I used to dread going to the gym... like, super dread it, to the point, I never went. 🤷🏻♀️ I started by just walking outside. The gym? Didn’t want to go, didn’t want to be seen, see other people, have them watch me flail on machines, or sweat like a monster (because, I do)... 😅 The weather got colder. I couldn’t walk outside anymore. Time to face my fears... 😬
Folks, I was worried for no reason. The other people in the gym do NOT care about me. Lol! That’s perfect! They’re there for their own reasons and some, just as fearful as I was. Now, I go, do my thing, & don’t think twice about it. (I even wear tank tops!! What?!) The gym was not in my comfort zone. Working out was not in my comfort zone.
But, yesterday when I hit that 4th mile... I was almost overcome with emotion, because I can not believe how far I’ve come. Daily cardio & weights? The place that wasn’t in my comfort zone was becoming like a second home to me. Somewhere, where I’ve discovered my strength & found myself again. A place I can always count on to be consistent and calming. A hobby that not only keeps me busy, but vastly betters my mind & body. Something truly great has emerged from stepping out of my comfort zone... this is just 1 example, the gym. (Vegetables aren’t in my comfort zone either, but that’s a whole other post!) 🙃
🔹Do something that pushes your boundaries & comfort zones! You’ll thank yourself for it, in the future! 🤩
Passion Meets Purpose... Anything's possible.
Self-worth & Love
I've spent periods of time loving my body and hating my body, thin or not. It had become a vicious cycle. Looking at my media research made me realize I'll never be "perfect" and that's okay. There is no "perfect". The only person I can compare myself to...is myself. Numbers are just numbers. Even at 175, I found myself in the mirror, looking back, focused on the imperfections of my body; my stomach, wondering how many more sit-ups I had to do, my loose skin, pondering if I could afford surgery to get it cut off, my deflated breasts, thinking I needed a lift.., shit, an entire body lift, my thighs, wondering how they were still so rotund, my upper arms, watching them jiggle. The feeling was euphoric every time I stood and the scale and the number dropped. Little did I know, everyone else was concerned with how thin I was getting, but to me, I was still technically over weight. (I still am.)
There’s a difference between feeling sexy and feeling beautiful. You can’t feel sexy without feeling beautiful and you can’t feel beautiful unless you love yourself. I wanted to feel beautiful on the inside and outside. I tried not to be bitter and angry, it wasn’t going to help anything. I embraced my qualities & forgave my flaws; I’m only human & this is who I am. It is what it is. I am me.
I began realizing what I’m worth and loving myself. I have a loving family and friends who adore me. I’m unique, intelligent, and talented – I deserved more than what the image in the mirror portrayed. The more I realized these things the happier I became. Of course, I don’t think my body is perfect, but I learned to appreciate it for what it does for me. It doesn’t just allow me to live by functioning; it allows me to really live by feeling & experiencing. My legs are strong and carry me through out my day, through Mexico! My heart is SO big and is not only my source of life, but enables me to love so strongly and feel so deeply. My arms allow me to comfort with hugs, regardless of their size. No matter how much crap I feed into my body,... it’s always there for me the next morning. It helps me experience life in all of my senses; smelling freshly cut grass or flowers and hearing the birds chirping and wind rushing through the trees. It can transport me through time with memories and emotions. It allows me to learn and grow. Our bodies are truly beautiful; inside and out. With out my body, I am nothing. I needed to love my body the way it loves me.
Third Times A Charm
I am now in a phase of loving myself and learning to be healthy, at the same time. I graduated with my Masters of Science in Media Influence & Law in December of 2016. I promptly left for Mexico the following month, January 2017. While exploring, I felt some of those familiar "less than" feelings, but also was learning that my health was of the upmost importance.
