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The 19-year-old is sharing her experience with skin-removal surgery after losing half her size

By Kaitlyn Smith
Updated August 18, 2015 11:30 AM
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Credit: Courtesy Kaitlyn Smith

Having once tipped the scales at more than 400 lbs., 19-year-old Kaitlyn Smith from Portland, Tennessee, lost 208 lbs. through diet and exercise. One thing she hasn’t been able to lose is the excess skin, a common side effect of extreme weight loss. As she gears up for, and then undergoes, several skin removal surgeries, Smith will be sharing her story at PEOPLE.com. Come back for updates on her inspirational journey. You can also check out Kaitlyn’s website and follow her on Facebook.

It’s almost time for round three: my last but biggest and hardest surgery! My whole lower body! Eeeeek! I will be having surgery on September 20 if all goes according to plan. My inner thighs will be cut and I will possibly have drainage tubes in my legs. I expect recovery to be rough and long.

I have so many crazy emotions. I’m anxious, nervous, ready, scared, and happy all at the same time. Never did I imagine I would have come this far!

While recovering from my second surgery I have been writing chapters of my book and working on a clothing line. But most importantly, I created an online weight-loss coaching group offering one-on-one training, accountability and motivation. I have 22 people in my August group and will be starting a new group in September. We talk daily about what’s going on or what people are feeling – it’s all about going through the same thing together. Everyone in my group lost a couple of pounds the first week! I love seeing people make a change to better themselves. It warms my heart to see them begin to find their self worth.

I’ve started thinking about the next phase of my life and have been researching how to become a certified personal trainer. I might even like to become a dietician after I am all healed.

I’m also getting ready to celebrate my birthday on August 24. Whaaaaat?!?!? At one point doctors said I wouldn’t live to see my 20s, and now here I am about to turn 20. Yes! I won’t be doing anything crazy – just looking forward to spending time with my family and boyfriend. I’ll probably plan a small outing for dinner with everyone before I leave for my surgery. Hitting 20 feels like a real milestone.

I can’t lie: This surgery stage of my journey has been hard. I’ve struggled mentally. I freaked out for a while because I couldn’t work out. I even feared food a little bit. But I told my coach and mom and we worked on it. Sometimes I still see the 414-lb. girl I use to be. Or the 208-lb. girl with skin hanging everywhere. I think I may always battle with that. But I’m trying to be better.

Overall, though, I enjoy every day! I feel amazing and am ready for stage three. I can’t wait to fully heal. I have so many things to do, so many people to meet, so much sharing to do. And I will have a new body to sculpt! I cannot wait to see myself a year from now.

This Woman Lost 208 Lbs. – Here’s What She’s Doing Next