living in shame about their bodies, that’s why I want to share my story because it can be a very lonely journey.”
Struggling with her weight since she was a child, the devoted mum admits: “I remember when I was 12 I was 12 stone. I was a secret eater and I had a huge appetite that I was ashamed of.
“I closed myself off because I knew that on nights out I would always be left there while my friends got chatted up.”
Moving to London to study Drama at the age of 19 only exacerbated the influencer’s weight problems. “I made friends easily and got into a relationship, but my weight spiralled. I remember being on a night out and noticing a girl taking pictures of me – I knew I would be the laughing-stock of someone’s WhatsApp group.
“I was constantly anxious and I always had a fear of being out in public and falling or tripping just in case someone caught it on camera and it went viral.”
Falling pregnant in 2015, Jen finally found her motivation in her son. “I was petrified because of my size that something would go wrong with the pregnancy.
“Early on I realised my scans were quite fuzzy and when I happened to see my friend’s sister’s scan I noticed hers was much clearer than mine.
“At my next scan I said it to the nurse and she just said ‘well, you have a lot of layers to get through’. I was so embarrassed – I was devastated.”
Despite delivering a healthy baby boy, Jen found herself trapped in an abusive relationship.
“I gained four stone in the first two years of Carter’s life because I was struggling from the fallout of my relationship."
Splitting with her partner in 2016, the brave mum admits she lived to eat, but with her health failing, Jen knew she had to take action.
“At one point my friend was forced to call an ambulance because she thought I was having a heart attack. It turned out I was suffering with acute pancreatitis. I needed surgery on my pancreas, but my local hospital couldn’t perform the surgery on me because I was too fat.
“I was raising Carter on my own and I knew I had to be healthy and happy for him. The thought did cross my mind that I was so big that I might die. Carter was my reason to change my life.
On Carter’s second birthday Jen started Slimming Word. “I wrote out Slimming World recipes and stuck them on all the kitchen cabinets and I lost 7lbs in the first week.”
Making the move home to Ireland to be with her family in July 2017, the young mum was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid and was put on medication and immediately embraced a more active lifestyle.
“When I got down to 20 stone I started personal training with Sean Harding in Back2BasicFitness. I really do believe he was meant to be my trainer because I never thought I would feel confident enough to train, but he guided me all the way.
I completely overhauled my diet and in just over a year I was down 10 stone. A year later I was down 12 stone.”
“My only regret in life is that I wish I could go back and tell myself that I deserved to be happy. My life has only just begun and I’m so excited to give Carter everything that I missed out on. He deserves the world and more.”