At 300+lbs, I realized something.. (coincidentally, as I climbed a mountainous hill in the 105° heat headed towards a beach full of thonged bronzed bodies)... I realized that my body was NOT cooperating with my wants, needs, nor daily itinerary. . All of the walking in the heat had worn me down (literally, chaffed everywhere, including my self esteem) & I was exhausted before we even got to where we were going, physically & mentally. Everything a chore, almost to the point of me not wanting to participate. Besides the daily challenge of completing physical tasks others weren’t even breaking a sweat over or worrying if I was too heavy for the 12 seat plane.. it was frustrating feeling like a massive presence, yet also, invisible; no clothes my size, treated as if I were “one of the guys” or like I wasn’t even there, feeling like I let myself go beyond repair with my daily life woes, toxic relationships, anxiety & depression, and feeling a little... well, hopeless. I wanted to change. If I wasn’t going to take care of me.. who would? If my body failed me, there’d be NO way I’d be traveling anywhere! (Or, accomplishing all of my other goals in life) I had to be healthier. I had to change. It was then, on a rooftop in Mexico, that I decided to show myself the love that I was seeking. Self care means more than just cardio, clean eating, staying hydrated, & moisturized. A very large part of this journey for myself is a mental one... It’s discovering your strength. It’s re-awaking your passions. It’s learning to love yourself. It's treating myself the way I deserved to be treated. It’s being you. Take care of you.
Today (188), I am happier than I have ever been. I have big plans and huge goals, but want to accomplish them while showing my body the love that it's shown me. I feel empowered... as a beautiful strong female who can hopefully be an example for others someday. I know I’m not perfect, but I also know that’s not what defines me. I've made myself a priority, not an option.
This time, I lost weight for me, for my health and future. I had a detailed plan that encourages frequent checkups and check-ins. I’ve also learned that talking about this issue to others helps tremendously, reaching out to online support groups and a handful of close friends. Their support and stories help me daily! I’ve recently started an IG about my journey (@MelissaMakesMoves). It is very therapeutic & I hope / believe it might bring comfort to those who have a similar story to mine. It's also a way to keep me on track and helps me stay motivated through accountability. It allows me an opportunity to not only gather my own thoughts, but also find inspiring content for others, as well as, myself. I plan on launching publicly in 2018.
This journey has made me embrace myself and empowered me to carry on. Anything is possible! I mentioned previously that I didn’t like the word "fat". I still don’t, because it’s typically used in a cruel fashion, but it doesn’t define who I am anymore. I’ve taken away its power and it doesn’t give me that sick feeling anymore. My weight does not dictate who I am and what I can do.
I feel empowered as a female with the knowledge that I don’t need anyone’s approval other than my own.
I feel empowered as a person, knowing how strong I truly am. I am incredible. Our bodies are amazing.
Although, I am all of these things, empowered, strong, and intelligent, I still have weak moments. I have to remind myself that I’m still the same person no matter what weight. I am still desirable. I'm still lovable. I am not my body, but my body is a part of me. It needs to be nourished, just as much as the soul. I love me and that can’t be taken away. I am a priority, not an option.
Behavior, Treatment, & Acceptance
"Losing my way helped me find myself..."
I got down to 175 lbs with my methods of madness. I felt energized, but probably because of compliments and.. the supplements I was eagerly taking every morning. I still felt "fat", but was a world away from where I started. I was finally excited to go shopping and be out socializing. I enjoyed getting dressed up in clothes that I felt accentuated my new body and curves that I didn't feel like I had to hide. It was a feeling that I’d never experienced before. Now, at 175 lbs, it seemed like I got glowing reviews and attention from all; men, women, strangers, life long friends, peers, & employers. Things changed, I was treated differently.
Was this what it felt like to be "skinny"…to be normal....to be accepted?
Behavior & Treatment
It was almost to the point I didn’t feel like a person anymore. I was a product, being packaged and sold. Be tanner? Slim down my thighs? Get a boob lift? Cut weight until my abs show? When would it end? People weren’t interested in my story. They just wanted to know "hot weight loss tips" and to tell me how great I looked now (which, I truly appreciate) and how awful I looked before. They didn’t want to know what had happened in my life to bring me to where I was or all of the interesting stories and anecdotes I had to offer. They weren’t complimenting ME, as a person; it all circled around physicality- how I looked. Was this not what I wanted? Wasn't this what I had been craving so desperately for years? I was bitter. It went further than that.
