Weight Loss Winner: St. Clair Shores woman loses 175 pounds - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Weight Loss Winner: St. Clair Shores woman loses 175 pounds

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Michelle Pierce after losing the weight Michelle Pierce after losing the weight
Michelle before losing the weight Michelle before losing the weight
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -

It can creep up on you without you realizing it. One day you step on the scale and you're obese. That's what happened to a St. Clair Shores woman who never though she would lose the weight.

Never has Michelle Pierce felt more full of life, but what got her there was fear of death.

"My back and my joints and everything was hurting," she said. "I thought I kind of was doomed to a life like that."

Pierce doesn't know exactly how it happened, but one day she woke up weighing more than 330 pounds.

"I was working hard. I wasn't getting as much exercise as I had been," she said.

Like so many, her job required long hours sitting at a desk. Food turned into a fast frenzy with little consideration given to calories.

"I would go and get a milkshake and hamburger. I might have had lunch just an hour or two before, but dinner was another couple hours away, and so I'd do that in between a meal," she said.

Looking back, Pierce knows after the unexpected death of her mother she went looking for comfort and found it in food.

"I remember going to the grocery store not long after she passed away and I filled my cart with cookies and ice cream and nothing healthy, not a vegetable, not a fruit," she said.

The more she turned to food, the more Pierce withdrew from life. Then finally one day, some words from her doctor hit her hard.

"It's not an issue of if you're going to become a diabetic, it's when because it's here and it's coming," she said. "That pretty much scared me straight."

Eventually, Pierce found her way to Beaumont Grosse Pointe bariatric surgeon Abdelkader Hawasli, who called her a perfect candidate for a procedure called sleeve gastrectomy.

"Removing about 75 to 80 percent of the stomach. It's called a sleeve because it's shaped like a sleeve, and the stomach actually is narrow almost like a thumb, a little bit more, after operation," he said.

Removing most of the stomach also removes most of the hormone that triggers hunger.

"It turned out to be the best decision I've probably have ever made," Pierce said.

She had surgery in September of 2011 and almost immediately started losing weight. But even now, every day, she continues to pay attention to every bite knowing she will always fight her mental battle with food.

"I don't actually feel the physical hunger. I still want to eat. I want to have things like the cut up fruit that are ready to roll," Pierce said.

She is down 175 pounds and does not let herself forget what she has overcome because she never wants to go back.

Now 46 and in perfect health, Pierce feels like a different person.

"I feel better than I did when I was in my thirties," she said.

The best part? Her dad saw her transformation before he died.

"It was just such a wonderful thing that he got to see it happen before his eyes before he left," she said.

Right now, Pierce is in the process of having her excess skin surgically removed. That will take two surgeries.

If you would like to learn more about bariatric surgery, including the risks, types and whether it's an option for you, click here for more information on a seminar offered by Beaumont.

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