RGV woman competing in first bodybuilding competition after losing nearly 180 pounds

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"I want to step on stage tomorrow for all the people who think they can’t do it."

Jessica Ellen White holding her transformation photograph at the Fitness Exchange gym Friday morning. [Photo: Gaby Moreno]

HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — With four years of intense dedication under her belt, a San Benito, Texas mother and full-time nurse is stepping out of her comfort zone and on to the competition stage for the first time after losing nearly 180 pounds.  

Jessica Ellen White holding her transformation photograph. [Photo: Gaby Moreno]

Only those who have been there for Jessica Ellen White’s, 32, drastic transformation throughout the last four years can easily comprehend the juxtaposed photographs of her that she now posts on social media to inspire others.  

With one side representing her before at 313 pounds and the other representing her present at 137 pounds, White is showing the world that even the most difficult transformation is possible.  

“I was told at a very young age that I would have a hard time having children. I was almost infertile just because of the fact that my body was where it was at,” explained White about the doctor’s visit that was the catalyst for her health and fitness journey.  

As newlyweds, White and her husband, Reagan White, had plans of starting a family, but her doctor’s prognosis shattered that dream. Back in March of 2017, at 313 pounds, not only would White not be able to carry a child, but she was also prediabetic, had a fatty liver and high cholesterol.  

White said her weight had accumulated after years of unrestricted eating and occasional drinking, coupled with Polycystic ovary syndrome. After graduating high school at around 215 pounds, White said the stress from nursing school and later working a full-time management position was the perfect recipe for packing on weight.  

Jessica Ellen White lifting weights at the Fitness Exchange gym, Friday morning. [Photo: Gaby Moreno]

“I had a little bit of a breakdown after that; I felt very discouraged. I felt like there was no hope,” said White.  

After refusing gastric bypass surgery suggested by her doctor, White confided in her co-worker, Jessica Longoria, and told her about her struggles. Longoria helped White take the first steps toward a fitness journey by helping her with a simple meal plan and accompanying her to the gym. 

“I could barely run two blocks when I started,” remembered White.  

Four years down the road, White can run five miles non-stop and is nearly 180 pounds lighter than when she first started, but those accomplishments did not come easy. After finding out she was pregnant in May of 2018, White had to put her journey on hold. 

White’s daughter was born at 24 weeks and spent four months in the neonatal intensive care unit. During this time and after a year of not working out, White went from 167 to 272 pounds.  

Despite the setback in her personal goals, White was grateful that her daughter was able to grow stronger; she was able to take her daughter home in February 2019.  

Knowing what was possible, White restarted her journey and dropped to 150 pounds by the time gyms shut down because of the pandemic. That was when she decided she wanted to inspire others through her journey. White frequently shares her before and after pictures on social media to inspire the people around her to power through the challenges.  

“Life is always going to throw obstacles; there’s never a perfect time to start. You just got to go do it,” she said. “You can do a [bodybuilding] show no matter how big you used to be.” 

Jessica Ellen White holding her bodybuilding transformation photograph. [Photo: Gaby Moreno]

White credits her husband, family, friends, and coaches for reaching this point. She said without their support, she likely would not have been able to make it.  

While stepping onto the bodybuilding stage is far out of the comfort zone of someone who had never owned a bikini beforehand, White said her motivation comes from wanting to inspire others to believe in themselves.  

“Even if it’s just one person. I want one person to be inspired or motivated because I step on that stage. That’s the goal I’m going for tomorrow. It’s not necessarily to win anything, winning is always nice, but I want to be able to step on that stage and show others that it can get done,” said White.  

White is no longer prediabetic and no longer has high cholesterol. She will be competing in the Figure Division at the National Physique Committee Ironhouse Classic in McAllen on September 11.   

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