Individuals from my life were now confessing their love for me; claiming I was the one that got away, although,... I had always been there. There, I had been, for years on the sideline as the best friend, yearning for those feelings to be reciprocated wondering why I was always overlooked... Or, the boyfriend who dumped me by saying "we're just too different" (but, actually had a size 2 waiting in the wings) was now convinced that he made a huge mistake and I’m the one he wants to marry and be the mother of his children. The initial sound of it was music to my ears, like a joyous tune I'd only been dreaming of... I was on cloud 9; then, it resonated; it was more hurtful than anything. They were only interested now that I was a slimmer version of myself. How could someone claim to love me, but I was invisible to them a few sizes larger? What would happen when I got old or, god forbid, if I gained weight again? I was mad. It didn't stop there.
Waitressing had even gotten easier for me, but, at this point, I didn’t want to interact with people anymore. I'd been getting better tips from customers, with out working any harder. I got better sections & shifts, which also increased tip intake. I went from making $18 in 3 hours to counting out $250 in small bills after a 10-hour shift. In 2011, I graduated from SIUe with a Bachelors in Advertising & Marketing and wasn’t long before I dove head first into the media industry. My boss claimed he “had a feeling about me” and “liked my look” - I was hired on the spot. Welcome to Advertising Sales.
Realization & Acceptance
Through out my life, my weight was always at the forefront of my mind. Even if I did let it fade for a brief moment, someone or something would readily remind me of it; whether it was not having a choral cummerbund big enough, not being able to get on a roller coaster with my friends, being called "two ton Tessie" by a family member, picked last for kickball, told “I didn’t need to make a meal of it” any time I ate, having to get a cheer uniform custom made in my size, or being told in a regretful tone “you could have been a model with that face, such a pretty face”, emphasis on could have been and face. I could go through endless examples, but they all boil down to the same bottom line... It’s almost like... I couldn’t be accepted for my body. I didn't accept myself. Everyone wanted me to change, including me, and always had something to say, even the mirror.
However, after awhile, it was less empowering and more infuriating. I dressed more conservatively than I did when I was heavier; I traded in push-up bras for the sports bras and actual push-ups. I didn’t need these individuals’ approval or comments to justify me feeling good about myself. I deserved more. In fact, what made them think they were entitled to give such an opinion or intimate request? What gave them the right to comment on my body, even - heavy or thin? How do they know my health or body goals? They don't.
Lowkey, I started to become a bitch; temperamental & emotional due to over usage of supplements with my anger and bitterness piled on top combined with the turmoil of my relationship at home. My family could tell I was different. Although, they were happy for my weight loss and being healthier, I wasn’t a fun person to be around. The littlest comment would set me off, lashing out in a tone or a crying fit, depending on the hour. My toxic relationship probably played heavily into this; I felt like I was bending over backwards, but never enough, constantly walking on eggshells trying to please, not feeling love. This wasn’t me... the "me" I knew was happy, loved life, had "friends". I missed her..
In order to start feeling like "me" again, I stopped taking all of the supplements. I wanted to be strong, not strung out. This mixed with my desk job made the weight start to creep back on. Soon, my seemingly brand new work clothes were too tight and found myself selecting more forgiving items. I spent the majority of the workday driving and had a lot of time to think. While thinking about my future I pondered questions like: Who am I? Why is my weight defining who I am? Are other people feeling like this? What’s the cause? It was time to learn to love myself and to realize that I’m still the same person no matter what weight I am.
