Glow, girl! The Family Chantel star Winter Everett has taken fans along with her on her weight loss surgery journey as she documented every step on her family’s hit reality TV series. Winter was inspired to undergo weight loss surgery by Kayla La Vende, a.k.a. “The Weight Loss Barbie” on TikTok, and Kayla exclusively opens up to In Touch about how Winter is doing on her weight loss journey.
“Winter’s journey is going great. She’s glowing. Her confidence is just shining through,” Kayla exclusively tells In Touch in a video interview. “We do keep in touch a lot early on. She would email me and just ask, ‘Hey, is this right?’ Or, ‘the scale’s not moving this week.’ I would just tell her, ‘Just keep doing what you doing, just stay on track, make sure you’re drinking enough, getting enough protein and sleeping enough!’”
The TikToker continued, “And now I see her doing a lot of fitness and working out every day and I love it cause you know, I do the same and I try to hold people accountable and hold myself accountable as well. And so I see her doing that. So we kind of cheer each other on.”
As fans watched on season 4 of TLC’s The Family Chantel, Winter connected with Kayla, who works as a social media manager at Elias Ortiz & Company — a weight loss clinic in Tijuana, Mexico. Kayla has been open about her experience at EOC for her own weight loss surgery, and Winter decided to undergo a gastric sleeve procedure with Dr. Elias Ortiz after seeing Kayla’s results online.
“Going to Mexico, the prerequisites for the surgery are a lot smaller than here in America and it’s more cost effective,” Winter, 26, said in her confessional on the season 4 premiere. “My family, they’re very skeptical to the whole idea but I made this decision on my own and this is what I want to do, so I’m going to do it.”
Many viewers also had similar thoughts about Winter going to Mexico to undergo weight loss surgery, but Kayla shares some advice to those who may have reservations about going out of the United States for medical tourism. “My biggest advice would be do your research. Research your surgeon, if you’re looking at having bariatric surgery, definitely look up Elias Ortiz and Company,” she explains. “Tijuana is the bariatric capital of the world. EOC is the biggest company in Tijuana. Dr. Ortiz is also a bariatric professor. Do your research, numbers don’t lie, statistics don’t lie. So make sure you are definitely going with a surgeon who is experienced. But also don’t be skeptical. Don’t be scared because some of the world’s best surgeons are in other countries.”
One of Winter’s biggest fears about undergoing gastric sleeve surgery was that she was afraid that since so much of her identity is rooted in her being a fashionable, beautiful plus-size woman, she worried she would lose her identity as she started to shed the pounds. However, Kayla completely understood where Winter was coming from and was able to ease her mind.
“When Winter was concerned about losing her identity as this fabulous plus size girl, I could totally relate,” Kayla explains. “I told her, look, you know, all that is gonna stay the same. It’s gonna amplify, there may be some people you don’t inspire anymore and that’s OK because there’s gonna be a whole new world that you do inspire for all these people that wanna change, who want to get healthier.”
Kayla continues, “I feel like body positivity isn’t a certain size, body positivity is about loving your body, no matter what size, loving your body enough, if you wanna change to change. And that’s OK. I kind of just explained to her and I shared images of myself and I was like, ‘Hey, I still, I have the same clothes. I’ve altered them. I have tailored them down to fit me now.’ Like, my aesthetic has still stayed the same. And it’s just, it’s a lot easier now to shop, so my aesthetic has kind of amplified now that things are way more accessible for me.”
“So when I shared those pictures and my experiences with her, cause it is kind of tricky at first because you are in such a certain demographic and then you do change,” the social media personality adds. “And then, like I said, you’re not inspiring those people, so you kind of feel like, ‘Well, where do I belong now?’ And then a whole new world opens up of other people who you do inspire. I think after we had that chat, it made her feel a lot more confident with going ahead with it and realize that, ‘I don’t have to change, my body will change, but I’m still the same.’ You just become more disciplined, more structured and just more able to do things.”
After undergoing the procedure nearly one year ago, Winter has continued to document her weight loss journey on social media with fans. Her weight loss progress has been going so well that Kayla says the Georgia native is ready to take the next step in her weight transformation.
“Winter’s at the phase in her journey [that] she almost qualifies now for the next step, which is plastic surgery,” Kayla reveals. “I just had all my procedures done, like my tummy tuck and all that done with Dr. [Omar] Lazos at the end of last year. So she’s been, we’ve been talking about that and I’ve been, you know, running her through the process of how plastics work and got her in touch with Dr. Lazos. So hopefully, would love to have her back when she’s ready to finish the journey for her. But yeah, she’s doing great and I’m so proud of her.”