An obese nanny who was given just four years to live has lost 210 lbs (15 stone), become a model and run a staggering 30 marathons.
Michele Elbertson, from Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, weighed 427 lbs (29 stone) when she was warned by doctors that if she didn’t dramatically change her lifestyle then she would die before the age of 27.
At her biggest, 30-year-old Michele ate meals that could feed a family of four, broke her foot in three places because of her weight and was left struggling for breath after walking short distances.
It was during a doctor’s appointment in 2010 where she revealed her extreme fast-food diet and realised it was ‘life or death’ for her.
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Nanny Michele Elbertson (above), from Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, weighed 427lbs (29st)
The 30-year-old has managed to lose 210 lbs (15 stone) after a doctor warned her she had four years to live
Afterwards, Michele had a Lap-Brand fitted to restrict her food intake which combined with meal prep and exercise, helped her to lose 15 stone.
Now a slender 193 lbs (13 stone 12 lbs), Michele has finished 30 marathons and is training for her first bodybuilding competition this year.
Michele says: ‘I was very honest with my doctor. I told him that I ate fast food multiple times a day and could barely walk to the end of the block without getting winded.
‘He looked very serious and told me if I continued down the path I was on I wouldn’t live to see 27.
‘I knew I was very morbidly obese but that was the moment I realised I needed to do something, it wasn’t just people making fun of me anymore, it was life or death.
Michele (pictured on the day of her surgery) has had a Lap-Band fitted to limit her food intake
Michele (above after weight loss) ate meals that could feed a family of four and broke her foot in three places because of her weight
Michele (above at her heaviest) says she knew she was morbidly obese but it was the moment her doctor said it was ‘life or death’ that she decided to change her ways
‘At my heaviest, I was eating meals that could feed a family of four. I just had no filter to stop eating.
‘The Lap-Band gave me limits and taught me how to eat appropriate portions.’
Nanny Michele says she became ‘addicted’ to fitness and once she completed one goal would set herself an even higher one for herself.
Michele was overweight throughout her childhood, but believes bullying led to her food intake increasing drastically.
She added: ‘Even as a child I was always a bigger kid, I had bad genetics combined with a poor diet – I was a carbohydrate and fast food lover.
‘I would frequently visit McDonald’s, Burger King and was addicted to fizzy drinks.
Michele was overweight throughout her childhood, but believes bullying led to her food intake increasing drastically
Michele, pictured showing off her new slimline figure, says: ‘In school I remember being called the ‘fat girl’ and walking around the corridors people would moo and oink at me’
Michele said: ‘Even as I became older, adults would name-call, taunt and jeer. It made me very self-conscious, isolated and all of that made me eat more’
‘The bigger I became the more I was bullied and the more I was made fun of, the more I ate. It was a vicious cycle.
‘In school I remember being called the ‘fat girl’ and walking around the corridors people would moo and oink at me.
‘Even as I became older, adults would name-call, taunt and jeer. It made me very self-conscious, isolated and all of that made me eat more.’
At her heaviest, Michele had a body mass index of 63.1 putting her into the highest classified level of obesity – a healthy range is between 18.5 and 25.
Michele (pictured after a fun) says that at her heaviest, even simple tasks like going up the stairs would leave her winded
Michele’s diet before
Breakfast – bagel, donut and soda
Lunch – pasta macaroni and cheese, with crisps, ice cream and chocolate milk
Snacks – crisps, cookies and soda
Dinner – largest burger and fries with soda
Dessert – cookies and ice cream
Michele’s diet now
First meal – protein pancake
Second meal – 4oz of chicken and six asparagus spears
Third meal – 4oz shrimp, third of a cup of rice and a cup of broccoli
Fourth meal – protein shake mixed with spinach, almond milk and a banana
Firth meal – turkey burger with broccoli
Sixth meal – protein shake with protein almond milk and spinach
Michele added: ‘At my heaviest, even simple daily tasks like going up the stairs would leave me winded, I’d need to catch my breath.
‘I remember walking from class to campus and my body was so heavy that the weight was breaking the bones in my feet. I had to wear flip flops all the time.
‘I broke my foot in three different places because of the weight on my feet. They were taking a pounding.’
Michele decided to have a Lap-Band fitted seven years ago but, after losing 20lbs within her first month, her weight plateaued.
Michele (pictured now) decided to have a Lap-Band fitted seven years ago but, after losing 20lbs within her first month, her weight plateaued
To increase her weight loss she started exercising, beginning with walking longer distances and progressively getting into running
Michele (pictured at the gym) has now completed 50 half marathons, 30 full marathons, two 50 mile and one 100 mile run
To increase her weight loss she started exercising, beginning with walking longer distances and progressively getting into running.
Michele explained: ‘I needed to start exercising to get my body moving and boost my metabolism.
‘Before I’d done everything I could to avoid exercising and now I had to, I started by walking around the block and kept pushing myself.
From there, she set herself a goal to be able to complete a 5km race in Disney World and got hooked on running.
Running was never something Michele enjoyed but after completing her first 5km, her competitive side kicked in
Pictured at Disney world, Michele needed to increase her weight loss by exercising and this ultimately led to her getting into running
Michele, pictured with a friend, says: ‘I needed to start exercising to get my body moving and boost my metabolism’
Now, she’s completed 50 half marathons, 30 full marathons, two 50 mile and one 100 mile run.
She added: ‘Running was something I never enjoyed. I dreaded it at school and would try to get out of it.’
After completing a 5km race, Michele says she became jealous of people running the half-marathon and her competitive side kicked in.
In 2013, she had an abdominoplasty to remove an ‘apron’ of skin from her stomach that made exercising uncomfortable and caused rashes and infections.
She is now going to enter her first figure competition that analyses muscle definition
In 2013, Michele had an abdominoplasty to remove an ‘apron’ of skin from her stomach that made exercising uncomfortable and caused rashes and infections
Due to her weight (above) Michele has spent a lot of time toning up her body and is going to compete in her first figure competition in August
Michele says: ‘I’m determined to become a figure competitor to show what I’ve achieved with my body when competing in a few months’ time’
Since then, Michele has been toning her body to compete in her first figure competition in August.
She said: ‘My life and mindset has changed completely. I’m happier and more confident. When I was overweight, I was shy and intimidated by people. Now I’m the polar opposite.
‘I’m determined to become a figure competitor to show what I’ve achieved with my body when competing in a few months’ time.
‘Some days I’m terrified of being in a bikini in front of hundreds of people, but I’m excited because I know I deserve and have worked hard for this.’