Columbus woman loses about 170 lbs in one year to survive

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A Columbus woman lost nearly 200 pounds in just one year to save her life. She received Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass weight loss surgery in September 2013 in El Paso, TX. Alizabeth Rodriguez, 24, says with hard work and the right diet, she was able to finally live and enjoy her life.

"I was told that if I didn't do anything about my weight, I wouldn't make it to 30," Rodriguez explained. "My doctor told me this when I was 22 years old and it scared me."

Rodriguez refused to do the surgery at first back in 2012. However, after losing her great aunt to obesity in 2013, Rodriguez knew she had to do something about the situation.

"My great aunt and I were the heaviest women in our family," Rodriguez said. "She had lot of health problems because of her weight, and no one to this day knows exactly what triggered her death. We don't know if she suffered or anything, but I promised her I would do something about my weight at her funeral. I promised her I wouldn't let my family go through this again."

The surgery cut off a portion of her stomach and it rerouted Rodriguez's intestines. It also restricts the amount of food she can take in.

"The surgery affects everyone differently," Rodriguez explained. "I can't feel hunger. I had to set an alarm so I can remind myself to eat something every three hours. I also don't eat rice, pasta and lot of carbs since they expand and hurt my stomach. But I gained so much from the surgery, and I wouldn't trade this positive change for anything else."

Rodriguez said many people believe gastric bypass surgery will fix all problems. However, she said the procedure was quite painful, and she had to exercise twice a day, six days a week, eat well and change her lifestyle to maintain this positive change.

"I was obese since I was a young girl," Rodriguez said. "People picked on me a lot and I had multiple health issues. I had heart problems, polycystic ovary syndrome and more."

Rodriguez had her first PCOS surgery when she was only 13 years old. She was also bullied in high school for her weight.

"I was pushed down the stairs when I attended Columbus High," Rodriguez recalled. "I transferred to Hardaway where I met my husband. We started dating when I was a junior in high school, and we got married when I was 19 and when Christian was 18."

The couple tried for five years to have a baby. The effort was fruitless, but the couple was blessed with pregnancy in May of 2014.

"My surgery played a huge role and increased my chance for pregnancy because I was getting healthy and losing weight," Rodriguez said. "I was pregnant in May. It was the first time I was able to have an ultrasound and see my baby and fall in love. I found out about my pregnancy when I was five weeks in. Then I miscarried in July."

Rodriguez said doctors weren't too sure with what caused the miscarriage. She said the baby's heart just stopped beating.

"The doctors later found another cyst on my ovary again and they think its PCOS just flaring itself up," Rodriguez said. "I know weight plays a role in that. I think I got too comfortable when I was pregnant. I was eating unhealthy food and what not. But now, I'm just working on getting healthier."

Doctors told Rodriguez she should get her weight to 150. Rodriguez weighted 363 pounds at her heaviest, but she lost about 170 pounds since her surgery in 2013. She currently weighs 194 pounds and Rodriguez is now trying to get to 170 pounds.

"I want to work on getting healthy and getting to my desired weight," Rodriguez said. "Then I will focus on having a child again. But I don't want to go through the pain of losing my child again. I want to make sure I'm healthy enough that I won't have to lose another baby."

Marco Gavin was the name Rodriguez and her husband had given her baby.

"The baby was still too young and we don't know if it was a girl or a boy," Rodriguez explained. "But everybody called it a boy and I believed it in my heart as well. So we named him Marco Gavin."

Rodriguez made a flag for her lost baby that she hangs in front of her front door.

It reads,

'My precious child,

Since we cannot grow together on this earth, I will live this life for us both; If for nothing else then to honor you.

May I always remember to speak love and show kindness to others.

This is my promise to you.'

Rodriguez said her life changed dramatically since losing weight.

"I'm living for the first time in my life," Rodriguez said. "I feel like I'm doing things and accomplishing things I never even dreamed of. I'm back in school, I found confidence and I feel better. I feel healthy. That's all I ever wanted was to be healthy. I climbed mountains, I'm doing obstacle courses. A year ago, I would've watched other people do all this on TV while I sit on my couch. Before the surgery, I was getting by day by day, but I wasn't living life. I was simply surviving. Now I enjoy life. I see that we are all worthy of love and happiness because this life is so short. Don't waste it. Change what you can now. Bad things happen to good people sometimes, but that doesn't mean you stop. You keep fighting. You keep going."

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