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Published July 05, 2012, 11:30 PM

Dilworth woman cuts gluten, loses over 100 pounds

When Paula Pandey Chhetri’s brother offered to send her and her daughter anywhere in the world for her 13th birthday, she panicked. At about 360 pounds, Paula worried about being able to fit into an airplane seat and keep up with her daughter while sightseeing.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

When Paula Pandey Chhetri’s brother offered to send her and her daughter anywhere in the world for her 13th birthday, she panicked.

At about 360 pounds, Paula worried about being able to fit into an airplane seat and keep up with her daughter while sightseeing.

“Immediately, I didn’t want to go. What if something happens to me?” says the 32-year-old Dilworth mother of two.

At the time, she didn’t wear seat belts in the car because they didn’t fit. A 10-minute trip to Wal-Mart wore her out because of the excess weight she was carrying.

“It’s kind of like feeling like a senior in a young person’s body,” she says.

Now more than 100 pounds lighter and with much more energy, Paula and her daughter are planning a trip to Japan the second week of September.

Paula started losing weight in November 2010, but the first year was slow-going. She credits cutting out gluten for her speeded-up progress.

Before she made the dietary change, she was getting sick a lot – colds, flus, bronchial infections, pneumonia – and suffering heart palpitations and nervous tics.

Celiac disease (gluten intolerance) runs in Paula’s family. On her mother’s side, her grandmother, aunts and cousins are celiacs.

The restriction has helped her stay on track, and she’s losing about 3 pounds a week. “It’s hard to cheat when you can’t eat gluten,” she says.

Paula gets her 1,200 calories a day primarily from fruits, vegetables and protein shakes made with whey protein and almond milk.

She says she feels satisfied on her mostly vegetarian diet. “Your stomach does shrink down. There’s no way I could eat how I used to eat.”

The way food tastes to her has also changed.

“I used to love steak. Now it doesn’t taste the same,” Paula says. “It’s kind of the same with pancakes, breads. They taste really yeasty and doughy, and they never used to.”

Paula started working out with a personal trainer at Anytime Fitness in January, and she recently completed her first 5K, which she walked with her brothers.

When asked what her highest weight was, Paula says, “Our scale only goes up to 355, and it still would error out, so I have absolutely no idea.”

Two months in, she secretly pulled out the scale, weighed in and registered at 340 pounds. “That told me it was working,” she says.

Her first goal weight is 200 pounds, then she has her sights set on 150-170 pounds.

Paula says people treat you differently when you’re thinner.

“When I was bigger, I was invisible,” she says, which made her antisocial.

Acquaintances went as far as to tell her, “You just need to stop eating.”

A couple months ago, Paula didn’t recognize herself.

“I got up at like 2 in the morning, and I flipped the light on, and I swear to God somebody was there and it wasn’t me,” she says.

Do you have a weight-loss story to tell? Email me at mholt@forumcomm.

com.

Forum reporter Meredith Holt has lost 105 pounds since May 2010. She will share stories of her weight-loss journey in her column, which runs the first and third Friday of each month in SheSays. Readers can reach her at (701) 241-5590.

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