We are so excited to share our most recent Weight Watcher Success Story. Talk about an inspiration!
Melissa K demonstrates what is possible when you commit to making a change. She lost 235 pounds - more than half her bodyweight - in two years and has kept it off for more than a year.
All we can say is AMAZING 🙂
Tell us a little bit about your weight struggle:
At my heaviest weight I weighed in at 425 pounds. I was in my early 30's and already had extremely high blood pressure, was pre-diabetic, completely inactive, and morbidly obese. I was married to someone who accepted me the way I was, but was also more fearful of losing me to another man if I lost weight instead of being a supportive husband.
Growing up I was always the fat kid - bullied and made fun of - and struggled with my weight even as an adolescent and into my teenage years.
As an adult, I couldn't fit in booths in restaurants, had to wear a seat belt extender in my car to drive, couldn't fit in one airplane seat, never could fit in an airplane bathroom, and would get out of breath from simply walking.
I went on vacations to Hawaii and Mexico but couldn't enjoy myself at all. I was too heavy to do any activities and too out of shape to even try. I was depressed and concerned that I wouldn't live a long life. Doctors continually brought up my weight and pushed me to consider weight loss surgery. I was adamantly against it saying that when I was ready, I would lose the weight on my own.
I wasn't going to take the "easy" way out.
Food had become my comfort. I was an emotional eater and the sadder and more depressed I was, the more I would eat. I had strangers coming up to me in grocery stores saying I needed to lose weight or children saying to their mom and dad "Look at how fat she is!" Some people would even pull up next to me on the freeway making fat jokes or faces showing how heavy I was.
People would say, "If you just lost weight you could be so pretty." Or "You have such a pretty face" as if the rest of me was so terrible. I took everything so hard and cried so much out of anger at myself and others.
I never saw myself as that big. I was in complete denial about how much I had let myself go. I was depressed, constantly defensive of what people thought of me or how people were looking at me. I felt constantly scrutinized and judged even by people who I knew loved me. They were doing their best to not hurt and upset me but I couldn't see that. The guilt and anger I had at myself I was reflecting back on to them.
Looking back at my food habits now, I realize I had been out of control. I ate a ton of food throughout the day.
Most of my breakfast meals consisted of fast food - predominately the local McDonald's - where I would stop in for 2 breakfast sandwiches, sometimes also a breakfast burrito, and then hit up Starbucks for a Venti full-fat milk latte.
I had no concept of how many calories I was taking in for one meal, let alone an entire day.
Lunches were usually leftovers or going out to eat with a coworker. We would go to fast food or a local deli where I would get a sandwich on a roll, chips, a candy bar and sometimes a baked good.
Dinner would be heavy with absolutely no consideration of portion control. I really just had no idea, no education, no clue about food.
Fast food was the easiest escape, usually pretty cost effective, and no clean up. I never associated how terrible I felt after eating those foods with what I was actually eating.
I drank 3-5 soda's a day, rarely ever drank water and had bread with almost every dinner meal. I knew I was a big girl, but I had this motto that I was going to live how I wanted to live and do what I wanted to do. I didn't care about calories, cholesterol, carbs, fat, etc.
All I heard was people dieting and failing, so in my mind, why bother. I already knew my dreams of being a police officer would never come to fruition. I was too heavy and out of shape and what person who is over 400 lbs could ever lose that much weight?!!
I hated the idea of working out and could barely even walk a parking lot, let alone attempt anything more.
On 4/1/12 something finally clicked. A switch turned on and I knew it was time to make a change. I was tired of not fitting in a booth when I went out with friends and I was tired of having anxiety if I would break a chair at a restaurant or if the chair had arms, would I not fit?
I was tired of being tired and winded and using a handicap pass to park close to the grocery store so I didn't have to walk far.
I spent most of my 20's morbidly obese and miserable. I barely could find clothes that fit me and could only shop at Avenue and Lane Bryant where I was already pushing a size 30/32.
But after a few of my co-workers started a Weight Watchers group at my old job and started talking about their successes, I became intrigued.
Honestly, I was a very competitive person and thought if these people can do it, so can I. I didn't really believe it worked, what were points anyways?!?! But hearing them go on and on about it, made me think it was something to try.
So on 4/1/12, I made the silent commitment to myself, while sitting on my couch, to sign-up for weight watchers online and hold myself accountable.
The following day I went out and bought a scale that would go up to 450 lbs. I bought a food scale to measure portions, bought measuring cups and started scanning labels at the grocery store.
I told everyone at work I wasn't going to the meetings with them, I had to start slow. I gave up regular soda and switched to diet, limiting how many I drank. Everyone seemed so excited for me that I was completely committing myself to a new way of life.
I didn't want to call it a diet. I wanted it to be a change of life for me. I knew I had to go at this 100% and not take any shortcuts.
I started scanning all my bar codes at the store, started actually reading the labels and focusing on how much fat, carbs, protein, and fiber were in the food I was eating.
I switched to lean meats, ground turkey, lots of chicken and fish and filled up on fresh veggies and fruit. I completely gave up fast food and set goals for myself that once I lost 50 lbs, I would reward myself with a cheeseburger from In & Out.
Fast food was never going to be my "go-to" again. I cut back on what I would order at Starbucks, opting for the low-fat milk or fat-free milk and sugar-free syrup.
I started making my breakfast and lunch every day for work, and on Fridays would treat myself to a Subway sandwich for lunch. I brought healthy snacks to keep at work to satisfy cravings and always opted out of the cakes or sweets for birthdays at work.
