By Scott Thompson
THIS WOMAN’S family told her she’d EXPLODE IF SHE ATE ANYMORE, leading her to lose HALF her body weight – but now they say she’s TOO SKINNY and have STOPPED SPEAKING TO HER.
Social media influencer Gessica Parisi-Rodriguez (25) from Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, knew she was struggling with her weight at just eight years old. Because she came from a Sicilian-American background, with many family run restaurants across Michigan, celebrations included an over-abundance of food.
So, Gessica was learning to eat in both good and difficult times. As she continued to grow, her family were very verbal about her appearance and told her she’d explode if the ate anymore, others told her they hoped she would find a man who would love her being obese.
Physically at the age of just 17 she was eating over 4,000 calories a day and was always out of breath when walking, she was at risk of serious health complications such as type 1 and type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and hypothyroidism; a bleak future for a young woman.
Gessica hated herself; dragging her 18st and UK size 20 body around everyday took its toll. She was desperate for guidance and looked to her faith to guide her where she had a life changing, spiritual experience that changed her life.
With the guidance of God, Gessica changed her outlook and started walking in increasing increments until she was walking one-to-two hours a day. She also started tracking her calories while cutting down on the unhealthy food she enjoyed.
Within just two years she naturally lost 7st 2lb and shaved a further 1st 8lb of fat through weight training and cardio at the gym. Having almost halved her own body weight she now weighs just 9st 4lb, wears a dress size eight and looks incredible.
“I’m from a Sicilian-American family who own quite a few restaurants and pizza places all over Michigan, so food was always a huge part of every gathering and celebration we had (which was often),” Gessica said.
“I was a really lonely kid; my mum re-married and had my sister when I was five, but I felt very excluded from my blended family and I unintentionally turned to food for comfort and solace. So, as you can see it didn’t matter if it was in celebration or in hard times, I would always eat.
“On a normal day I’d eat a double chocolate muffin and milk or orange juice for breakfast then a ham and cheese sub with crisps and juice at lunch and for dinner I’d have something like breaded pork steaks with mash potatoes, two or three bread rolls and a few cans of soda. Snacks spread out several times through the day consisted of things like bowls of pasta with sauce and parmesan, bread rolls, half bags of crisps, Nutella sandwiches and even more soda. I was eating up to 4,000 calories a day.
“My family would say things like ‘If you keep eating like that you’re going to explode’, ‘It’s too bad you’re so big, you have such a pretty face’ and ‘I hope you find a man that can love you looking like that’. My love life was non-existent – we will leave it at that.
“Simply walking was a struggle as I was always out of breath. I couldn’t take part in sports at school even though I always wanted to play football or volleyball, I just couldn’t muster up the courage being so fat. I also loved to swim, but never did it because I was too embarrassed to be seen in a swimsuit.
“I was at high risk of type 1 and 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, PCOS and hypothyroidism due to my obesity. I was also struggling to find clothes and shoes to wear. It was saddening that I couldn’t express myself through fashion because everything that fit were for older women.
“At seventeen years old, I was 18st and wearing a UK size 20 dress. I felt awful, in fact I hate to say it, but my physical appearance and overall perception of myself made me self-loathing. I truly thought I was a failure and that I wasn’t good enough in any way. Then something happened, something special. I had a life changing experience with Jesus who helped me to recognise, for the first time in my life, that I wasn’t living to my full potential. So, through mental and emotional strength and fortitude I found through God I started to make some changes to take care of my health.
“I now weigh 9st 4lb and fit a dress size 4. I did it all naturally. I started out by walking thirty-minutes-a-day and increased this until I was managing one or two hours a day. I was also tracking my food portions. I didn’t cut out the things I love, I just ate less of them. Doing these two things I lost 7st 2lb in two years, then I lost the rest by incorporating weight training and cardio at the gym.
“Now for breakfast I’ll have oatmeal with a tablespoon of peanut butter and coffee, for lunch two home-made beef or chicken enchiladas, dinner a turkey hamburger on low carb bread with home-made fries and snacks would be something like banana and peanut butter or a protein cookie or fruit such as pineapple or cherries.”
Gessica’s entire world has been turned upside down and she now loves herself and has a totally different, much healthier mindset. Although most people love her new look, she sometimes gets told she’s too thin by those same people who told her she was too fat.
“I believe some family have become uncomfortable with me finally looking good and healthy after years of being the ‘fat family member’ or ‘fat friend’,” Gessica said.
“They compare themselves to me and put my new body down and are mean about it. They try to discourage me from continuing my healthy lifestyle and in some cases, they have completely cut ties with me. I’m not oblivious to these behaviours but I allow it because it just shows peoples true colours and intentions.
“Sometimes you can’t win because people who said I was once too fat now say I’m too skinny and unhealthy, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
“The truth is I now love myself. After coming face to face with some ugly beliefs about myself and recognising who I really was I was set free.
“This journey has been the hardest thing I have ever done, but also the most rewarding. I now feel comfortable in my own skin, and the people who say I look amazing are the people who matter such as close friends or my husband.
“Weight loss doesn’t have to be complicated, although you wouldn’t think so with all the conflicting information out there.
“Start simple and from a positive place. If you know nothing else, just start walking and grab a little less food for each meal. You will learn more about exercise and nutrition along the way. Above all, remain positive and believe in yourself that you can do this.”
For inspiration you can follow Gessica’s story through her Instagram