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Featured Friday – Jacqueline’s Journey

by Featured Friday | 1 year ago

My name is Jacqueline Adan, I am 30 years old, I am from California, and I have been overweight most of my life. I had a hard time with my body image and hated the way I looked from a very young age, and the more upset I got about it, the more I ate. I was also frustrated and mad at myself for allowing food to take over and causing me to be so overweight. It seemed like no matter what I did, I could never stick to any “diet” plan and would end up gaining the weight back, plus some, or I would just quit when it got too hard and would turn to food again. I was always different than everyone around me because I could never eat what my friends were eating because I was always “dieting” or worrying about food and my body, and I was tired of it! When I started college in 2005, I had had enough and just completely gave up and just wanted to live a “normal” college life, so I began eating like everyone else and not caring anymore.

At the end of 2011, just a few months before my 25th birthday, my boyfriend Kevin and my sister Jenny decided that we needed to take a trip to Disneyland—a place I have loved ever since I was born. It’s a place where I was immediately transformed into a princess as soon as I walked through those gates, a place of magic and fantasy, and a place where anything was possible and where dreams really did come true. I thought that maybe taking a trip to the “happiest place on earth” was just what I needed to boost my spirits, but when we got there, I had to rent a wheelchair because I could barely make it walking to the front gate. I was so embarrassed about how I physically could not walk and that my weight had become so bad that I needed a wheelchair to get around. I remember wheeling around Disneyland and feeling like everyone was staring at me, judging me, and looking at this fat girl on wheels who couldn’t even walk! I was ashamed! I told my sister and Kevin that I didn’t want to go on the rides, but really, I knew I just wouldn’t fit on them, and that killed me! I agreed to go on a few rides that I thought I would be able to fit on; however, I forgot about one little thing. As we approached the front of the line, I saw it…the turnstile. My sister went through, Kevin went through, and I…got stuck! I was mortified! Once I got out, I laughed it off, but at that moment, I had never felt so much guilt, shame, and embarrassment, and I couldn’t believe that I had allowed myself to get that big. I went to the bathroom and sat there and cried.

My weight held me back from living my life and becoming the person I wanted to be.  I became super shy and reserved and hid behind my weight and hoped and prayed that no one would talk to me or draw any sort of attention to me.  I did not like leaving my house anymore because I was afraid of being pointed at and laughed at.  No matter where I went, I would hear whispers, jokes, laughs and people commenting on my weight and that killed me.  I was ashamed and embarrassed.

I am and have always been a HUGE girly girl and I love all things fashion and beauty.  At my heaviest, I was not able to shop in any stores and had to order my clothes online and hope that the largest sizes would fit me.  I couldn’t necessarily order what I wanted but had to settle for the biggest sizes and pray that they would fit when they arrived.  I am also a huge sports fan and love the San Francisco Giants and Golden State Warriors.  Going to games was one of my favorite things to do, especially with Kevin.  It got to a point where we were not able to go to games anymore because I could not walk around or even fit in the seats.  I was unable to travel to go on any family vacations because I could not fit on an airplane and it was hard just getting out of bed.  Life was hard.  I was unhappy and I hated myself.  I wanted to change.  I needed to change.  But I felt like I dug myself down so deep that there was no way I was able to ever get myself out of this mess that I had created. The worst part?  My weight was not only affecting myself and my life but the lives of those around me.  I saw how much they were concerned and how much they were worried.  Not being able to travel or attend games or live my life to my greatest potential not only killed me, but was killing them too.  That hurt so bad.  I felt trapped inside a body and living a life that was not my own.

In February 2012, a few days after my 25th birthday, I remember waking up one morning and deciding I needed to change—I wanted to change.  I did not like the life I was living.   I wanted to take the control back and I was ready to start figuring out who I was and who I wanted to be.

I had not weighed myself in a long time because I felt like if I saw the number on the scale, it would make it real.  I became so good at lying to myself and pretending that there was not a problem.  I think if I saw the number on the scale it would become real to me.  I would have to deal with it.  So as I prepared myself to step on the scale my mind was flooded with emotions, but nothing could prepare me for what I was about to see on that scale. I looked down.  The number read 510 pounds. I broke down and started crying. How did I allow this to happen!  How did I allow myself to get over 500 pounds? After I calmed down, I wiped my eyes, dusted myself off, and said, “Ok, I can do this!” and I set a goal for myself to lose more than 300 pounds! I wanted to at least get into the 100s. I felt determined, ready, overwhelmed, and scared! I am the kind of person that if I really set my mind to something, I am going to do it. Nothing was going to stop me this time. With the tremendous help and support of my family, my friends, and the unconditional love of my boyfriend Kevin, within the first year, I lost 100 pounds!