Somehow, I still managed to woo clients and customers, but it’s possible they didn’t even notice my unraveling. They didn't know me from before and I was still encouraged to dress to the nines and to keep smiling. They accepted me at face value; wearing fitting pencil skirts and using the classic smile and nod technique, I raked in sale after sale, selling almost $85k worth of advertising space in one month. All while being known as “sweet Melissa”, how charming... I started to stress eat, slowly gaining what I had lost and then some. I bounced to another newspaper, unhappy and hoping for change somewhere. Things weren't any better at home and I was grasping for a way to enhance my life; upgrade it to the next level or something, anything. I decided to go back to school for my Master's Degree; Media Influence & Law; Thesis focus Social Media & it's effect on Body Image. This was my lightening strike, my Masters degree & thesis research changed me and my outlook on my body. However, somehow I had gained ALL of my hard lost weight back during my program and losing myself, tipping the scales at my highest weight of 315 lbs.... What, now?
"Chasing numbers, turning to any quick fix.."
After being heart broken and realizing I was two timed on with a size 2...
I started a “weight loss meal plan” & walked twice a day with my dog, Avery, to burn calories. Shake in the morning, another shake or a bar for lunch, and protein & vegetables or salad for dinner. But, I would cave & binge, stuffing my face with anything & everything I could find; oreos, chips, anything worthy of shoving in my face by the handful. The guilt & despair of these binges made me want to avoid food entirely, eating only out of necessity. I walked more; Avery loved the walks. The cycle would start again in my next weak moment. The weight came off, but it wasn’t fast enough, I thought. Although, the binging teetered the scale, I was down to 260 lbs.
At 240 lbs, I got a new boyfriend. He was my supervisor and also, skinny. (Trend?) I also, decided to get a new job as a waitress; hoping to be on my feet more, to be more active. I did not know what I was asking for! I soon found myself at 220 lbs, being on my feet, walking back and forth for sometimes up to 12 hours shifts. I was flying across that restaurant, slamming little cones of water in my face between tables; I was always SO thirsty. Some days were so busy, I forgot to eat; being around food all day and overhearing all the snarky comments about people there eating made me not want to eat. The restaurant industry was very superficial with many of the employees; managers even, making comments about patrons or even employee’s weight and looks. I had starting realizing that "pretty" girls got special treatment; better sections and in turn, better tips, big money. I had new found motivation ($) and stepped up my workouts. My relationship was rocky & very toxic, but I was still desperate to be loved even though I was told it multiple times a day. "Shouldn't that make you happy"? I thought I could make him happy if I just changed more... I started attending “boot camp” style fitness classes, tanning on a regular basis, & became more obsessed with my body & nit picking my imperfections than ever before.
I stopped drinking alcohol and started taking dietary aids in hopes that it’d help me have fewer weak moments. I’d do research on the Internet, searching for the "best ones" (most effective, fastest) then go find them at my local supplement store. Metabolism boosters, fat burners, carb blockers, energy boosters, skin supplements, vitamins, oils, and I wanted them all. I was willing to try anything and everything.. if there was a promise of making me thin.
How I felt and acted affected everyone around me. My boyfriend didn’t know how to make me happy, he was unhappy too; our relationship unstable, to say the least. My family was concerned for my well-being, but no one knew the underlying cause of my behavior or what was going on and I was too focused on losing weight and pleasing my mate to tell them the whole truth. As far as they knew, I was taking vitamins, eating healthy, working out daily, and normally, happy; the extent of supplements and dietary aids, lack of calories and nutrients, and my body’s reaction to this process and my relationship were only known to me.
I got down to 175 lbs with my methods of madness. I felt energized, but probably because of all the nice compliments and the supplements I was eagerly taking every morning. I felt like I was making progress. I still felt "fat", but was a world away from where I started. I was finally excited to go shopping and socializing. I enjoyed getting dressed up in clothes I felt accentuated my new body and curves that I didn't feel like I had to hide. It was a feeling that I’d never experienced before. I had previously dreaded going out, because of the process of finding something to wear that would not only fit my obese body, but also “look nice”. But now, at 175 lbs, I got glowing reviews on cheapo dresses and attention from all; men, women, strangers, life long friends, peers, & employers. Things changed, I was treated differently. Was this what it felt like to be "skinny"…to be normal....to be accepted?