At 5 feet and 9 inches tall, Kaylee Bonnett, now 24, once weighed 481 pounds.
"Kids and adults [would] say awful things to me in public and give me dirty looks like I was a circus animal," she says — which was one reason why she stopped leaving her house alone. "I was constantly on the defense."
Bonnett had been overweight for as long as she could remember: In high school, she weighed 300 pounds. She was made fun of and had fewer friends than her peers.
"Day to day, life was a constant struggle," she says. "From worrying about if I'll fit in this chair or if the chair will hold me, to trying to look nice and hoping that getting from point A to B doesn't make me sweat my hair and makeup off, I was constantly on the defense."
By the time she reached her mid-20s, Bonnett was pre-diabetic with high blood pressure. Her doctors had already warned her that she'd suffer a heart attack or stroke if she didn't do something about her weight.
"I didn't want to die," Bonnett says, but she knew she needed to make some changes to prevent that: "You don't get to go through life being 481 pounds," she explains.
So she decided to get gastric bypass surgery. Before the procedure, though, her surgeon gave her some homework: She'd have to lose 30 to 40 pounds. Determined to succeed, Bonnett drastically cut back on calories, followed a high-protein, low-carb diet, and began walking every single day. By the time she walked into surgery in October 2016, she'd already lost nearly 77 pounds in less than five months.
After the two weeks of pain that followed her procedure — "It felt like tugging on my stomach, and it was hard to walk," she says — Bonnett made some more major changes to her lifestyle: She cut out high-fat foods and now eats only natural sugars, capping her daily intake at 800 calories because she can literally only stomach small amounts of food. She also goes to CrossFit at least three times a week.
Already down 169 pounds from her highest weight, she's loving her new figure — even though, at 312 pounds, she knows she still has a way to go to reach her goal weight of 225 pounds.
Looking at the photos above, it's pretty clear that Bonnett's weight loss has affected the appearance of her body. She never would have guessed, however, that her weight loss would also affect her face so drastically:
In the photo on the right, Bonnett's face is noticeably slimmer than it appears on the left. Her jawline is also more defined on the right, and you can't deny she's got an extra twinkle in her eye. Here's a more current shot with makeup:
"The reactions of others is what surprises me, and it helps me see the change," she says of the transformation.
And if you think she looks happier in the photo on the right, you're right on the money — and isn't that what matters most?
"The weight loss has truly changed my life," she says. "I'm actually living life, which I wasn't [doing] before."