When Jacqueline Adan was 6 years old, her dad took her training wheels off her bike, gave her a gentle push and let go. But she panicked and crashed into the bushes. After that experience, she never rode a bike again. When others pedaled around the neighborhood, she looked on from the sidewalk. As she got older, she felt ashamed she couldn’t ride a bike, but her weight stopped her from ever learning.
“When I was 500 pounds, I knew I am never going to do it. The older I got, the more embarrassing it was that I didn’t know how to ride a bike,” Adan, 32, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, told TODAY.
After being unable to enjoy the rides at Disneyland when she weighed 510 pounds, Adan started a weight loss journey that resulted in her losing 350 pounds in four years, which she shared with TODAY. As she lost weight and began exercising more, she often thought about how she couldn’t ride a bike.
“I felt silly. I should be able to do it,” she said. “It was always something in the back of my mind, but I was too scared to do it.”
In 2018, her family took a trip to Key West and everyone wanted to do a bike tour. Her weight was no longer stopping her. It was her fear. She knew she had to try.
“I got on the bike and my dad was pushing the bike and running behind me. I wanted to say, ‘Don’t let go,’ but I felt silly and pushed past that,” she said.
When he let go of the bike this time, she didn't crash.
“It was a big movement to finally overcome it,” she said. “I still need a lot of practice.”
Riding a bike is just one of the many things Adan can do now that she lost weight. She has returned to Disneyland where she can ride any ride she wants and she can fly on a plane without a seat belt extender.
“I can jump … I can run a full lap around the gym now,” she said. “I go to baseball games and fit in the seats.”
Since losing weight, Adan has grappled with having loose skin that causes pain and sometimes stops her from being able to be as active as she wants. She's had five procedures so far to remove excess skin, including a procedure on her abdomen, an upper body lift and a revision and liposuction on her legs to remove some weight before her doctor removes the skin on her lower body. So far, her doctor has removed 30 pounds of skin. But this upcoming surgery might be the most significant.
“This is going to be the biggest amount of skin he removed,” she explained. “There is quite a bit of weight there.”
While Adan has been on a long journey, she believes she is a better person because of it.
“When I was overweight, I hid my true self and who I was. When I lost weight and figured out who I was and where I wanted to be, I had to put myself out of my comfort zone and try things I didn’t want to do,” she said. “I am a lot stronger — not just physically, but also mentally.”
What's more, she uses her "failures" to grow.
“Just because you are not able to do this right now doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try again. I don’t want to go back to the girl who fell off the bike and wouldn’t try it again,” Adan said.