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Real Life

'My excess skin is making me sick!'

This Waikato mum lost 85kg, but she still doesn't love her body

It was a single question from a toddler that spurred Christie McGregor to change the course of her life. While picking up her son Myles, now six, from daycare in 2018, one of his classmates pointed at her and asked, "Why are you so fat?"
The question felt like a gut-punch to Christie, 29, who had ballooned to 160kg after suffering a devastating miscarriage and a life-long battle with endometriosis. Breaking down in a flood of tears, she returned to her Tirau home and told her husband Gage she was going to book herself in for gastric sleeve surgery.
"I couldn't live like that any more," Christie tells Woman's Day. "I could handle the cruel comments about my weight as I'd been bullied about it since school, but now it was affecting my son and I couldn't let that happen."
Before surgery, Christie's aim was to wear a bikini.
Struggling with her weight since she hit puberty, Christie – who is just 1.56m tall – had always turned to food as a source of comfort. "When people would comment about my weight, I'd buy a pie and eat it in front of them," she says."If I broke a chair, I'd laugh it off. I felt that if I made the joke first, no one else could."
The software specialist begged doctors to book her in for surgery within the public system, but she was denied several times. "Even though I couldn't even wipe my own bottom or bend to put on my shoes, I was still considered a 'healthy fat person' because I didn't have high blood pressure or cholesterol issues."
Excess skin is preventing Christie from achieving what she wants
Desperate to break her vicious cycle of binge eating, Christie took matters into her own hands, taking out a personal loan and flying to Tijuana to undergo gastric sleeve surgery at the Mexico Bariatric Center.
"I found out about it on Facebook, which felt a little strange, but then I connected with a few people from New Zealand who'd had successful treatment there and I knew this was my chance to make
a change," she says.
The biggest drawcard was the fact the entire procedure, including her flights and accommodation, cost just $10,000 – less than half of what it would've cost Christie had she done it privately in Aotearoa.
"I've worked so hard to get to where I am," says Christie.
With the surgery a success, Christie returned home to start her new life, ditching chocolate, pies and energy drinks for veges and salads. With daily exercise, the weight began to melt away.
"I'd start off walking one block and then the new goal was to walk two," says Christie proudly. "Before I knew it, I'd done 38 hikes in a year."
Even when she fell pregnant with her second son Jett, now two, Christie managed to maintain her weight loss, getting down to 68kg. But despite her hard work, the bulging excess skin around her stomach has proved to be her biggest battle yet.
"At first, I thought I would keep this skin forever because it proves what I've done and how far I have come," Christie explains. "But when I started doing more exercise and got into boxing, the physical pain the skin causes is horrible."
Christie and Gage on their wedding day
Full of sagging fatty tissue, the area is prone to nasty rashes and infections, and causes Christie severe lower back pain. The mere act of turning over in bed can be arduous, let alone working out.
"Every time I shower, I have to lie down so I can lift the skin and air it out," she says. "My belly button is constantly tender and infected."
The excess skin has also made the recovery from her third round of endometriosis surgery painstakingly long.
But it's not just the physical side that's taking its toll on Christie. "I've worked so hard to get to where I am," she says. "I should be able to buy my dream pair of denim shorts and feel confident, but the skin means I still wear a size 20. I can't ever imagine being able to wear a bikini. I feel like I'm going backwards."
Christie with her sons Jett (left) and Myles
Despite Christie's strict diet and gruelling workouts, doctors have told her the only way she'll lose the excess skin is via surgery. But with the operation costing anywhere from $18,000 to $26,000, the mum-of-two is at her wits' end.
"A family friend of mine encouraged me to start a Givealittle page," she says. "I do struggle asking people for help, but if you're reading this and you can donate in any way, I'd be forever grateful.
"I had no idea the effect the sleeve surgery would have on me. I look at old photos of me and I don't recognise the person I see. When I go to the park with my sons now, I don't have the fear of getting on a swing and breaking it. But this final surgery will give me the chance to complete my health journey – for me to finally feel confident in my own skin."
To help Christie lose her excess skin, search for "Christie McGregor" on Givealittle.co.nz.

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