"We need to find better words, and be more loving toward people, especially when we know they are struggling."
Five years ago, Jacqueline Adan got a serious wake-up call after getting stuck in a turnstile at Disneyland because of her size. At the time, she weighed 510 pounds and knew something had to change. Today, she's completely turned her life around, losing 350 pounds and becoming an advocate for body positivity and self-love. (Related: Jacqueline Adan Wants You to Know That Losing Weight Won't Magically Make You Happy)
Along the way, the 30-year-old has dealt with her fair share of body-shaming from strangers. Some have even reached out to her recently, accusing her of gaining weight. "After [my last skin removal] surgery, I have been really swollen…like really swollen," Jacqueline shared in a recent blog post. "I have been receiving so many comments from people I did not know telling me how I was gaining weight, telling me to watch what I was eating and that hopefully, I can work out again soon because they could notice I was getting 'fat' again. This was hard for me to hear and read. I felt my clothes not fitting, I felt puffy and my whole body felt numb and cold. All of these things made me know something else was going on."
People will always have opinions about your body. Too fat, too thin, too tall, short...there is always going to be someone who is making comments or judgements. It can be easy to say, “they don’t know me or what I have been through”. But what happens when it is someone you know? Someone who knows what you have been through? Does it make it easier when someone you know puts your body down? - I went to see my primary doctor about the swelling that has been happening after my most recent skin removal surgery and she pretty much just told me I was probably just gaining weight. WHAT?!?!? . Her words hurt me a lot. I feel like no matter what is going on, it always come back to my weight. No matter what, the doctors wanted to blame it on my weight, just like when I was 500 pounds. if I had a sore throat the doctors would tell me it’s because I had to lose weight. Even now, after losing all of the weight, I feel like I am just the girl with weight problems and am being told all over again to just lose weight. How could someone who knows what I have been through, look me in the eyes and just tell me “you need to lose weight.” I left her office crying, but feeling stronger than ever that I was going to figure out exactly what was going on with my body because I knew that I did not need to just “lose weight.” . My weight loss journey taught me to love myself and never ever stop fighting. Some People just won’t understand, no matter who it is. . That’s why self-love and respecting yourself are so much more important than anything else you can do. Self-love is what is going to get you through those negative comments and help you keep moving forward no matter what. . Yes, mentally this was very hard for me to hear. But I am not going to quit. I am not going to stop fighting. I will never let the opinions or comments of others break me down and make me stop fighting! Fight for your health, fight for your mental health, fight for your happiness and most importantly never stop fighting to love yourself! To read more about this I have a whole blog post up now Jacquelineadan.com Link in bio
That's why Jacqueline decided to have some preliminary blood work done and pay her doctor a visit to make absolutely sure that there wasn't some underlying cause for her swelling. "She pretty much told me that, after looking at my labs, I was just gaining weight and that I should really watch what I am eating and exercise more," she wrote. "After leaving her office, I completely broke down. I think I cried for about an hour." (Did you know that the shame associated with obesity makes the health risk worse?)
Given the fact that Jacqueline has spent the past five years of her life dedicated to losing weight, it's easy to see how she could be frustrated with professionals who say even more weight loss is the only solution to her problems.
"It really hurt to have someone who knows me and knows all that I have been through with not only losing 350 pounds but how much I am working on loving myself, taking care of myself, and trying to live my best life possible," Jacqueline tells Shape. "It really made me feel like I was over 500 pounds again when doctors all tried to blame everything on my weight. I felt ashamed and embarrassed and started questioning myself and my own body again and not feeling like I was good enough. I thought...maybe I really am gaining weight. Mentally, I felt myself spiral backward. It was tough to hear that. All my hard work and commitment to bettering not only my physical health but mental health, and it felt like it all got washed away for a second when I was told that I just need to lose more weight." (Related: Why Body-Shaming Is Such a Big Problem and What You Can Do to Stop It)
Jacqueline admits that had the situation been handled differently, she wouldn't have felt that way. "I would have preferred her to tell me that it is going to be okay and we will figure out why my body is so swollen," she says. "I would have wished she empathized with me and saw just how nervous and frustrated I really was with the changes happening with my body. Even if she thought I really was gaining weight, I feel like it would have been so much better to say it in a more compassionate way." (Related: I Was Fat-Shamed By My Doctor and Now I'm Hesitant to Go Back)
Sometimes things happen in life. Things do not go the way we want them to go and we feel completely stuck and trapped and spiraling down hill...fast. Once things in life seem to be going wrong, we can often times begin to think that everything is just bad and we start believing this is just the way things will be. We think negatively about ourselves and the situation we are in and feel like there is nothing we can do to crawl out of the hole we are in. I know what that feels like. I know what it is like to feel like you don’t have control of your life anymore and what if feels like to fall down so hard and not think you will ever be able to stand back up. A few years ago I found myself weighing over 500 pounds. I thought that there was nothing I could do to change it. I hated myself, my body and could not find the sunshine even, if it was sunny outside. Then one day it clicked. If I cannot find the sunshine I must be the sunshine and from that day forward my life changed forever. Now over 350 pounds lighter and I have not only physically changed but mentally changed as well. Sometimes it is all about the way we think about handle the situations we find ourselves in that make all the difference in the world. We cannot always control what happens to us, but we always have the power as to how we will deal with it. New blog post up now- talking about energy drainers and how getting rid of them will help you change your outlook and lead to your success. Jacquelineadan.com Link in my bio
While Jacqueline could have given up after the horrible experience at the doctor's office, she instead decided to use the experience as a reminder to practice self-love.