People really began seeing a change with me from the get go.
My first week I lost 13.7 lbs!
I couldn't believe in such a short time period I lost that much weight. After that, I kept steadily along the guidelines of Weight Watchers.
When I went out to eat, I would research the menu before hand and see what the healthier options were.
I stayed pretty consistent losing 2-5 lbs a week at times and rarely ever had a set back. When you start at such a large weight, it's a lot easier to lose weight than you think it is.
After three months of eating right, I decided the next step in my journey was to join a local gym. I went in and signed up for Inshape, near my home at the time in Suisun, and met with a trainer for my one free visit. He showed me how to use the machines and gave me an idea of what I needed to do.
When I first joined, I couldn't even manage 5 minutes on the elliptical. It felt like my legs were going to fall off! I would slowly work my way up, from walking on the treadmill , to doing the elliptical for a few minutes, to riding the exercise bike and then doing a few light weight machines.
I went 3-4 times a week and the gym became my release. I LOVED working out. It gave me a sense of accomplishment and pride. I felt great when I left there all sweaty, red faced and stinky.
For the first time in my life I was doing something and ACCOMPLISHING something.
A few months later I had watched Zumba classes and was always too afraid to try one out. I talked to a few members and decided to give Zumba and this class called UJAM a try.
From the moment I did it, I knew this was what I needed. I could only last half the class the first few times (1 hr class), but I stuck with it and after a few weeks, I was getting the moves down and felt absolutely amazing.
The weight was dropping off.
UJAM is a hip hop version of Zumba that is so exhilarating, fast paced and high energy. It can look daunting from the outside, but once you get in the class, the energy takes over you and truly moves you. There is a sense of family in that class that I can't explain. I loved it and went 3 times a week, adding on 1-2 more times of cardio machines and weights.
By November of 2012 (8 months into my new life) I had lost 100 pounds! I was absolutely shocked, amazed, and so very proud of myself.
My initial goal was to weigh 250 pounds. If I could get there, I would be happy I thought!
At my one year mark, I had now lost 150 pounds, and by my 2 year mark was now at over 210 pounds lost.
Over this last year I have lost about 25 more pounds, hit somewhat of a plateau - watched the scale go up a bit - but still notice the difference in clothing and how it fits me now.
I focus on a lot of weights at the gym now and started dead-lifting a month ago. So far my max lift has been 235 pounds. I lifted the amount of weight I had lost!!
Although the number on the scale can be discouraging, what matters is for the first time ever I feel happier with myself.
I went from a size 30/32 to a size 10! I am active, tried snowboarding for the first time, love to hike, can kill an hour on the elliptical and can lift heavy amounts of weights. I impress myself daily with my ongoing success and motivation.
I still have 30 pounds I would like to lose in order to reach my next goal, but I know I will get there. 30 pounds is nothing when you’ve lost over 200!!!!!
The hardest part has been dealing with the amount of excess skin I have. I worked so hard to see muscles, to have a decent figure, and unfortunately it's hidden under layers of skin.
With the way insurance works, they consider the excess skin removal to be cosmetic and won't cover the cost of the surgery. It gets in my way of working out and I get rashes from the skin fold, but still insurance will not cover the procedures.
I will have to come up with $24,000.00 out of pocket in order to have the surgeries I need.
Still, I hold on to hope that one day I will be able to afford it!
Until then, I am happier, healthier and active and wouldn't trade that for anything. I finally have my life back!
What was your wake-up call or "A-ha moment" that caused you to sign-up with Weight Watchers?
A group of my old coworkers had started a Weight Watchers At Work program. I was constantly hearing about points, them losing weight, seeing the foods they were eating. I knew going to the meetings and being so open about my weight issues was not an option for me. So I went home and signed up to do Weight Watchers online. I was ready for a change, but had little hope this was actually going to work for me.
How have your eating habits changed since Weight Watchers? What did you eat before and what are you eating now?
Before I ate tons of fast food, huge portions of 3-4 servings, lots of soda, lots of oil and butter. Now I fill up with fruit and veggies. Eat whole grains, brown rice, wheat pasta, drink water and iced tea, eat lean meats, count my calories and gave up fast food. It's about portion control now and knowing my limits. If I crave pizza, I will have 1-2 slices instead of 5-7!
What is the difference in your fitness before Weight Watchers and now?
I was completely inactive before. I would get out of breath just walking in a parking lot. Now I can do anything at the gym, I go hiking and I like snowboarding. Nothing is out of my reach anymore!
What has been the biggest change/payoff for you so far?
I went from a size 30/32 and 5x to a size 10! I can shop wherever I want, I can feel beautiful in my clothes. I can go hiking and snowboarding with my boyfriend and for once feel like I can accomplish anything. The hardest part has been the excess skin from the massive amount of weight I lost. But still, I wouldn't change it for anything. I can finally live, play with our dogs, with my step-kids, and feel alive!
How much weight have you lost? How long did it take you to lose it?
I have lost 235 pounds naturally. It took a little over 2 years and I have maintained for a year. I still have another 20 pounds I would like to lose!
Any advice and/or words of wisdom you'd like to share?
Don't ever think you can't do it. I used to cry watching weight loss shows. The people on Biggest Loser were in the 200's and complaining about their weight. I was over 400! I was morbidly obese and inactive. But I had to make a change. It was so easy once I put my mind to it and never looked back. You can do it!
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