A woman from Virginia transformed her life from the inside-out after having gastric bypass surgery and finding new motivation.
Arlington resident Taylor Ragano underwent surgery at the age of 23 and has been able to keep the weight off for seven years while she pursued higher education and an impressive modeling career. At her heaviest, she weighed 220 pounds but now she is around 94 pounds lighter.
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“I did try dieting and doing it on my own and I lost like 50 of it through Atkins and I gained the weight back,” Ragano told Fox News regarding why she sought out a bariatric procedure. “I was having health issues. I was pre-diabetic and had hypothyroidism. I also had muscle pain standing on my feet. I would have to get cortisone shots because it was so severe.”
Ragano not only felt uncomfortable in her skin, but she struggled with self-confidence after being placed in special education classes from preschool to senior year of high school. Bullying she endured during these years also made her feel unmotivated.
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“I almost dropped out just because I didn’t like school,” she explained. “After graduation, I gained about 100 when I was 21.”
It all turned around, however, after she had the surgery and shed the extra pounds that made her tire easily. Today, she has more energy and is pursuing a master’s degree in public administration at Virginia Tech while juggling two internships and a part-time modeling career while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.
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After earning her degree, Ragano plans to attend law school to become an advocate for people with disabilities. Currently, her internship at the U.S. House of Representatives has inspired her to set her sights on Capitol Hill as a future congresswoman who passes legislation to help people with special needs.
In the meantime, she is not giving up on her modeling career. She’s actively building up her portfolio and would like to be the “first high fashion model to have had weight loss surgery,” so she can inspire others to get healthy, too.
Although Ragano didn’t picture her life going the way that it has, she admits her gastric bypass surgery was the boost that she needed.
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“The key to my success in keeping the weight off, I stop eating before I feel full. When you actually get full [after the surgery], you get a horrible feeling that makes you nauseous,” Ragano shared. “I haven’t stretched out my stomach. So, I still eat very little. It’s all about portion control. I probably eat anywhere from 800 to 1,000 calories a day.”
Her weight fluctuates between five and 10 pounds, but she sometimes practices a keto diet and avoids sweets to get herself back on track. Exercising three times a week also helps, whether it be through swimming, strength training, running or another activity that keeps her active.
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Knowing what she does now, Ragano said she wouldn’t have been so critical of herself in the past.
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“I wish I could have been a best friend to my younger self because I know she needed it,” she shared. “If I could give myself advice back then, I would have said to have faith and hope and that hard work pays off… Like if you want something bad enough, you have to put in the time and the work to get it.”