Kenzi Groft is 21 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall, and currently weighs 145 pounds. In 2015, after a series of health problems caused by her weight, her doctors told her she had to pursue a healthier lifestyle if she wanted to live.
This is her weight-loss story.
The turning point
My weight started becoming an issue around my junior year in high school. I had a really horrible breakup and started emotionally eating to the point where I was gaining nearly 5 pounds a week. My freshman and sophomore years, I weighed around 160 pounds, then by the end of my junior year, I was already at 260 pounds. By the time I graduated, I was almost 300 pounds.
After I dropped out of college because of my horrible self-esteem and a few recurring health issues, I went to the doctor. While I was there, they told me I was going to have to have my gallbladder removed and that I had kidney stones, two ovarian cysts, and was at a very high risk for blood clots because of my weight and the fact that I had started smoking cigarettes in college to combat my stress and depression. They basically told me that if I didn’t do something about my lifestyle that I would be dead by age 30. I didn’t want this. I wanted to be more. I wanted to do something with my life, not just get fat and die before I could really even live. I had to do something before it was too late.
For the first few weeks, I took baby steps. I cut down on the food I was eating and went out for a walk a few times a day. It was so hard though, I could hardly get up the stairs let alone go on mile-long walks. I ended up getting sick again and landed myself in the hospital with stomach ulcers and lost about 30 pounds there.
When I finally got out of the hospital, I completely ramped it up. I started walking more on my own. I would take my dogs for walks and go to the dog park with them and actually play instead of just sitting. I hired a personal trainer, and I trained with her almost four times a week, using the other days to work out on my own. I joined a slow-pitch softball team to try and make exercising a little bit more fun. I switched jobs and started working somewhere that required a lot of physical activity instead of just standing behind a counter all day long. I cut out all refined carbs and junk foods and started drinking a lot more water. I mainly ate protein and veggies, with a few protein shakes as well to help curb hunger between meals. I cut down my portion sizes, and in an entire day, I ate about one-third of what I used to eat in one meal. This was incredibly hard, and I struggled for a long time. I had to keep emergency Cheez-It crackers in my car for cravings!
I honestly felt exhausted. It was really hard to stay motivated, and I fell off track a few times, especially after some of the surgeries I had to have. After awhile though, I started to get used to it, and as the weight started coming off, I began to feel better. I could stand up for longer periods of time, and my knees and back didn’t hurt as badly. I could breathe better, and I managed to get up and down the stairs without feeling like I had just run a marathon.
My parents and my brother kept me motivated. My brother had to do the same thing to join the Air Force, and as I watched him become successful, I realized I wanted to be like him. My mom has always pushed me to do better, and my dad coached me all through elementary and high school in almost every sport that I played. He constantly pushed me and encouraged me to keep going even when I wanted to give up, just like he did on the softball field.
After I lost the weight, I felt fantastic. I was no longer depressed, and my self-esteem was great. I was no longer afraid to be out in public, I didn’t get nasty stares or hateful comments anymore. I went from being totally introverted and shy to being outgoing. I wasn’t afraid to speak to people anymore. My parents were proud of me, and doing everyday tasks that were hard for me when I was bigger became so much easier. My knees and back no longer hurt at all, except after a hard leg day. I was finally happy again. I could take pictures and not be embarrassed. I didn’t mind dressing up and showing some skin. I finally felt free.
The way people reacted when I lost the weight really surprised me. People from high school who wouldn’t have anything to do with me when I was bigger started talking to me. It was almost like I was treated as a totally different person, whereas when I was larger they almost treated me like a second-class citizen just because of my weight.
My exercise and eating is pretty much the same as it was when I was trying to lose the weight, but I allow myself to eat junk food here and there. I also don’t have to exercise as much, but I continue to swim and take walks to maintain my weight, and I am still at the same physically demanding job that I was at when I first started to lose weight. I try to eat healthy, but I am not nearly as hard on myself as I was in the beginning. It’s nice to enjoy some pizza or fried chicken every once in awhile.
Work constantly has me up on my feet and running around, and it definitely helps me maintain a healthy lifestyle. I try and get up and walk my puppy every day so that she can get the exercise she needs and I can stay on track. I also still suffer from some pretty bad health issues, specifically stomach ulcers, so even though it can be tough, I stick to a pretty good diet to maintain my weight and not irritate my ulcers.
My parents and my brother still inspire me each and every day. My brother’s efforts to get to where he is and how hard he works to serve this country and keep me safe inspires me to keep pushing so one day I can be like him. I see so many of my friends reaching their goals and chasing their dreams, and I want to reach my dreams too.
One thing I still struggle with today is my self-esteem and some health issues that stem from when I was still large. I did it to myself so I cannot complain much, but some of the scars I have from the surgeries I have had really do a number on me. I got skin removal surgery on my belly to get rid of some of the excess, but I still have a significant amount on my arms, in between my thighs, and on my butt, and my breasts are not where I would like them to be. I try to remember where I came from and why I have these scars, and the memories and battles that came along with them, to try and not let them get me down. They are a part of who I am, my journey, and I hope that one day I can learn to love them and all of my flaws.
My best advice is to never give up. If you fall off track, please pick yourself back up! You can do it. I never thought I could, but here I am now, having lost half my body weight. If you feel like you can’t do it one day, then don’t do it, but the next day pick yourself back up and push harder than ever.
We all make mistakes, and no one is going to have a perfect journey. There will always be challenges and hiccups that get in the way and make you feel like it’s not worth it or it’s never going to happen, but I promise if you stick with it, it will.
Go at your own pace and just keep pushing yourself a little more each day. It is hard — so, so, hard. I’m not going to lie and say that it’s easy, because it’s not. You just have to believe in yourself and keep your eyes on your goal ahead and remember why you wanted to do this in the first place.