For plus-size model Rosie Mercado, tipping the scale at 410 lbs meant putting her own health on the line.
Mercado was boarding a plane when the airline staff rudely told her that she needed to purchase a second seat to fit. “They were really rude,” she told People magazine. “They announced it in front of everyone that I needed to buy an additional ticket. That was an ‘aha’ moment for me—either I choose to continue living this lifestyle or I make a wise decision and take responsibility for my life.”
Now Rosie Mercado has shed the pounds drastically. She started by dropping to 300 lbs after going through a grueling diet and exercise routine for over a year and a half.
Rosie Mercado: “I was told that I’d never get a campaign”
With her pretty face and delicate features, it was only a matter of time before Rosie Mercado got noticed by modeling agencies. She recalls getting phone calls from modeling agencies who got hold of her headshots. They later took the offer back when they found out about her actual size. Mercado even admits that her peak was at 410 lbs after going through a series of bad experiences.
“I hit rock bottom about eight years ago and started gaining a lot of weight,” she spoke to People. “My son was diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy, my marriage fell apart. Everything that could possibly happen happened.”
Mercado’s weight loss journey had been everything but easy. She gained weight almost as quick as she lost it. When she saw a documentary on gastric sleeve surgery, she decided then to undergo the same procedure. After finally completing her surgery, the challenges continued as she was told to take dessert, pasta, and even soda out of her daily diet.
“Anything that bloats just completely went away,” she said. “You start really educating yourself on eating healthy, eating lean and eating really small portions. You go out with friends and you order an appetizer and eat half of that, and you sit there waiting for everyone else. It psychologically plays with your mind.”
Rosie Mercado also admits that her decision was greatly influenced by her health, and in no way is she looking to be a size 6 or below. She also needed to endure the physical changes that her body went through during her dramatic weight loss and needed to get skin removal surgery to reconstruct where the skin sagged.
“It’s not an easy walk. Surgery is just a tool. It’s not guaranteed success. Success comes from the discipline—it forces you to wake up and pay attention to what you’re eating. It’s a lifestyle,” Mercado said.
Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle
The long and painful process has taught Rosie Mercado to value her health even more. She now weighs a healthy 240 lbs and currently wears a size 12/14. Her exercise routine includes attending boot camp classes and doing her scheduled runs, while her diet includes lean protein, vegetables, and fish.
Despite the overwhelming positivity from the people around her, Mercado admits that she constantly receives hate mail for her decisions.
“I’ve already gotten slammed for losing weight,” she said. “Everybody says, ‘You’re no longer plus size.’ If you compare size 12/14 to a size 36, I don’t look plus size, but I’m still plus size, I still have curves. At the end of the day, it’s your body and [you should do what] makes you feel better.”