Stephanie Seabrook wanted to memorialize her journey before cutting it away

By Julie Mazziotta
December 03, 2015 11:50 AM
Amber Politi

In September 2012, Stephanie Seabrook stood half naked, writing on her stomach with a permanent marker all the negative thoughts she’s had about her body during her 150-lb. weight loss journey. The next day, she was set to get skin-removal surgery, but she needed to memoralize how far she had come to get there.

“I really wanted to remember who I was before the surgery,” she said in an interview with PEOPLE. “I never really opened up to people about how the skin made me feel. But I wrote it on there and it helped me heal.”

It all started when, right after she graduated from high school, her parents announced they were getting a divorce, a total shock to Seabrook.

“I didn’t know how to cope with my emotions and how I felt, so I just ate and hid in my apartment,” she says. “I didn’t want to go out, I was depressed, and food was just a comfort.”

By age 22, the Portland, Oregon, native hit her heaviest weight of 340 lbs. She had just amicably ended a relationship with her then-boyfriend, and it finally hit her how much weight she had gained.

“When we broke up, I looked in the mirror, and was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what have I turned into?’ ” Seabrook says. “I stepped on the scale and it said 340 and I had a panic attack because I no longer had someone who would love me no matter what.”

She started by walking about four miles each day and cutting out fast food, and by the end of one week she had dropped 20 lbs. She kept it up – no more eating her usual meals of three burgers, large fries and a soda. After about six months, she was down 80 lbs.

From there, Seabrook got over her fear of the gym and lost another 50 lbs. by working with a trainer and eating clean meals of lean proteins and limiting her carbs, which she calls her “kryptonite.”

Feeling more confident after dropping 130 lbs., Seabrook started online dating.

“I would be very upfront about it and tell people in my profile that I lost this amount of weight, and that I workout a lot,” she recalls. “And the first question that the guy would always ask is ‘Do you have loose skin? That gross saggy skin?’ I always hated my stomach, but I just never thought people would be so against it.”

Seabrook had already been self-conscious about her excess skin, hiding in sweatshirts even in the hot summer months, but their comments pushed her over the edge. After seeing a friend who had skin removal surgery, Seabrook got a consultation.

“The surgeon asked me to bend over forward and let my stomach hang and I honestly didn’t know how to because I always sucked it in. At that point that my mother realized how bad it was making me feel and we booked the surgery right there.”

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The day before her surgery, Seabrook planned a photoshoot with her best friend as a keepsake, and her mom suggested writing on her stomach.

“She said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if you wrote all the negative feelings you have about your skin on your stomach?’ Because the ink was still going to be there the next day when I had surgery, and that will symbolize getting everything cut off with the skin. And I just loved it.”

“Everything on my skin about myself came from me, she just helped me write it. It was one of my favorite moments of my life, just her and I doing that.”

Now Seabrook has a huge following on Instagram from sharing her experience candidly.

“I get a lot of people commenting, thanking me for not sugar-coating it,” she says. “It’s nice because not only do I keep people motivated, but they do that for me. It’s definitely a mutual feeling and that’s probably the best part.”

“I want to show people that just because you’re overweight or obese, that doesn’t mean that you’re any less of a person. I just want to spread so more love an motivation and help as many people as I can.”

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