Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Story

A few weeks ago, I mentioned being on my way to record a video testimonial for Medi Weight-Loss Clinics. I also promised to one day share my story with you!

Since today is our annual Spring Conference and I had to be at work by 6AM, I figured it was a good day to schedule this since I won't have time to do my normal Daily MelWear post.

This is going to be a photo heavy post! Just fair warning. :)

So, once upon a time there lived a girl who was kind of chunky in high school. {Considering that was before the age of digital photos, I don't really have any to share. Sorry about that. Man I feel old now.} Once in college, I started exercising and learned how to control my portions better, and eventually got down to a comfortable weight somewhere between the ages of 20-25. It kind of happened without me paying too much attention; I just exercised regularly, ate whatever I wanted but made sure it was within reason and when I was full, I stopped. If I didn't really feel like having more candy or another cookie, I didn't. One day I found myself wearing a size 5 pair of pants and it felt AWESOME. 
This was at my 25th birthday party.

Then when I was 26, I found out I was pregnant with my daughter! I was SO very excited. My husband and I had bought our first home several months prior, I was working in a new job with good friends and I felt like the time was right. 

15 weeks pregnant
And then...the relationship with those "good friends" took a turn for the worse. I ended up quitting my job when I was about 8 weeks pregnant. Here I was, an hour away from my family (I'm used to living 10 minutes from my parents), pregnant with my first child, no job, the mortgage was hanging over our heads, and a very, very important relationship with these friends was gone. I started to skip my workouts and began to eat whatever I wanted. I didn't really have any crazy cravings but started to REALLY like Peanut Butter Crunch cereal. For breakfast, lunch and dinner. Heh. 

I really thought when I first got pregnant that I would be one of those cute little pregnant chicks (um, see that photo of me when I was 15 weeks along? I started out so well...). With the way I was eating and not exercising though, I ended up gaining 50 pounds and was not at ALL cute by the time I was just about full term. 

By the time my daughter was born, I had a new/old job (that's a discussion for another day!) that I LOVED, the relationship with our "friends" was back on speaking terms (sort of) and when my doctor told me that I could go about my merry way again, I picked right back up into my exercise routine. I lost 20 pounds by the time she was 8 weeks old...and then promptly gained 10 of those pounds right back again.

I worked out every day before work. I tried to go back to eating my Lean Cuisines for lunch. I tried to watch what I was eating and avoid sweets and all that good stuff. NOTHING worked. I was SO frustrated! I would weigh myself every week and it never budged. If it went anywhere at all, it was UP. And no, I wasn't gaining muscle and losing fat because my clothes were either just as tight or getting tighter. 

This was about 18 months after giving birth, I think.

At a complete loss for what else to do, I ended up having a sleep study done because I knew that productive sleep can help to process the body's exercise effectively as well as regulate body weight, appetite, etc., and I felt like I wasn't sleeping well. But no, apparently there was nothing wrong with my sleep. So then I decided to have a complete physical done, blood work, the whole she-bang to make sure my thyroid was functioning, my vitamin levels were correct, etc. And THAT doctor said, "Well, apparently you're completely healthy and there's no medical reason for you to not lose weight. But hey, we're starting a new $1500 weight loss program, would you like more information?"

Um...no. But thanks.

And that, my friends, is when I saw it. IT. I followed a blog called Moms At Work which was written by moms at our local newspaper. They posted about a contest hosted by the paper called the Moms Get Fit Giveaway. The first leg of the contest was to submit your photo along with your story. Here's the photo that I submitted:

I think this was about two years after my daughter was born.
The second part of the contest was to get as many votes as possible! I don't think they displayed how many votes each person had, but I had so many friends rallying around me (Heather, Charisse, Leanna, Pat, to name a few), voting for me every day, Tweeting on my behalf, posting on Facebook about it, that I'm pretty sure I got a good amount of votes. The last portion of the contest was a final vote by a panel of judges. 

I remember getting an email from someone at the paper telling me that I was one of the three winners. Before I spoke with him on the phone, I honestly thought he was going to tell me that they'd made a mistake and contacted the wrong person. But NOPE! I WON!!! 

Here is everything I brought home after meeting the other two spectacular ladies who won: a Go Fit Ultimate Pro Gym, a Gaiam Total Body Balance Ball Kit (which, amusingly enough, comes with a resistance band for someone of "medium" height...which according to the box is 5'6" - 5'11".  I don't think I would even be as tall as the smallest height.), a Natural Fitness Balance Disc, a $500 gift card to the Reebok outlet, a certificate for a mani/pedi (to have done right away), facial and massage (redeemable about a month into our journey), and haircut/style/highlights/make-up lesson (redeemable towards the end of the journey) at Aveda Gary Lambert Salon and Spa, a certificate for 20 free personal training sessions with Taylor's Fitness Club, and a certificate for a three-month program with Medi-Weightloss Clinics.


