I Got VSG Weight-Loss Surgery When No Diet Worked For Me. Now Im Prepping For A Bikini Competition

I’m Nicole Caperilla (@nicolelosing), a 31-year-old certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor based in Connecticut. After weighing in at 266 pounds, I decided to get weight-loss surgery. I committed to a healthy diet and started cardio and strength training. Two and a half years later? I’ve lost over 120 pounds and kept it off.

My weight fluctuated for years—but the ups and downs started in 2006 when I got pregnant in my late teens and put on about 80 pounds. As I got older, I gained more weight, and at just over five feet tall and over 250 pounds, I felt extremely uncomfortable in my body.

Keeping up with the simple things became exhausting. I was low on energy and frequently found myself out of breath. As a wife and mom to three daughters, I wanted to be there for my family and live my life the way I wanted to. For me, that meant being comfortable and healthy.

My weight-loss journey didn’t just stick one day, though. I was *always* trying to lose weight. I tried every diet plan and supplement out there—AdvoCare, WW, Atkins, Paleo, Hydroxycut, you name it—all without success.

My turning point came in the winter of 2016, when I stepped onto the scale and saw the number 266.

That was enough for me. When you feel like you’ve tried everything and your weight just won’t budge, it’s discouraging. After I heard one of my friends talking about weight-loss surgery, I started researching it and decided that it was the best and final decision for me to get the weight off—then keep it off.

On June 7, 2017, I had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG), a type of weight-loss surgery that shrinks the size of your stomach and, in turn, the amount of food that you can eat. While I understand this route isn’t for everyone, it’s a decision I made for myself—and I have no regrets.

Many people don’t realize that weight-loss surgery is just a tool—you have to put in the work. Sure, the weight will come off fast in the beginning because you’re eating much smaller portions than you're probably used to. But weight loss won't stick if you don't commit to making changes. That includes eating a healthy diet and moving your body.

Two weeks after my surgery, my surgeon cleared me to work out...and I haven’t stopped since.

For me, it’s not just what working out does for me physically—it’s also the mental clarity I gain from it. When I work out, I’m happy, and it sets my mood for the day.

While I worked out before my weight-loss surgery, I wasn’t as consistent as I am now because I didn’t have enough endurance or energy just yet. When I first started my fitness journey, I’d only do cardio workouts, but now I combine cardio with strength training, which I love. If you’re just getting started with working out, I highly recommend that you include weight lifting. Personally, I love transforming my body and looking and feeling strong.

After losing over 120 pounds, I’d fallen in love with fitness, so I became a certified personal trainer.

I currently work at Crowned Fit, a fitness studio in Groton, Connecticut, geared toward women. We offer HIIT, Strong by Zumba, and yoga classes. I teach the HIIT classes, which are a combination of cardio and strength training.

Currently, I’m prepping for my first bikini competition, and I’m so excited. I work out six days a week and eat a balanced diet that’s moderate to high in protein and low in fat, with lots of healthy carbs.

Here’s what I eat in a typical day:

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal or egg whites.
  • Lunch and dinner: Lean meats such as chicken, turkey, and fish, with sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, quinoa, leafy greens, and veggies.
  • Snacks: Almonds, apples, and berries.

Almost every morning, I wake up, take my vitamins with a big glass of water, get my kids ready for school, and then go work out. Every Sunday, I plan out what I’m going to eat for the week and cook all of my meals. It doesn’t take long (think: two hours max), and it keeps me on track. Of course, what works for me might not work for you. It’s important to find what suits *your* lifestyle—and take it one day at a time.

My advice: Keep a record of your weight-loss journey and find your community.

Whether you write out your story on paper or document your progress on an Instagram account like I did, keep track of your progress. It helps serve as a reminder of why you got started and where you’re going.

For me, taking before pictures and my measurements as well as joining groups on Facebook also helped. There’s a huge online community for weight loss and fitness, and it can be a great resource for support and accountability. I’ve now met some of my best friends on a free social media app—it’s amazing!

Most importantly, do this for you. It feels *so* incredibly good to be healthy. Losing weight is freaking hard. Most of us know this. But I promise you, the challenges of the journey are so worth it.


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