A Melbourne mum who stunned by losing 32.2kg in coronavirus lockdown has been forced to defend herself online.
Jessica Hood, a mum to four children and an influencer with nearly 55,000 Instagram followers, decided it was time for a change during the beginning of the pandemic, not only for her mental health but because her weight had “spun out of control”.
While she explained to Yahoo Lifestyle that nearing her goal weight and losing nearly 33kg “feels like a dream”, she hopes people will stop “labelling others by their appearance and dig a little deeper”.
“I never thought I'd have to defend myself for bettering my health but that's the world we live in. I just hope we can learn to celebrate people's wins, accomplishments and milestones,” Jessica said.
“People assume weight loss is superficial but truthfully, for me it is so much deeper than that. Yes it gave me the confidence to dress differently and take pride in my appearance but that's because I feel better on the inside.”
Jessica went on to explain that she was severely struggling with her mental and physical health before embarking on her fitness journey.
“I couldn't walk up a flight of stairs let alone get out of bed because the depression became so bad,” she said.
“I cried myself to sleep most nights. I didn't know how to live and function on a normal amount of food. I was overeating, what I thought made me happy. I didn't wanna leave the house or be seen in public, my anxiety had me staying in with the blinds closed afraid of the real world.”
While she shows her followers the ‘real her’ online, she said she was actually “very sad and wasn’t giving it her all”.
“She may be a little different but she's alive. She's finally living. She's finally happy,” Jessica said.
In August, Jessica told Yahoo Lifestyle that she had ditched her Coca Cola and Macca’s habit during lockdown and by that stage had dropped 22kg.
“I was drinking two litres of Coke a day, and relying on takeaways like McDonald's which I was having three to four times a week,” Jessica said.
She says her life revolved around food and it was how she coped with getting through the days.
Jessica has suffered from depression for years and during March, April and May, she says she was “ in the worst place mentally” so she decided to make a change.
“I decided to start making small changes. Starting with sugar drinks and donuts, cakes, chocolate,” Jessica said.
“It wasn't the fact I was eating those but those things were no longer treats the were things I lived off every single day.”
Jessica focused on calorie counting, reducing her portion size and eating a high protein, low carbohydrate diet.
She says the first few weeks were the hardest for her but after pushing through, she had lost 8kg by the end of June.
“The more weight I dropped the more energy I had. I knew this was my time to shine, to make myself a priority, to focus on my happiness,” she said.
“I took a negative and changed it to a positive and I discovered how strong I really was. I now think if I can do this I can do anything,” she said.
“Although covid has left a big mark on all our hearts, the thing that will stand out the most when i look back on 2020 will be my strength and determination.”
When it comes to her mental health, Jessica says she “feels like a brand new woman” and backs herself in “situations that I'd usually hold myself back in”.