Binge eater’s amazing new look as she sheds 7st after therapist uncovers trigger
A diagnosed binge eater who weighed 20st 2lbs at her heaviest has undergone an incredible transformation after having gastric sleeve surgery.
Krissy Gennaro, 41, has lost a whopping 7st 3lbs and is still going after having the surgery 18 months ago.
“I was fairly slim until my early 20s,” Krissy, from New York, said. “I was in the military and I slowly started packing on weight while I was struggling with depression.”
Krissy’s weight gain caused her to quit her job with the US coastguard. In the years that followed, she fell pregnant and gave birth to her daughter, Brooke.
But she continued to pile on the pounds and reached her heaviest weight shortly after Brooke was born.
“I’d gain weight and then lose it. But I’d only get as far as losing 8lbs before something triggered the binge eating, and then I’d put it straight back on,” Krissy explained.
Krissy described binge eating as “filling a void” that she couldn’t control. When something triggered her, she’d seek comfort in sweets, cake and pizza.
“I know when it’s coming, It’s like a can of Pringles – once you pop, you can’t stop. I’d just spiral.
“When it happens, I know I shouldn’t be doing it, but I can’t stop thinking about it,” she explained.
After several attempts to shift the weight herself failed, Krissy made the difficult decision to have gastric sleeve surgery.
“It finally got to the point where I couldn’t do it anymore. I’d miss out on things. I’m a fun person and I like to go on adventures,” she said, recalling a red-faced moment from when she took Brooke to a carnival.
“I remember asking the guy on the ride if I’d be able to fit into the seat.”
So after researching the procedure and meeting with consultants, Krissy told her family about her decision.
“I showed Brooke some videos on Instagram from other people who had had the operation. I explained everything so well,” she said.
Now with her new partner Joe after splitting up with Brooke’s dad, Krissy explained the process to him and his daughter Bella, 17, too.
“I had to meet with a psychiatrist to make sure I was in the right frame of mind to have the operation,” she said.
“Then two weeks before the operation I was on a pre-liquid diet. I was mainly drinking protein shakes and eating yoghurt and jelly.”
Before long, Krissy’s operation date came around and she went under the knife to have part of her stomach removed.
“I was so miserable when I woke up because of the anaesthetic,” Krissy laughed. “But when it wore off I felt much better.”
She was kept in for observation for a few days before being sent home. Unlike some patients who undergo gastric sleeve surgery, Krissy was encouraged to start eating whole food again just two days after the op.
“I had things like chicken broth and found some recipes for really soft food on Instagram, like lasagne without the pasta,” she said.
Whereas Krissy could eat huge volumes of food before the operation, now she was only eating a few bites before feeling full.
But she knew the operation wasn’t enough – and she began to make lifestyle changes too.
She said: “I started walking rather than driving to places, even just to go to the shops. I also took the stairs rather than the escalator.
“If I was out on a hot day and I wanted an ice cream, I’d make sure I did some exercise first.”
When Krissy worked from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, she bought a mini elliptical machine to work out during the day.
“I used to get up every hour and do at least 250 steps to get my count up,” she said. As the weight fell off and she got fitter, Krissy started doing 2000 steps per hour.
She also started an Instagram account, @see_krissy_shrink, to document her journey.
However, it wasn’t always plain sailing for Krissy, and there were times when her urges to binge crept up on her.
“I gained about 17lbs during the pandemic. I didn’t realise at the time that I was anxious about everything and that caused me to put on weight,” she said.
Thankfully, Krissy is now working with a therapist who has helped her identify her triggers that made her fall back into bingeing and eating unhealthy foods.
Now, she finds it easiest to stick to an Atkins-style diet where she tries to eat fewer carbs and more protein.
“Instead of mashed potato, I’ll have mashed cauliflower. I also swap beef mince for turkey mince,” she said.
But she thinks it’s important not to deprive herself of things she wants – as long as she’s not eating that food all the time.
“The other day Joe and I really wanted a Five Guys takeaway, so I let myself have one,” she said.
Laughing, she added: “Although I could only eat a quarter of a burger and seven chips before I felt full!”
Krissy credits Joe with helping her get a grip on her binge eating and obsessive nature.
“He can tell when I’m going into a downward spiral and he can usually set me straight by letting me talk about it,” she said.
Now, Krissy weighs 12st 9lbs and she’s still keen to lose more weight, but she’s not setting a target for herself.
“If I set a specific weight, I’ll begin to obsess over it and it’s not healthy,” she said.
She’s looking forward to things she couldn’t enjoy for so many years, like shopping trips with Brooke.
“I feel so much better now I don’t always feel like I’m the biggest person in the room. If you sit next to me on the train, you’ll have space.
“I don’t have to worry about getting on a plane and not fitting in the seat anymore. It’s such a great feeling.”
Although she’s much happier in her slimmed-down frame, Krissy wants people to remember to be kind to those struggling with their weight.
“When you’re overweight, no matter what, there’s judgment of some kind. Even if they’re not thinking it in a harsh way, the judgment is there.
“Just remember, it’s your life and your journey. Everything else is just someone’s opinion.”