Melanie Calvert Benton of Pearl, Mississippi struggled most of her life to control her weight issues. She made many attempts to lose the weight, but nothing proved successful until now.
Benton was partly motivated by the statistics of Mississippians. According to the Mississippi Department of Health, as of July 2009, Mississippi officially has the highest rates of childhood and adult obesity. This marks the fifth year in a row that Mississippian adults have topped that list. The percentage of children overweight in Mississippi is a full 6.9% higher than second place. Benton hopes her story will motivate change.
"Can you tell the difference? This is what I was wearing last year at about this time," says Benton as she shows the old pair of pants she used to wear.
51-year-old Melanie Calvert Benton has struggled with her weight for as long as she can remember. It finally occurred to her that her health was in jeopardy.
"I struggled with weight loss almost all of my life. And I had to make a decision whether I wanted to live or die. And I chose to live."
Choosing to live, meant getting into better physical shape and making healthier decisions. Benton tried Weight Watchers, Sugar Busters, and Alli. All of them were failed attempts to shed the pounds. That's when she decided to get gastric bypass surgery.
"I chose gastric bypass because I knew it would be permanent and it would be something that I couldn't cheat at."
After the surgery, Benton realized she had made the right decision for herself. Her physical appearance changed drastically.
"This time last year I was wearing 22, 24, 26 depending on how it fit me. I'm now wearing a size 16 in a top and still coming down. It's a wonderful feeling," exclaims Benton.
But the surgery changed more than Benton's outside appearance. Gary Benton, her husband of three years, says her self confidence thrived.
"As she said previously and has told me many times, she had low self esteem. low self-worth. But following the surgery it was a different makeup of her ego. She is much improved, much happier. She's realized the stereotype of a fat person always being happy is not true," reflects Gary Benton.
Now that Benton has gone through the surgery, she says she lives an overall healthier life style. With healthy living, she is able to do more of what she loves.
"It's an everyday commitment toward being a healthier person where I can do the everyday things I love like my photography, my writing, talking to people," says Benton excitedly.