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SIMPLY JESSICA: Actress Jessica Marie Garcia talks about health issues

Jessica Marie Garcia had just started playing Willow on Disney Channel’s “Liv and Maddie” when she found out that she was pre-diabetic. Her first thought was what kind of message was she putting out to kids as a role model if she couldn’t take care of herself.

“I was determined to not let this become full-blown diabetes,” Garcia said. “I knew that I had to do something to change this.”

The Florida native decided that she would take control of her life.

She had always been an overweight person but never did anything about it, but this was different. She had to accept that she wasn’t invincible, even though type 2 diabetes runs in her family.

“I had to find the value in myself to change,” she said.

It was the advice of her mother and boyfriend that got Garcia to go to the doctor. She had not been to the doctor in a really long time.

“It has been almost two years since I found out that I was pre-diabetic,” she said. “It was as if the record stopped when he told me.”

Being diagnosed as pre-diabetic was a test for Garcia. She was the person in her family that always preached about how strong you have to be to survive in this world. Her slogan was “If you believe it then you can make it happen.” Now she had to live those words.

Garcia was determined to find the self-worth in herself in order to change. She knew somewhere deep inside her she was worth the struggle that she would have to embark on to lose the weight.

She has lost 75 pounds since being diagnosed as pre-diabetic.

How did Garcia begin the struggle to reverse being pre-diabetic?

It began with Garcia opening up the garbage can in her kitchen. She threw out everything that was bad for her, which was pretty much everything that was in her kitchen. She was drinking nine cans of diet soda a day. She would go days without drinking water.

She has a new lease on life with a new diet to match it.

“I realized that I was worth it,” she said. “I refused to become the person that would go into a dressing room and cry because nothing fit me. I felt for the longest time that I was not worth more than that.”

Garcia is quick to admit that she did it one step at a time.

She started learning about nutrition.

“It was not easy but I felt that I was worth having a future,” she said. “I learned about nutrition by teaching myself.”

Garcia did not know anything about nutrition. In fact, she did not care if she was eating fresh anything. She even had to learn to cook.

She followed online recipes. She no longer eats steaks.

Garcia eats turkey, chicken, fish, brown rice, wheat, fresh vegetables and fresh fruit. She also drinks plenty of water.

“My body feels different,” she added. “I did weight loss for health reasons. I didn’t lose weight because I wanted to fit the mold of what is perceived that an actress should be.”

Garcia is passionate that girls of color know that they can do this without having to fit into a mold. She looked up to primarily white actresses when she was growing up.

“I did not see me on television,” Garcia said. “I want girls of color and different sizes to know that they can do this. I lost weight so I can stay around not to be like everyone else.”

Garcia laughed then said,  “I’m Latino, but I can’t speak Spanish.”

Be yourself! I’m Simply Jessica JcAden. You can reach me at jess.gosnell@gmail.com.