Jessica Weber, better known on Instagram as @jessica_vsg44 has grown a following of more than 30,000 people with her inspiring story of dropping nearly 200 pounds. And while there are hundreds of fitness and health bloggers all over Instagram, Jessica sets herself apart because she keeps it real with her followers about the less glamorous side of extreme weight loss: the excess skin.

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Once weighing in at 383 pounds at her heaviest, the 24-year-old tells In Touch exclusively that she was faced with the decision of either dropping the weight or risking her life. “The specific moment to make me want to lose weight was when my mom started crying to me after learning how big I was,” the Illinois-native says. “She was afraid I was going to die before her.”

Jessica began her health and fitness journey back in January of 2016. And though she underwent weight loss surgery to aid in the process of shedding pounds, she assures fans that going under the knife is not the quick fix it may seem like.

“Many people think getting weight loss surgery is just an easy fix,” she explains. “They think it automatically makes you lose weight and that’s not true. People who get weight loss surgery have to work to lose weight still. It’s just a tool to help us out. I still have to eat healthy and in portions or I gain weight!”

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Though her honesty inspires thousands, of course, being a public figure on the Internet attracts trolls. But Jessica doesn’t let their attitudes get her down.

“I’ve struggled with staying motivated and getting discouraged! I just remember that I’m not where I want to be in life and that keeps me on track,” she says. “With putting myself out there on the Internet it does come with the Internet trolls and negativity! I just try to remember that I’m happy and that’s all that matters. If someone was truly happy with themselves they wouldn’t go on someone else’s page to post negative things to them!”

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Even though the health enthusiast tracks and maintains her eating habits, she makes sure to give herself a break every once in a while. “I give myself cheat items — not whole meals and definitely not whole days,” she explains to In Touch. “Even when I do cheat I still make sure I’m not going crazy and binging.”

Though she’s lost more than half of her weight already, Jessica has a firm goal set in mind. “My goal weight is 170 [pounds] and then I plan on getting skin surgery,” she says.

Until then, she’s continuing to post and inspire her followers with tips, tricks, and advice. She’s affirms that anyone can make their health and fitness goals happen, it just takes time and effort.

“My advice would be [to] plan out everything,” she says. “From your meals to your snacks to workouts: if you fail to plan, then plan to fail!”

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