How 323lb woman overcame an overbearing mother, a drug addict dad and three skinny sisters to lose half her body weight
20:29 GMT, 9 July 2012
A woman who last year weighed 323lbs, has lost nearly half her body weight thanks to ABC's Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition and her own incredible strength of character.
Ashley, 21, from Rancho Cucamonga, CA, shed a staggering 156lbs during the gruelling year-long regime, and in the process overcame obstacles perhaps even harder than her weight: a feisty Italian mother, three unsupportive sisters and absent, drug addict father.
The only obese member of the family, Ashley had repeatedly begged her mother and sisters to empty the home of fattening foods, but they continued to eat whatever they wanted and criticise her with their mouths full.
Stunning change: Ashley, a 21-year-old cosmetology student from Rancho Cucamonga, California, weighed 323lbs at the start of her yearlong transformation (left) and was the only member of her family to be obese
Looking at a family picture at the beginning of last night's moving episode, the cosmetology student recalled how her three sisters had sat on her in the photo because they said her bottom was so large.
'I felt like they were trying to hide me,' she explained candidly.
Speaking at the end of her astonishing
physical transformation, the pretty blonde admitted half laughing and
half sobbing: 'I was so ashamed to look in the mirror, now I can't stop
Recognising that she was a food addict, Ashley turned 20 praying that the ABC reality show would take her on as a contestant so she could transform her life.
Party: Ashley tucks into some pasta at her 20th birthday while one of her slender sisters does the same in the background
Carbo load: Despite begging her mother and sisters to help her by banishing tempting treats and unhealthy food from the house, this the the spread at her birthday party
'I'm so young and I have so many things that I want to do. I just need someone positive who really cares,' she sobbed last year.
Carrying a staggering 60% of body fat, Ashley broke down as her initial weigh-in on a freight scale revealed she weighed a hefty 323lbs.
'I'm ashamed,' she wept before trainer Chris Powell tasked her with an initial goal of losing 80lbs in the first 90 days.
But Ashley's struggle to shed the pounds was far weightier than just body fat.
by three naturally slender sisters and still living under her mother's
roof, Ashley's psychological issues ran deep. As Chris remarked: 'Her
issues are far beyond a love of food.'
Push! ABC's star trainer Chris yells at Ashley to keep going during the very first day of boot camp even despite her tears of frustration
A struggle: Insecure and frightened, Ashley's
biggest problem was that living under her mother's roof stopped her from being independent and doing things for herself and living healthily
When her mother discovered that her father was using drugs, she had taken a one-year-old Ashley and her older sister and left home, a choice that while made entirely for the benefit of the children, later proved emotionally scarring for Ashley.
Feeling abandoned by her father, and
constantly comparing herself to the other women in her family, Ashley's
self esteem levels had been dragging along rock bottom for years.
she would beg her mother and sisters to help her, their support was
unreliable and all too often Ashley and her family would return to their
old habits of arguing and pointing the finger at each other.
The driving force
behind her punishing workouts with Chris was one of pure anger at the
people around her and at herself for
not taking responsibility sooner.
Transformed! 242 days after the first punishing day at boot camp, Ashley shows of some impressive muscles even underneath the pounds of surplus flesh she now has
Just a pinch: The plastic surgeon examines Ashley to determine whether she is a candidate for skin removal surgery after nine months
What's under here The doctor lifts the extra skin and shows Ashley her belly button, hidden and chafed underneath her rolls before revealing she can have the surgery
After putting her on a 1,500
calorie, no sugar, low salt diet and training her for two to four hours a
day in the gym, Chris gave Ashley a huge incentive to achieve the first
phase goal: her own apartment.
'I'm not giving up,' she said even though her weight was slow to drop off in the initial phases. 'I'm here till the end.'
The minute Ashley moved out of her
mother's home, the determined contestant kick-started her journey to
success. Finally confronting her issues head on with the help of a
therapist and learning to drive, Ashely realised that being
independent and growing up was as important as losing weight.
But the highlight of the contestant's
epic journey of personal discovery took place at the top of a volcano
in Hawaii after a 15mile hike on her own.
Wow! After her skin removal surgery nine months into the challenge, Ashley can see her belly button for the first time in years
Determined: A newly confident woman, Ashley is a shadow of the shy, depressed girl she was
call it a walkabout in Australia,' explained Chris as he left her at
the base, six months into her challenge. 'This is your hike. It's a rite
'Chris has been that father figure in my life. I've never had that male figure in my life who will stay and fight for me. It means so much' she gushed before undergoing skin reduction surgery in the final phase of her challenge.
Weighing in at 167lbs by the end of the 365 days and looking ravishing on her 21st birthday in Las Vegas, the newly confident and outgoing Ashley said: 'I've never felt so healthy. I love myself now. I didn't love myself before.'
And because she feels so good, she has become a personal trainer so she can encourage others to live as healthily as she now does.