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Jen Moore’s weight loss journey

Written By fahmi ramadhan on Wednesday, 18 March 2015 | 03:15

The 34-year-old had been on US TV a few times, sharing the story of how she lost an amazing 64kg through healthy eating and exercise. But this time she felt very uncomfortable.

“I had two ladies in there from wardrobe and they’re stuffing me into Spanx and pinning it, making sure all the skin, the bulges are smoothed on top,” Jen says. “It felt really embarrassing. I wanted to look good performing and here I am having to be stuffed in all this.”

On screen, covered from head to toe in her sleek, black workout gear, the contours of Jen’s body looked great. But underneath was a different story.

In the 10 months since she had her fourth child, Lachlan, she was still struggling to shift the last 14kg of baby weight and the scales hovered at 88kg.

Most of that fat was trapped in her loose stomach that hung so far down her thighs it covered her private parts.

“My skin was pushed down so low my bellybutton was basically on top of my vagina,” she says. “I could pick it up with both hands like I was cradling a baby.”

“I did look good when I stuffed myself into all this compression gear, but when I looked at myself in the mirror naked, I felt like a melted candle.”

On that January 2014 day, sucking in and unable to breathe properly, Jen went on the studio floor and started hooping.

It was the latest body battle for Jen who had been obese most of her life. By 2009 after having her third child (one died in infancy) she weighed 130kg and at 5ft 4 was morbidly obese. But by the end of 2010 through healthy eating and learning to hula-hoop dance with the fitness program Hoopnotica, Jen had shed half her body weight.

She appeared on TV with her husband Keith, 36, who had also lost an impressive 44.5kg. Now trained fitness instructors, they were role models for people struggling to lose weight.

But while Keith — who had gone from 130kg to 86kg — didn’t have any excess flesh, Jen did. “I had excess skin when I first lost the weight,” she says, “but it was really once I had Lachlan that I started getting rashes and felt uncomfortable.”

In the meantime her media appearances continued and Jen, who could hide her weight gain quite well, continued to wow … albeit while stuffing her body into Spanx underwear.

“It felt really shameful,” she says, “because I’d been so open about sharing my journey. And it did feel good to hear people say, ‘You look amazing. You’ve maintained all this weight loss’.”

Only Jen, her husband and GP knew the truth — the real after effects of extreme weight loss.

She says, “If I was doing jumping jacks you could hear it flapping on my thighs. Or if I would do a plank it would just hang there. I wasn’t able to do squats because — compression gear or not — it would all get pushed down between my legs. I was so selfconscious.”

When she was having sex she’d have to put a pillow underneath her skin so it wouldn’t flap.

“Keith never made me feel less than absolutely sexy but I felt, ‘I can’t do this. My skin is bouncing’,” she said.

It was only after doing some research online that Jen realised she had a genuine medical condition; the excess skin was called a pannus and the procedure to remove it is a panniculectomy.

“After years of morbid obesity my mind was so messed up that I thought, ‘This is just my body’,” Jen says. She didn’t think she deserved to have the excess skin removed.

But her GP convinced her that she had a “pretty severe pannus” and should have the procedure done.

In February 2014, with Keith’s support, Jen went for a free consultation with a plastic surgeon at her local hospital. But while the doctor was confident he could do a great job, her medical insurance refused to cover the US$10,000 cost of the surgery.

“I was sobbing on the phone with my surgeon’s office. I thought, ‘Maybe this is a sign. Maybe I just don’t deserve it’.”

Over the next seven months Jen appealed the insurance company’s decision and was ultimately rejected four times.

But in the interim she started blogging and opened up on Instagram, exposing the reality behind extreme weight loss with more than 1,000 followers.



“I started to be real with people,” Jen says. “I didn’t go on Facebook and say, ‘Yay, I’m so happy today’.

“I was like, ‘Guys, look at my face. Here’s a picture of my stomach. I’m a frickin’ mess. This is what I am today’.

“And women connected with that authenticity.”

For Jen that honesty paid off in spades because when a friend suggested she create a GoFundMe.com page to raise the money she needed to have the surgery, she was stunned at the response.

“I put it up there with a goal of US$5,000 and I was completely blown out of the water that people were supporting it,” Jen says.

“People were quietly following my journey and were really invested.

“All of a sudden, within the first week, about US$600 had been donated. I thought I’d raise US$100.”

That September after her medical insurance finally failed to cover the cost of the operation it was a Facebook friend who ultimately decided to loan Jen the final US$5,000 so she could pay the $10,000 medical bill.



So in December 2014, an excited Jen went into her plastic surgeon’s office and had her pannus removed, a tummy tuck, her bellybutton repositioned and excess fat removed from her vagina.

“Almost every single person who has this procedure also has liposuction,” says Jen who admits her doctor planned to do that too during the four-hour operation.

“But once he removed the skin he found that my figure underneath was so good — from the hooping — that he didn’t have to do any liposuction.”

After she took off the bandages Jen noticed an immediate change — and it wasn’t just that a stone of extra skin had been removed.

“My stomach was flat,” she says. “I could look down and see my vagina!”

The list of things that have improved in her life — from sex and hooping to being able to wear lingerie — is extensive. Even breathing is easier.

Now, Jen — who admits at her lowest moments she was tempted to regain all the weight she lost — says: “I can finally see all my hard work and not have all that extra skin that was a mental and physical reminder of my old lifestyle and what I used to be.”
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