A size XXXL woman finally ditched her 5,000 calorie-a-day diet and shed nearly 140lbs (10 stone) after almost drowning because she was too heavy to be lifted to safety.
Surviving on a diet of greasy fast food, washed down with huge bottles of sugary drinks, despite trying numerous fad diets over the years, Dominique Montgomery, 22, ballooned until she hit 298 lbs (21st 4lb).
Dominique, of Los Angeles, California said her turning point came in early 2015, when she became trapped in a rapidly rising tide, explaining: ‘I was swimming around at the beach with some friends, feeling great, when all of a sudden, the tide got high.
‘Everyone managed to push themselves out of the water onto some rocks, but I was stuck, because I wasn’t physically able to lift myself out. Everyone tried to help, but I was too heavy.
‘I thought I was going to die and had no idea what to do. I was terrified.’
Dominique Montgomery, 22, from California has shed 298 lbs (21st 4lb) after a terrifying incident where she almost drowned
Dominique at her prom aged 17. She weighed almost 300lbs, thanks to her love of eating burritos the same size as her head
Thankfully, the water soon calmed and Dominique – who is studying kinesiology, the science of movement – was able to get back to shore.
But the incident left her shaken – and determined to change.
She continued: ‘If I couldn’t even help myself out the water, then what was I doing with my life?
‘There were strong feelings of shame and disappointment, after realising how terribly out of shape I was. I completely changed everything after that day.’
Dominique is now crowdfunding to raise $15,000 (£10,548) for an operation to remove loose skin
Speaking candidly, Dominique admitted she has struggled to maintain a healthy weight throughout her life, going on her first diet when she was just five-years-old.
As a youngster, she’d had to get specially made school uniforms to accommodate her frame, or shop in the boys’ section, where sizes were larger.
Growing up, her bulk even meant having to check weight limits before buying things like chairs and bicycles.
But, after trying and being unable to stick to a multitude of weight loss diets over the years, she eventually lost hope, resigning herself to a lifetime of obesity.
Dominique, pictured just before hitting her heaviest weight (left). Right: Dominique now after shedding almost 140lbs (10 stone)
She said: ‘I struggled with an eating disorder that most people don’t talk about – binge eating.
‘I couldn’t control how much I ate. I’d eat past feeling full, like my mind had to be satisfied before I’d stop.
‘Eventually, I stopped caring about how much I ate. As I was already so big, I thought nobody would notice if I ate more.’
At her heaviest, Dominique mostly survived on fast food and takeaways.
Dominique had to have her school uniforms, like this one, specially made to cater for her size (left). She is now speaking out about her weight loss journey to help inspire others
Portion size was also an issue, as her average orders would include things like fried chicken with double chips and two biscuits – a scone-like buttermilk bake – or a burrito ‘as big as her head’ with two large tacos on the side.
‘I would eat at least 5,000 calories a day. Sometimes, I would eat large shakes for dessert that were about 1,000 calories by themselves,’ she said.
As her waistline grew, Dominique’s self esteem diminished in tandem.
Desperate to avoid the cruel stares of strangers, she often ate in her car, out of sight.
But sadly, her size still made her a target for nasty jibes.
At her heaviest, Dominique, pictured here aged 16, wore a size XXXL (left). It will cost an estimated $15,000 to have the excess skin removed
‘People stared wherever I went. I felt like a zoo animal,’ she said. ‘Someone once even threw a burrito at me at a football game.
‘My confidence was low. I felt very hopeless and began to irrationally blame every problem in my life on being big.’
But, following her July 2015 wake up call, Dominique’s life has completely transformed.
She began by building up her stamina, going on walks, which turned to hikes, then progressing to jogs.
Setting herself strict goals, she carefully calculated how long it would take to achieve the size she hoped for, vowing to stick to her new healthy regime.
Following her July 2015 wake up call when she almost drowned, Dominique’s life has completely transformed
‘I had to overcome my impatient mind and be driven by belief and determination,’ she said, adding that she also overhauled her diet, ditching the fast food and fizzy drinks.
Now, through diet and exercise alone, Dominique has shed almost 140lbs (10 stone), and wears a size four to six (UK 8 to 10).
But, her transformation has left her with aprons of excess skin hanging from her stomach, back, arms, thighs and bottom, which she is desperate to have removed.
Despite her achievement, her procedure is classed as cosmetic, so she will have to pay around $15,000 (£10,548) for the operation, and has set up a crowdfunding page to help her raise the money she needs.
Dominique, pictured here aged 12, first went on a diet when she was just five-years-old (left). She has been left with excess skin following her transformation, which she is desperate to have removed
‘If I do jumping jacks, my stomach flaps. It can be a nuisance, but also painful,’ she said.
‘I still can’t wear all the clothes I dreamed of. I’m big on fashion and don’t feel as if I can truly express myself how I’ve wanted.’
As she waits for surgery, Dominique is hoping that, by sharing her story, she will inspire others hoping to lose weight, showing them that is it possible through sheer hard work.
Dominique decided to slim down after almost drowning because she was too heavy to be lifted to safety
Offering advice, she said: ‘Don’t track your progress by how long it takes, but by how far you’ve come physically, mentally and emotionally.
‘Don’t think about where everyone else is – just accept that regardless of where you start, you’ll start at your own pace.
‘You will have ups and downs – there have been days where I messed up, but I didn’t lose sight of the overall goal. Belief, acceptance, patience and willpower – they really get you somewhere.’
To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/dominiquecmontg