A morbidly obese size XXXL bank worker paid more than $2,119 (£1,500) per lb of flesh to have aprons of saggy skin removed from her abdomen after shedding half her 250lb (25st) bulk.
Now confident about her svelte 168lbs (12st) figure, Liz Penas, 30 – who lost weight to improve her chances of seeing her beloved niece, Claire, now two, grow up – has released photos of the 7lb flab she had sliced off.
Revealing how she paid $15,000 (£10,869) to have the folds removed and a breast augmentation in November 2017, single Liz, of Lincoln, Nebraska, admitted that her body ‘looked deflated’ with her excess skin.
Liz Penas, 30, from Lincoln, Nebraska, knew that she needed a lifestyle overhaul when she reached 250lb (25 stone)
After: The bank worker paid $2,119 (£1,500) per lb of flesh to shed her excess flesh after her weight loss
She said: ‘After losing weight, the excess skin I was left with meant I didn’t feel like myself at all.
‘At my heaviest, I had some insecurities, but my weight loss was never about hating myself.
‘I accepted my body. I’d lived in it my whole life, and I never struggled with bullying, or getting boyfriends or anything.’
Big even as a youngster, Liz had hit 196lbs (14st) by the time she left primary school.
Of her weight gain, Liz said: ‘With nobody watching over me, my diet was terrible,’ she said. ‘My portion sizes were huge’
Liz said her body looked ‘deflated’ after shedding half her body weight and being left with excess skin
Then, after moving away to college in her twenties, her diet spiralled completely out of control.
‘With nobody watching over me, my diet was terrible,’ she said. ‘My portion sizes were huge.’
At her heaviest, Liz admitted that all three of her main daily meals would be fast food – washed down with up to six sugary coffees a day.
She continued: ‘I’d eat Mexican food, chips, burgers – all your typical junk – followed by snacks in between.
She says her diet ‘spiraled completely out of control’ when she went to university as she would live on a diet of junk food
‘I’d never get just one thing either. If I stopped at a McDonald’s, I’d get two or three sandwiches.
‘I remember looking once at the meal I’d get from Chick-Fil-A, a fried chicken takeaway I’d visit all the time. The sandwich I’d order was 1,200 calories alone – and I’d top it off with two 900 calories cookies.
‘All in all, I shudder to think how many calories I was eating in a day.’
Though she experienced some typical side effects of obesity, like low energy levels and joint pain, Liz’s regular check-ups at the doctor never found her size to be having a severe impact on her health.
Despite her heavy weight, Liz says she would never be told she was suffering health problems when she visited the doctor
She added candidly: ‘Deep down, I knew my luck would run out eventually. I was almost hoping the doctor would say something that’d shake me, making me change.’
Finally, at the beginning of 2016, Liz moved back to Nebraska, after living on the East coast for a while, to be nearer her family after little Claire – her 29-year-old brother Josh’s daughter – was born.
Being around her adorable niece so much, she realised the importance of being a good role model and became determined to go on a health kick.
Ditching the junk food, she managed to shed just over 70lbs (5st).
It was when her niece was born that Liz decided she wanted to shed the weight so she could be a good ‘role model’
Liz had gastric sleeve surgery which meant she got fuller faster and started to eat less
Then, in July 2016, she had gastric sleeve surgery – where part of the stomach is removed meaning patients get fuller faster, so eat less – at Bryan Medical Centre in Lincoln, Nebraska,
‘Waking up after the operation was emotionally overwhelming,’ she said. ‘I was on an all-liquid diet for a few weeks afterwards, and it seemed so extreme that I wondered if I’d done the right thing.
‘But I was so desperate for a change.’
By January 2017, Liz had slimmed to an impressive 168lbs (12st) – but she soon noticed an unexpected side effect.
She said she was ’emotionally crippled’ after she struggled to love her new figure with excess skin
She worked hard saved up so she could spend $15,000 (£10,869) to remove her excess skin
‘My body looked deflated. I had all this saggy skin around my stomach,’ she said.
‘I’d taken a break from dating and decided to get back into it after my surgery, but found I needed to justify my body in a way I never had before.
‘It was emotionally crippling to work that hard and still not want someone to see my body.’
So, after working hard to save up, Liz paid $15,000 (£10,869) for skin removal surgery and a breast augmentation in November 2017.
Liz has a new diet consisting of nutritious, freshly-made, vitamin-packed meals to keep the weight off
She says she ‘cried’ when she looked in the mirror after having the excess skin removed
Now, her diet is virtually unrecognisable, filled with nutritious, freshly-made, vitamin-packed meals.
She also keeps her new figure toned by hitting the gym.
‘I try not to obsess over calories, but instead focus on having a balanced diet,’ she said.
‘Throughout my journey, I’ve used Instagram as a way to connect with others who know what I was going through. Now, looking back, it’s almost like my diary, reminding me of how I felt and what I needed to get off my chest.
‘The skin removal surgery has been life-changing for me. The first time I saw the results in the mirror, I cried. Finally, all my hard work has paid off – and it feels amazing.’
Liz has been using social media sites like Instagram to document her weight loss journey