In May of 2013, I reached my first “big” milestone…I was halfway to my goal weight. Another thing that happened that year was my first trip back to Disneyland in August with Kevin, Jenny, and my cousins. I was a little nervous to go back, but it was my little cousins’ first trip, and I wasn’t going to miss it for the world! I still had to get a wheelchair to help with the walking, and I was really nervous to go on the rides. But no matter how much I doubted myself and thought that I was too big to fit, my cousins took my hand, and we got in line. I was able to fit on all of the rides, and I didn’t get stuck in any turnstiles even though that was the most difficult thing for me mentally. I wasn’t going to allow my weight to stop me from living my life anymore.

At the end of 2013, we took another trip back to Disneyland, and my life changed in another big way. Kevin proposed to me in front of the Disneyland Castle on Christmas Eve! I had never felt so happy in my entire life! I really do believe that Disneyland is the place where “dreams really do come true,” and this was a huge motivation to keep me going on this journey. Here I was down almost 200 pounds, more than halfway to my goal, and now engaged to the man who was always by my side, no matter my size. I was determined to get married in a non-plus size dress, and I told myself that no matter how long it takes, I will get married with the body I have worked so hard for, next to the man who was by my side through it all! It truly was a great end to a great year! I felt like a real princess!!

In the beginning of 2014, I began to struggle a little bit. The weight wasn’t coming off as fast, and I allowed that to really discourage me. I started looking at how far I still had to go instead of how far I had come. I really struggled with eating food and felt like I was “starving” myself and did not want to eat.  I literally had to force myself to eat.  This was a big challenge for me.  I was used to overeating, not the other way around.  It took a lot of patience, kindness, positive self-talk and support to get through this one. I started eating different foods and mentally had to tell myself that eating was not going to make me fat or cause me to gain weight. It took a little while, but I was finally able to get back on the right track and continue my transformation.

In January of 2015, I started really exercising regularly.  Before I was doing at home aerobic videos and going on a lot of walks with Kevin.  But I felt ready to challenge myself more and step outside of my comfort zone and try something new.  I decided to try a “boot camp” class and I was scared to join alone so Kevin joined with me.  I quickly began to love working out and loved seeing how much my body was changing and how much muscle definition I had.  I remember being super excited when I could see my collarbone for the first time!

By the summer of 2016, I had lost over 350 pounds!!!

After losing so much weight, I am left with a lot of loose skin which is causing me a lot of physical and mental pain. After a lot of thought, I  decided that it was in my best interest to have skin removal surgery!

In the summer of 2016 I began the first of many operations to have the excess skin removed.  I had a lower body lift with a “fleur de lis.”  In the winter of 2016 I had my second surgery which was an upper body lift and an arm lift.  In the summer of 2017 I had more skin removed from my back and my arms.  I am also getting ready to have another skin removal procedure done at the end of January 2018 and still have about 3 more surgeries that I will need to have done.

No matter how much loose skin I am left with, and no matter how much surgeries suck and are painful and very physically and mentally hard to recover from, I would not change one thing.  Having the loose skin is so much better than weighing over 500 pounds.  From the beginning of my journey, I have always done what was best for me, and I know this is the best thing for my overall health and well being.

Along my journey, I have not only lost weight but gained so much more.  I always say that losing weight is so much more than just losing weight.  It is about figuring out what got you there in the first place and how to overcome the challenge and obstacles in your life without turning to food.  It is about learning to take care of yourself and respecting yourself and most importantly learning to love yourself.  There is not a magic pill or a magic wand that you can wave and magically you lose weight and live a happy life, just like after you lose weight it won’t magically make you happy.  Happiness needs to come from within.  I learned that the hard way.  Just because someone tells you that you need to lose weight it does not mean that you will lose weight.  You have to be ready to make the changes.  You have to be ready to put in the work and you have to never ever stop believing in yourself.  The power makes the changes we want see in life are inside of us.  We just have to be brave enough to never stop fighting, never give up and always believe in ourselves.  Losing weight did not make me happy.  I had to learn along the way who I was and who I wanted to be.  I had to fight for my own happiness.  My journey is still far from over and I am still learning to love myself and take care of myself more and more each day.  Some days are harder than others and I still have days where I want to give up and think that I cant do it anymore.  Those are the days we must love ourselves the most.  Those are the days that make us stronger.  No matter what you are going through always remember to take it one day at a time. Never ever stop fighting for what you want and most importantly, always make sure to love yourself and to always believe in the magic.  My life has changed in so many more ways than I could have ever hoped for.  I am so excited for 2018.  To continue to live my life, the life I have worked so hard to achieve, to attend more Giants and Warriors games, to express myself through my love of beauty and fashion and most I am so ready to begin planning the fairytale wedding of my dreams.  Like Walt Disney always said “all our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them”.  The magic is inside all of us.  We just have to believe!

Follow more of Jacqueline’s Story at the links below:

Instagram – @jacquelineadan44
Twitter- jacadan44