Jessica Weber has struggled with her weight for almost as long as she can remember. As a kid, the Peru, Illinois, native munched mainly on carbs and starches. Many of her meals consisted of pasta and potatoes — and that took a serious toll on her body as well as her mental health.
"I definitely feel like I was treated differently," Weber told the Daily Mail. "I used to get made fun of growing up in school. I remember I stopped riding the school bus because this one girl would be so mean to me. I wasn't even at my heaviest weight then; it got better, but I still felt like people still judged me."
Weber's weight was an issue for her for much of her life, but it wasn't until she was 22 years old, eating two dinners a night, and weighing in at nearly 400 pounds that it really sunk in: Something needed to change.
In January 2016, Weber's doctors suggested she undergo gastric sleeve surgery, a procedure that was covered by her insurance, to make sure she didn't develop diabetes or sleep apnea in the future. The surgery reshaped Weber's stomach into a thin tube that forces her to eat fewer calories per meal, and it helped the now-23-year-old jumpstart her weight-loss journey.
But surgery wasn't the only measure Weber took to score her new, slimmer figure: In order to lose the weight she wanted and truly become healthy, Weber knew she had to transform her lifestyle, too. She's eliminated super-starchy meals and "liquid calories" (e.g., soda). Instead, she now focuses on filling her plate with lean protein and plenty of veggies. And it's working — Weber is officially down to 199 pounds — nearly half of her heaviest body weight.
Weber still has a little way to go before she'll reach her personal weight-loss goal. According to her Instagram bio, she wants to get down to 150 to 160 pounds before having a tummy tuck to remove the excess skin that's been left behind after her dramatic weight-loss transformation.
In the meantime, though, she's sharing her journey with her 18,000-plus Instagram followers and learning to love her healthy body the way it is now, excess skin and all.
"This is my reality! This is my life! When you lose 180 pounds, the skin doesn't just suck back up," she wrote in the caption of a recent Instagram post featuring her bare belly and folds of loose skin. "I have been learning to deal with it, even with wanting to lose a bit more weight and have surgery! This is my life until then and I will not hate my body anymore!"
You go, girl!
[h/t Daily Mail]