She used to live with debilitating pain. Now everything is turning around.

By Samantha Lauriello
Updated January 14, 2019

Just three years ago, when Lexi Reed weighed 485 pounds, she made it her new year's resolution to finally lose weight. Fast forward to the present, and the 28-year-old from Indiana has lost an incredible 300 pounds. But as the weight came off, Reed began to face a new obstacle: loose skin.

It caused her debilitating pain, to the point where her arms would go numb from holding up the weight of all that extra skin, she previously told Health. But on Halloween of last year, she underwent a 9-hour procedure to have some of the loose skin removed. She was terrified, she said, but now she sees it as the best decision of her life.

During the first few weeks of her recovery, Reed was completely pain-free; a literal weight had been lifted from her shoulders. But when she started working out again (about seven weeks post-op), some of the pain returned, although it wasn't nearly as limiting as it was previously. In a new interview, Reed tells Health, "Before, it would basically disable me to where I would start crying."

She had seven pounds total of loose skin removed, but that wasn't all of it. "Rome wasn't built in a day," she says, explaining that she'll get another surgery to remove skin from her back, arms, and boobs. Her hope is that the pain will subside even more after the next surgery.

Though she knows the procedure will be worth it, getting more skin removed won't be easy for Reed. As a person who's built her lifestyle around staying active, she found recovery pretty challenging. "It was a mental battle because I wanted to be able to work out like I always do, but I couldn't do that. So I actually had to do things like read a book and watch a movie, which was at the same time rewarding, because I hadn't done those things in so long. It was bittersweet."

Getting back in the gym wasn't a piece of cake either. "I had lost some muscle, some endurance. I could tell I wasn't as fit as I was before." Reed pushed through her first few weeks back by repeating the same mantra she used throughout her weight-loss journey: It never gets easier, you get stronger.

She was right. She did get stronger, and working out became much easier than it was before the surgery. "It's crazy how much lighter I feel," she says. "I don't have to worry about always tucking in my stomach. When we do jumping jacks, my stomach isn't constantly moving, so I don't have pain from that. I feel like I'm flying across the room."

Another more unexpected result of surgery: Reed can see her belly button for the first time ever. She can also sit cross-legged, which she was never able to do before.

Needless to say, Reed is loving her life after surgery. She's currently working to get certified as a fitness instructor, and she also plans to write a book. Overall, she really just wants to help other people. That's why she's candidly documented her experience on her Instagram account, which now has over one million followers. "I just want to continue to help those million people," she says.

Reed always tells them to remember one main thing: "It's not about the weight that you loose, but the life that you gain."

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