"I think with this whole situation of being swollen and hearing not only others but my doctor still putting me down and shaming my body and telling me to lose weight, is a good reminder of why it is so important to remember to focus on yourself and love yourself," she wrote. "When you deal with people like this, because there are unfortunately people like this out there, you need to be strong enough to take their opinions and criticisms." (Related: Sarah Potenza's Personal Essay On Self-Love Is Important)
Disneyland. The happiest place on earth. My favorite place on earth. Yes, Disney runs deep in my veins. But Disney also taught me to always believe in fairytales and happily ever after. My “moment” happened inside Disneyland when I got stuck going through a turnstile to get onto a ride. I was beyond mortified. I laughed It off but went into the bathroom and cried my eyes out. How did I get here. How did I let myself get to this point. At that moment I knew I did not have the power to change the past, but i did have the power to change my future. That is the moment when my world completely changed. I realized I too can have my happily ever after. That I can too believe in myself and all of my dreams. That I too can learn from my mistakes and let that only help me grow. Learn from your mistakes and learn from your past. I learned that you are never too old to rewrite your story and have your own happily ever after. You just always have to believe! “If you can dream it, you can do it.” -Walt Disney . . . . . #motivation #beforeandafter #beforeandafterweightloss #disney #disneyland #believeinyourself #happilyeverafter #disneymagic #disneyfashion #shareyourears
Jacqueline says she wishes that both social media users and health care professionals would think twice before saying things that could cause a struggling person to backtrack on their progress or feel ashamed.
"Talking about someone's weight is a very sensitive topic, no matter if it is talking about someone who needs to lose weight or even gain weight," she says. "I feel doctors especially need to be more understanding of how their words really can affect someone."
And back on her blog, Jacqueline wrote "whether it be obesity, body image issues, or people not loving and caring for themselves they are still people and still need love and respect and maybe a little help. We need to find better words, and be more loving toward people, especially when we know they are struggling." (Related: Katie Willcox Wants You to Know That You're So Much More Than What You See In the Mirror)
No matter where you are on your fitness journey or just life journey in general...just keep going. Keep moving forward. We all have struggles and challenges and hard times. We feel like giving up or that we are not good enough. But don’t let those reasons make you give up or stop working towards your goals. If you are doing the absolute very best you can then that is all you can ask for. Greatness does not come from staying inside our comfort zones. We must do what we feel is hard or scary or try something we have never done before if we want to see results. If we want to see progress. . For me, I can let being away from the gym for 2 months make me feel scared or weak or not want to go back because I may have taken a few steps back. Or I can tell myself “this may be hard, but I can do this- I WILL do this!”. Try something you are scared of. Do your best. At the end of the day...or even a few months from now, you will be so happy you made the change and gave it your best! . . . . . To shop this look and get all outfit details you can use the @liketoknow.it app or head over to the shop my looks page on my blog.I always do my best to find similar plus size options and link those on my outfit posts as well. http://liketk.it/2vrpH #liketkit . . . . #LTKfit #LTKcurves #fitnessjourney #movenourishbelieve #healthgoals #healthjourney #weightlossjourney #progressnotperfection #nevergiveup
For those who've been in similar situations, Jacqueline says to remember to stay positive and to treat yourself with kindness and respect. "Everybody has moments of self-doubt and times that they struggle with their self-image," she says. "When you keep practicing self-love and positive self-talk, the easier it is to bounce back from these moments of struggle. I will not stop fighting for my overall health and happiness and I know I will figure out what is going on with my body. So, never stop fighting, never stop doing what is best for you. It is the most important thing you can do."