Losing weight can be a challenge, and it can be extremely difficult to get out of the cycle of unhealthy eating. For 21-year-old Jessica Beniquez, that was certainly the case. But by changing just two bad habits, she lost 145 pounds in just one year.
Beniquez, who lives in Spring Hill, Florida, always struggled with her weight. She knew she needed a change, but found it extremely difficult to make the first step. So, she tried to identify what was holding her back.
At her peak, Beniquez weighed 320 pounds. And the effects on her body were beginning to show. “I didn’t feel comfortable,” she later told People magazine in September 2017. “Getting out of bed was hard. I felt miserable. I knew I needed to lose weight because I had high blood pressure.”
Beniquez added that it took more than a year for her to do something about her high blood pressure. “I would tell myself I didn’t know what to do or how to do it,” she later confessed on Instagram.
But in February 2016 one of her indulgences struck a cord and Beniquez kick-started her weight loss program. She realized how her life had been taken over by two vices in particular: fast food and binge-watching Netflix shows. It was time to take action – and the young woman now knew exactly what she had to do.
“I ate fast food every day, and would pretty much only eat chicken nuggets, pasta and fries,” Beniquez told People. “I [lay] in bed watching series after series on Netflix. All I did was eat, go to work and watch my shows.” But it was her love for sitcoms that triggered her to make the vital changes.
“I was about to start a whole other series on Netflix, and I was like, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore,’” Beniquez continued. She wanted more from life and now knew exactly how to get it. It was then her transformational journey began – and it could not have had better results.
Beniquez started with simple yet effective changes to combat her bad habits. First, she began drinking Herbalife shakes and ditched the fast food. This decision proved to be life-changing and played a vital part in her new regime. “I honestly don’t think I’d be where I am right now. I got the shakes and never looked back,” she said in her People interview.
Beniquez then turned off Netflix and began walking instead. “The day after I ordered the shakes I was walking. I walked a mile and a half to two miles a night,” she added. It didn’t take long for her to develop the confidence to explore a more intense workout, and four weeks later she hit the gym. But it wasn’t easy.
Beniquez had been living a reclusive life. Now she faced another challenge – people at the gym. “I was nervous [about] what to do [there]. I didn’t want people to look at me. It’s embarrassing when you’re young and really big. Walking through a gym, you see a lot of fit people and I was super intimated by that,” she continued.
But brave Beniquez was determined to change and committed herself to working with a trainer for added support. She even did more exercise at home following workout videos that she found on YouTube. It didn’t take long for her body to respond to the physical activity, and an hour cardio a day quickly developed into an hour and a half.
Furthermore, her fast food habit was being rapidly dealt with too. From a self-confessed “picky eater” who never ate vegetables, Beniquez had adopted a much more healthy diet. “I opened my tastebuds up to new things,” she told the Daily Mail when asked about her reformed food choices. And by ditching the junk and measuring her food intake, she had managed to change for the better.
Beniquez dramatically cut her calorie intake to less than 1500 per day. She consumed two shakes and one healthy meal in the beginning. Allowing herself snacks such as raw vegetables or low fat cheese kept her energized throughout her workouts. Three months later she replaced one shake with another low fat meal before finally quitting the shakes completely in October 2016.
And it didn’t take long for people to notice big changes. Beniquez started getting comments in the gym on her progress and her confidence flourished. She decided to document her journey on social media with a view to helping others trying to lose weight. But it wasn’t easy to revisit her darker days.
Beniquez said she hated how she looked, but she found the courage in posting before-and-after pictures of herself on Instagram. She tagged them with an honest account of how she felt at her heaviest and why she took so long to lose the excess weight. “This stuff is not easy to post,” she wrote on the site. “It is definitely hard because a year and a half ago, I was that girl on the left.”
But Beniquez continued to document her weight loss program to inspire others. “I would always complain to myself how I didn’t like my body and I would always make excuses because I didn’t know how to start,” she wrote on Instagram. “But one day it all clicked and I got my butt up and finally did something about it. I made this Instagram and post this stuff to show and prove that anything is possible.”
Furthermore, Beniquez’s personal posts did hit home to readers and she quickly developed a strong fan base. Words of encouragement flooded in and Beniquez became an Instagram sensation. “Damn, you go girl! You look great, congratulations,” wrote one follower. While others were grateful to her for sharing her life and opened up about their own struggles with weight loss.
“I’m so glad I’ve found you! I’m on my journey too. Thank you, keep it up,” one reader posted. While others looked to her for help. But Beniquez has no big secret to share and has been honest when asked for advice. She told the Daily Mail that there is “no magic pill that’s going to make you skinny overnight.”
Moreover, Beniquez’s transformation left her with a lot of excess skin and in September 2018 she underwent a tummy tuck to remove it. Sharing the experience on Instagram, the inspirational young woman beamed down the camera at her final achievement. “I’m awake with a flat tummy!” she gushed. “I’m a little sore but it’s so worth it.”
Despite bravely going under the knife, Beniquez’s journey is by no means complete. She continued to document her progress after waiting patiently for the swelling in her tummy to go down. And she is now back exercising regularly – and inspiring others with her incredible journey.