Twenty-year-old Morgan Bartley always struggled with her weight.
“I was chubby as a kid, but it didn’t become a huge problem until late middle school, early high school,” the Southern California native said.
As a teen, a series of health problems caused Bartley to go from overweight to obese. “When I was 12 years old, I had what’s called an ovarian torsion. That’s basically when the ovary twists on itself. My doctor decided to remove it entirely,” she said.
Two years later, Bartley had surgery to untwist her remaining ovary, which led to menopausal symptoms.
“I was trying to live life as a normal teenager, and I was having hot flashes on the way to class,” she said.
At the time, doctors told her she might never have kids.
“I’ve always wanted to have kids. … I fell even deeper into a depression and really started struggling with a binge-eating disorder.”
Between the ages of 16 and 17, Bartley gained more than 60 pounds.
“I was binge-eating multiple times a day. I would get enough food for three to five normal-size meals, and I would park my car in a deserted parking lot and stuff myself until I was sick,” she recalled.
Bartley was close to 300 pounds at her highest weight.
“I have always been a future-oriented person,” she said. “I remember one day having this overwhelming sense that none of this matters if I don’t take care of my weight first.”
‘Take my body back’
Bartley’s first step was starting a workout program. “It was time to take my body back. Take my life back,” she said.
Jami Klein worked as her personal trainer. “She was shy and a little uncomfortable when she first came in. She didn’t really enjoy fitness and had no idea where to start,” Klein said.
The trainer got Bartley working out for 30 minutes a day, three times a week, to start.
She soon lost enough weight to qualify for a vertical sleeve gastrectomy, which reduced the size of her stomach.