After dropping 350 pounds, Jacqueline Adan felt nervous, yet excited to put on a bathing suit for her first vacation in Mexico.
“For a brief moment, I thought to myself, ‘I can’t do this. I can’t take this cover-up off,’” the 30-year-old told PEOPLE. “It took a lot for me to actually tell myself, ‘It’s OK, you are beautiful just the way you are.’”
When she worked up the courage to show off her body, a couple near her started pointing and laughing at the loose skin on her legs.
“I did not know if I was going to cry or put my cover-up back on and not go swimming. For a moment I froze,” Adan said. “I could not believe how someone could judge me and make fun of me. They had no idea who I was, what I had been through or what I was currently going through.”
Though she admits their comments bothered her, “I was not going to let people like that affect me anymore!” she told Instagram followers of the incident. “I am not going to let what other people think of me stop me from living my life.”
When we were on vacation in Mexico a few weeks ago, it was the first time I had worn a bathing suit in a long time, and it had been even longer since I wore a bathing suit without a cover up. I was nervous to take my cover up off and to walk into the pool or walk on the beach. I still felt like that same 500 pound girl...then it happened. A couple sitting by the pool started laughing and pointing at me and making fun of me as soon as I took my cover up off. So what did I do? I took a deep breath, smiled and walked into the pool. That was a huge moment for me. I had changed. I was not the same girl anymore. Yes I still have a lot of loose skin, I may still feel insecure at times, and yes I may still get made fun of. To be honest, yes it bothered me. But I was not going to let people like that affect me anymore! I am not going to let what other people think of me stop me from living my life. They do not know me. They do not know how I have worked my ass off to lose 350 pounds. They do not know how I am recovering from major surgeries. They have no right to sit and point and laugh at me. That's why I smiled. It does not matter what others say or if they try to doubt you or try to bring you down. What matters is how you react to it. How you feel about yourself. Loving yourself just the way you are is hard. Others might not like that. That's ok. I hope you love yourself. Love your body. I hope you keep doing you and just keep smiling! . . . . . #jacquelineadan #jacquelinesjourney #effyourbeautystandards #selfloveclub #selflove #lovemybody #lovemyshape #loveyourself #teamself #extremeweightloss #weightloss #weightlossjourney #weightlosstransformation #weightlossmotivation #beforeandafter #beforeandafterweightloss #wlstories #onaquest #bodybuildingcom #bodypositive #bodyconfidence #bodyposi #transformationfitnation #motivationmonday #mondaymotivation #fitfam #fitspo #bodytransformation #igtransformations #transformationjourney
So Aden smiled at her haters and jumped right into the water. “It does not matter what others say or if they try to doubt you or try to bring you down. What matters is how you react to it. How you feel about yourself,” she added.
Though she reacted with courage and confidence, the San Francisco native said the incident would’ve ended much differently if it had happened before her major weight loss. Being “embarrassed and ashamed” of her looks, she said she likely would’ve run back to her room to cry.
“I would have allowed their comments to affect my vacation and I probably would not have gone to the beach or pool again,” she told PEOPLE.
Instead, Aden spent nearly four years to transform her body from 510 pounds to her current 160 pounds through a healthy diet and exercise.
Hi! My name is Jacqueline! When I was at my heaviest I was over 500 pounds. It was hard to do anything and I definitely was not living the life I wanted. I was unhappy, felt stuck and did not love myself. Finally I decided enough was enough and I took control back of my life. As of today I have lost over 300 pounds. I am also in the process of having excess skin removal surgery. My journey was far from easy. It was filled with many ups and downs. It took hard work, sacrifice and never giving up, even if it was challenging. It took blood, lots of sweat and many tears. But I would not have changed a thing. It taught me to fight. It taught me to never give up. And most importantly it taught me to believe in myself! My journey is still far from over, and I still have a long way to go but I can honestly say I am doing so much better! Along my journey I did not only lose a lot of weight, but I gained my life back! There is no stopping me now! It's never too late to fly! . . . . #jacquelineadan #jacquelinesjourney #effyourbeautystandards #selflove #lovemybody #lovemyshape #weightloss #weightlossjourney #weightlosstransformation #weightlossmotivation #beforeandafter #beforeandafterweightloss #extremeweightloss #wlstories #onaquest #bodybuilding #bodytransformation #bodybuildingcom #poparmy #transformation #transformationfitnation #trainlikeabeastlooklikeabeauty #transformationtuesday #tuesdaytransformation #fit #fitspo #igweightloss #fattofit #naturalweightloss #fitfam
"...It took me around 2.5 years of just eating right before I was mentally ready to really start working out," Adan wrote on her Facebook page.
Because of the massive amount of weight Adan lost, she carries about 30 pounds of extra skin, which causes back and neck pain and tension headaches. In July 2016, she had her first surgery to remove that skin, and she has undergone three additional surgeries since to alleviate her pain and tighten the skin.
"I want people to know to never give up," Adan said. "No matter what your dreams or goals are you can achieve them. If you work hard and believe in yourself you can do it."