Jessica Adkins went online one day looking for inspiration to lose weight. It wasn’t 5 or 10 pounds she was looking to lose, but much more than that. She began her journey at 285 pounds, meeting with a bariatric doctor and was determined to document her journey.
Jessica talked to PEOPLE, saying, “A weight loss journey is about more than just the weight coming off. It’s a big mental struggle as well. I feel if I only talked about the positive parts of this, I would be doing my viewers a disservice…the biggest compliment I get is when others tell me that watching my videos helped them be more prepared for things they have encountered.”
When Jessica began her efforts, nearly 300 pounds heavy, she was eating fast food multiple times a day, almost every day. This was one of the big things she changed in her daily habits. “They say alcoholics can tell you the very day of their last drink. I can tell you the last time I had a piece of bread: August 5, 2016,” she says. “I no longer eat bread, rice, or pasta of any kind.”
Jessica began working out regularly, doing both fitness classes and walking up to 5 miles each day.
In 2016, Jessica underwent vertical gastric sleeve surgery, as part of her efforts to get to a healthy weight. “It is not the easy way out,” she said about the surgery. “You had surgery on your stomach, not on your mind. You still might want the things you had before, so you really have to get willpower.”
Alongside the surgery went a multitude of changes, all of which she has detailed on her YouTube and Instagram accounts. “I searched weight loss hashtags, most specifically weight loss surgery hashtags, and I was so inspired,” said Jessica. She described not just being inspired by the stories but by the user comments as well. “Everyone was so positive and supportive and I knew this was a community I wanted to be a part of. I also wanted to be able to help others the way hashtags helped me,” she said.
After changing her lifestyle, having surgery and maintaining a keto diet, Jessica hit her goal weight of 150 pounds on her 30th birthday, in July of 2017! Says Jessica, “Having people you can talk to, people who will encourage you, means more than you realize,” she says. “Losing weight is hard — it helps to be able to talk to others going through the same stuff.”