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Permanent Impact : Jessica Clemmons Exclusive | back to top
Gastric Band Helped Me Fulfill Singing Dream | back to top
*Jessica Clemmons has just launched her debut album in the UK, four years after failing to make the grade on Simon Cowell’s American Idol. But achieving success in the music business wasn’t the only struggle the bubbly blonde singer from Texas, who divides her time between Houston and London, has had to contend with. This is Jessica’s Story.
A few months ago, I was watching TV, listening to presenter Fern Britton being criticized on a chat show because it had emerged that she’d lost weight after being fitted with a gastric band. The host made her sound like a horrible person, as if she’d been deceitful and cheated in some way. It was all I could do to stop myself calling the show and putting him straight.
I really felt sorry for Fern because I knew exactly what she was going through. Two years ago, I had a similar band fitted to help me lose weight after years of dieting without any success. I’ve had weight issues since I was a little girl. Throughout my teenage years, I tried every fad diet going, but my weight still increased and by the time I was 22, that was also my dress size.
I wouldn’t go anywhere near scales but when I saw a photograph with a group of friends I burst into tears when I saw how huge I was compared to them. I was ashamed of myself for letting things get so bad, and decided enough was enough and that I’d have to do something about it.
It was around the time I tried out for TV’s American Idol . I slept on the street with all the others waiting to audition, gradually making my way through the different elimination stages until I actually got to sing in front of the panel.
I’d been singing all my life, but I didn’t know whether I was good enough to make a career in music. I thought that there was no-one better qualified to tell me than Simon Cowell, but my nerves go the better of me on that day. I sang a Celine Dion song, but I was starstruck in front of Simon and fellow judge, Paula Abdul, and I didn’t do as well as I could.
They didn’t put me through to the next round, but Simon was really nice to me. He said that he could see I had talent and, once I’d conquered my nerves, I had a real chance of making it. I left the room with a big smile on my face. Interestingly, no-one mentioned my weight, despite the fact that I was probably the heaviest I’d ever been in my life
Lot of effort
But I knew that if I was going to fulfill my potential as a singer, having the right image would be a factor. I began to watch what I ate and started going to the gym, but the weight wasn’t coming off.
So, in February 2007, I decided to take the drastic step of having the gastric band fitted. The idea of the band is that you can’t eat as much, so people think it’s some sort of magic cure and the weight will just drop off. It doesn’t work that way, at least not for me. Since the operation, I’ve had to work just as hard on my nutrition and exercise programmes. I go to the gym everyday and exercise for an hour with a personal trainer and then for two hours on my own.
I also have a nutritionist, who makes sure I eat the right things. It’s still a lot of effort and that’s why I felt so angry about the treatment dished out to Fern. She would have been working hard, too. Since having the band fitted, my dress size has dropped to a 14. I?m never going to be Britney Spears, but I’ll be very happy if I can get myself into a 12 one day soon.
Before the op, I remember being taken shopping by a stylist and we simply couldn’t find anything to fit me. Now, I can shop anywhere and, when I saw the results of the photo shoot for my album, I couldn’t believe it was me.
While I don’t credit the gastric band entirely for my weight loss, I think it will prove a good tool in keeping the pounds off. I eat five small meals a day and have to limit myself to 2oz of protein per meal. I have to have the band adjusted periodically, too, especially when I fly, because it tends to swell on a plane, making it uncomfortable and impossible to eat at all.
And I’ve been doing lots of flying over the last few years, traveling back and forth between the UK and Houston as I’ve been working on my new album.I hope to do much more if it’s a success.
* As told to John Barrett
Permanent by Jessica Clemmons is out now on After Midnight Girl Records
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