Despite a healthy diet and regular exercise, 285-pound Jasmine's excess body fat put her at risk for diabetes. Here, why she went under the knife

Jasmine Banks

I've been gaining and losing weight my whole life. Two years ago, I weighed 285 pounds and I felt completely confident and sexy. Plus, I ran my first marathon, became a Zumba instructor, and even started playing roller derby.

"Wait," you're probably wondering, "why did you need to lose weight if you felt so confident and were living how you wanted?" Well, the extra pounds I had packed onto my body over the years from binging and disordered eating was a result of sexual abuse trauma I experienced at a young age. I used food to cope with how afraid I was. After the assault, the fat surrounding my body was a form of (delusional) protection. In some ways I believed, "If I can make myself bigger and less attractive to people, I'll be safe." But through work in therapy and an amazing support group, I was able to process all the trauma I had experienced. I was ready to stop using food to cope and hide from myself. Looking toward the future with a new sense of well-being, I was ready to discover who I was beneath the layers of armor I packed on. It was time to discover my true body.

My weight-loss journey started with therapy and learning mindful and intuitive eating practices. I met with a nutritionist on a weekly basis to learn how to feed my body properly. Years of yo-yo dieting and self-harming eating habits had distorted my view of food and my body. My nutritionist helped me re-learn the basics and encouraged me to fuel my body like an athlete-after all, I was running at least 25 miles a week and practicing six hours a week with my roller derby league.

Then I made a big decision-one I'm writing about for the first time here. On December 30, 2013, I underwent Roux En Y Gastric Bypass. I chose Gastric Bypass because it has the largest amount of research proving long-term success for patients who attend to their intake and keep physically active. I was physically active, eating well, and yet my body was continuing to creep closer to type 2 diabetes. The main cause of this dysfunction was my excessive abdominal fat, and I wanted to supercharge my weight loss and help my body do all it could to be healthy.

As a result of the surgery, I eat less food. I still eat everything I want, just in much smaller portions. I live by the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of my food choices are for nutrition and fueling my body for fitness. The other 20 percent is for celebration and cravings. My fitness life hasn't changed in a lot of ways-I still run and play roller derby and love being active-but I have lost a total of 110 pounds. But more important, I've lost countless pounds of emotional baggage.

Truth be told, one year later I am still adjusting to this new body. I am still learning to be confident in it. I kept my surgery a secret over this last year because I needed to make a choice for just myself and not take what others think into account. For many, gastric bypass is still considered "cheating" and I wanted to wait until I felt grounded before confronting inevitable criticism. And with each pound I shed, I learned to say goodbye to the past, the weight, and what it represented for me.

The weight may be gone, but my long-term goal is the same: to continue to do the work to take really good care of myself.

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