Jess Lost 145 Pounds, Went From a Size 22 to a 6, and Still Ate 6 Times a Day
"I struggled with my weight for 19 years of my life," 26-year-old Jessica Messina (@jessmakesgains on Instagram) told POPSUGAR. She said she had always been overweight, since she was about 5 years old, until she was 24. "I tried to lose weight so many times through the years, but nothing would work for me," she said. Find out how Jess was finally able to find weight-loss success and lose 145 pounds.
Jess's History With Food, Fitness, and Weight
Being overweight since she was 5 years old, Jess attempted many diets, but they would eventually end in a binge. She'd also try to be more active but didn't know how to work out at the time. She'd overwork herself by trying to commit to a seven-day-a-week workout schedule, and then blame herself when she wasn't able to keep up with the physical demands. "Little did I know, those drastic changes I tried to make would end up hurting me rather than helping me," Jess said. "I struggled with my weight for 19 years of my life."
Jess's Journey Begins
Jess started college in 2012, weighing 300 pounds at age 18. She said, "that's when I really knew I needed to change how my life was going." One big motivator that made Jess decide to lose weight was thinking about the future, especially her wedding day. "Whenever that day comes, I want to look my best," she said. "I don't want to feel self-conscious or worried about how I'm going to look in the pictures."
Also, Jess loves kids. She has always been supportive when friends or family members were pregnant, then once the baby is born, Jess said she spoils them. "The sad reality was at 300 pounds, my cycle was irregular. I had high blood pressure and probably many other underlying issues that went undiagnosed," Jess said. "One of my biggest fears was that I wouldn't be able to have kids if I stayed at that unhealthy weight, or I'd be high-risk and have a lot of complications."
Ready to make a change, Jess joined the gym at school and started losing some weight. From her first year in university to her fourth year, Jess lost a total of 70 pounds. "Losing weight in university was difficult," she said. "I was always around high-calorie food, so it was tough to maintain my weight loss, and I ended up gaining some of my weight back." Her weight plateaued for two years until 2018.
How Much Weight Jess Lost
Jess's starting weight was 300 pounds. She has lost a total of 145 pounds, almost half her body weight, and started by losing 70 pounds in college. Then, from 2018 to 2019, she switched up her exercise regimen after falling in love with bodybuilding and personal training and lost another 75 pounds.
Jess doesn't believe in fad diets and said her biggest successes came from learning how to eat in moderation. "I have never deprived myself or stopped myself from indulging in all foods. However, I was able to portion-control what I was eating, which allowed me to stay in a caloric deficit," Jess said. "It's all about lifestyle changes." Tracking macros and calories has also been important for Jess when it comes to weight loss or maintenance.
When she was losing weight, Jess was eating between 1,600 and 1,800 calories. "Currently, I am consuming 1,800 to 2,200 calories a day, depending on my activity level for that day. My main goal is to gain muscle at the moment," Jess said.
What Jess Eats in a Day
Jess's meals are very simple and easy. Here's an example of what she eats in a day:
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with veggies (one whole egg and two egg whites with vegetables cooked in) and a bagel with cream cheese (or toast)
Lunch: Oatmeal with protein powder and cashew milk (optional add-ins: banana)
Snack: Nuts or seeds and more fruit
Dinner: Skinless chicken breast (or any other type of protein such as steak, pork, or fish) with mixed vegetables and a salad
Snack: Rice cake with peanut butter or air-popped popcorn
At first, Jess only did cardio, but that only got her so far. "Once I hit a plateau, I knew I needed to do something different. I knew I needed to increase my intensity and that's when I got into bodybuilding," Jess said. She worked out five days a week in order to lose the weight. Since then, she has increased her workouts to six days a week and the occasional two-a-day workout (cardio in the morning, and resistance training in the evening).
How Jess Stays Motivated
Jess's motivation has to do with helping other people. She is now a personal trainer, and her goal is to train and inspire others and show them that weight loss and muscle gain is possible, that they are capable and worth it. Her own progress also motivates her. Becoming "someone who has lost 145 pounds and is working toward living the rest of her life as a healthy and fit individual is something I am very proud of," Jess said, and it drives her to stay on track.
Jess's Nonscale Victories
From the beginning of her journey to now, Jess has kept track of not only her weight but her inches lost. "I have lost a total of 93 inches off my entire body!" Jess said. "I have gone from a size 22 to a size six in jeans, a 2X to an XS in shirts, and a size 24 to a size two in dresses. I used to be on the last hole of my Fitbit band; it used to be very tight on me, and I am now on the first hole."
Jess said the biggest advice she has for people on their own weight-loss journey is to "educate yourself." She said to understand how the body works and what you need to do to achieve your goals. Also, take progress pictures throughout your journey, so you can look back and compare. "Oftentimes, the scale doesn't move, but our bodies have changed drastically, so use other methods to measure success," she said.
Sometimes, things happen and we get off track, but what's important is how we react. "We are all human, and no one is perfect, but just remember what you're fighting for," Jess said. "Maybe it's your kids, maybe it's to have kids, maybe you're competing in a show, or maybe it's to save your life. Only you can pick up the pieces, get back up, and keep on going!"
Jess said that you need to look at weight loss as a lifestyle change. "This journey is no joke!" she said. "I've spent countless hours in the gym, tracking macros, researching exercise tools, and finding new methods that work. I know what works and what doesn't because I've lived it personally."
Jess said to keep hitting the gym, keep meal prepping, keep getting stronger, and remind yourself what and who you're doing it for. All the little things add up! It takes a lot of mental effort to lose weight and build your physique, but the most important thing is to "believe in yourself and trust the journey!"