Depressed, embarrassed and weighing over 160kg, 30-year-old Jacqui McCoy knew she had to lose weight. Today, she stands at a slim 67kg, but Jacqui’s is not your average weight loss story.
Battling food addiction and obesity for more than half her life, Jacqui, from West Palm Beach, Florida went on US TV series Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition.
At the first weigh-in, she tipped the scales at 161kg. It took her 365 days, but Jacqui eventually lost 58 percent of her body weight, the largest percentage ever to be lost on a reality TV show.
Throughout the series, she revealed the heartbreaking reasons behind her weight gain and weight loss.
At 14, Jacqui was raped at a party. This childhood trauma sent her weight spiraling out of control.
"I just couldn’t deal with it," she said. "I kind of used food to help me cope."
The trauma continued to affect Jacqui throughout her life and when she married her husband, Shawn, she realised her size might stop her from having children.
"I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome...because of my weight, we’re unable to have a child," she said.
Extreme Makeover trainer Chris Powell challenged Jacqui to a 90-day, 40kg weight loss program and it worked.
Although tired, drained, and emotionally exhausted, Jacqui soon realised her potential.
"Once I lost so much weight in the first 90 days, I started to recognise my own power and my own worth, and that I could do these incredible things," she said.
But it wasn't always easy. Jacqui said she had to overcome a lot of hurdles to get her head in the right place. She also underwent painful surgery to remove almost half a square metre of excess skin following her weight loss.
"I found the biggest hurdle to weight loss is not your body, but your brain," she told US TV channel ABC.
"It was when I changed my mind about who I am, what I am worth, and what I am capable of doing.
"Once I finally found my fight to lose the weight, I realised life is a fight."
Jacqui continues to work with Powell and his team to maintain her weight loss and credits him for her life-changing experience.
"I know that he met me in the darkest time in my life and he didn't have to love me and invest in me in the way that he did," she said.
"I am forever grateful and I love that he’s proud of me."
Jacqui's weight loss success earned her a lot of rewards on the show, including a trip to Ireland, but her personal gain was a lot more precious.
Although she is still unable to conceive naturally, she has learned that she is now a perfect candidate for IVF and will start treatment soon.
She has also changed jobs from an internet sales manager to a weight-loss coach and will be part of next season's Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition coaching team alongside Powell.
"I got this amazing gift and I want to share it with everyone I can," she said.
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