March 07, 2018 04:44 PM

After having weight loss surgery and discovering a love for exercise alongside her mother, one woman wants to discard the lingering reminder of her former 356-lb. self.

Stephanie Gerena, 27, grew up overweight, much like her mother, Darcy Elliott, 45.

“I remember eating fast food multiple times a day with zero physical activity,” Gerena says in this exclusive clip from the premiere of the third season of My 600-Lb. Life: Skin Tight. “My mom was heavy too, and I think that had a lot to do with creating my bad habits.”

Elliott explains that she was a single mother, and put all her focus on her kids until she was at a breaking point.

“I was a single mom, and I was really struggling,” Elliott says. “I totally threw myself into my children, and I didn’t want to worry about what i was feeding myself. At my heaviest, I weighed 296 lbs., and I decided I need to start putting my health first so I could see my children grow up. I had lap band surgery, and I lost 130 lbs. within two years.”

Her mom’s weight loss “inspired” Gerena to make a change of her own, but it had to wait.

“Life throws you curveballs,” Gerena says. “I got pregnant when I was 21 years old. Becoming a young, single mother was difficult, so I ate. I really started packing on the pounds. I was in a depression.”

Gerena was 22 years old, at least 356 lbs., and spiraling. But then her mom asked her to join her for a walk.

“I felt better about myself afterwards, so the next time she offered, I was game,” Gerena says. “We walked a lot.”

She managed to lose 70 lbs. on her own, and then went to her doctor for weight loss surgery. In total, Stephanie dropped 184 lbs., but now she’s left with excess skin on her arms and stomach.

“It’s easier for me to get up in the morning. I’m happy,” she says. “When I look at the mirror with my clothes on, I like where I’m at. But I am insecure about the way I look naked. The skin is a reminder of the way I used to live my life. I wasn’t a sad person when I look back, but when I think about it and I see this, I was sad.”

Gerena says that her “three-tier stomach” is her biggest problem area.

“Looking at it doesn’t make me feel good,” she said. “It doesn’t make me celebrate the work that I’ve done to get to this point.”

My 600-Lb. Life: Skin Tight premieres Wednesday at 10/9c on TLC.

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