At my very first session with James, the trainer, I honestly thought I might die. I thought he was trying to kill me. However, by the end of my 20 sessions I realized that weight-lifting = GOOD and I really began to love certain things about myself (like my biceps!). James was a constant source of motivation and encouragement, not just for me but for the other two women who won the contest as well. He was fantastic and I wish I could afford to continue training with him, but as a single mom it's just not in the budget. 

Now with Medi...oh, I was terrified of Medi. I had a feeling it was going to involve shots like Transformations. And...yes, yes it does. Two of them, twice weekly in fact! I will say that they didn't really hurt all that much and I got to the point where I wasn't fazed by them at all. This is coming from someone who almost didn't want to get pregnant in the first place because I'm so afraid of needles and I knew I'd be poked and prodded during pregnancy and labor! I'm still not a huge fan of them, hate blood work, but the injections at Medi don't bother me at all.

The Medi meal plan was tough. The very first week, when you are trying to kick your body into ketosis, consists of 500 calories per day, ALL from protein. 

I'm a VEGETARIAN. You want me to eat WHAT?

I tried, oh how I tried, to eat some egg whites and some chicken breast. I couldn't handle it. I kept 'em down, but I couldn't do it again. That week was really rough but I discovered that I do like the Morningstar Farms products (the fake chicken ones...I still can't eat the fake beef/hamburger products, they look and taste too real and I don't like 'em), I do like certain brands of veggie hot dogs. Because I'm a vegetarian, they told me that I could have two protein shakes a day instead of just one, which helped. For my first shake, I would mix it with brewed coffee instead of water, that way I could still have my morning coffee without messing with creamer AND I was having my protein shake too. During my 30 minute lunch, I'd walk on the treadmill at work and then drink a second shake at my desk. 

After that first week, I was allowed to begin incorporating low carb yogurt, string cheese, cottage cheese, a cup of veggies and some fruits into my diet. Thankfully the yogurt, string cheese and cottage cheese were considered proteins so I could count them towards my 500 calories! That left me with just a cup of veggies and a cup of fruit per day outside of my 500 protein calories. 

Appetite suppressants were my friends. Yes they were.

So, let's recap: Medi had me on a 500 protein calorie diet (with LOTS of supplements and vitamins and weekly visits with an MD to check everything and make sure I was healthy, so don't panic), plus I was walking during my lunch break 4 days per week, plus I was lifting weights with a trainer twice a week. 

Finally, FINALLY, the weight was coming off!!! 

Oh, and the bad part? This started RIGHT before Halloween. So this 500 calorie diet thing where I had to make SURE I stayed in ketosis the whole time (and trust me, having one little hershey kiss could kick you right out of ketosis for DAYS, it's not worth it) went from Halloween (oh, the candy I missed), through Thanksgiving (no pumpkin pie for me!) AND through Christmas and New Year's! 

Did I mention I was a little angry at times? I may not have been the most pleasant person to be around. I dunno, ask my ex-husband. He was around me pretty often. But hey, we're still friends so I guess I wasn't too bad. :) 

I reached my goal weight in February of 2010, so I've kept it off all on my own for about a year now. I still struggle sometimes, I still would like to lose more of my "mommy tummy", I'd like to drop another dress size or two (or three...) but I'm COMFORTABLE with where I am right now. I'm healthy. I exercise 5 days a week, I watch my portions, I allow myself to splurge (probably more than I should) and I'm hopefully a better example for my daughter. 

A few months ago, someone from Medi emailed me to ask for a short little bio of my history with Medi that they may want to use in future promotional material. A little while after that, another email came in asking if I'd be interested in shooting a testimonial video. I'm so incredibly grateful to the staff at Medi for helping me get where I am today so of course I jumped at the chance to help with any kind of promotion. 

Here are some pictures from our day (my mom took some of these, she and my daughter came with me because the shoot happened to be in the same city where my brother and his family live, so we met my sister-in-law and nephew for lunch before my appointment).
Airbrushing the make-up on
My daughter saw her putting blush on and announced that she could put blush on me too. The girl let her do it and said she actually did a pretty good job! That's my girl!

For some reason, she wanted to add some curl to my hair. It looked nice and actually stayed in pretty well!

The outfit they chose for me to wear, I think because the color looked good on camera. It was my LEAST favorite of the ones I'd brought. Apparently it shrunk in the wash and was too tight and too short and I was so severely uncomfortable in it the entire time!

Checking the microphone.

And that's my story! You've seen all of my recent "after" shots (heh) so I don't really need to add any of those to this post. 

I just want everyone, whether you've had children or not, to know that I understand what it's like to struggle with weight. I know what it feels like to want to hide behind everyone else in photos or to not be in any photos at all (it was tough finding some "before" shots because I didn't want to take any pictures back then). It's tough to change habits, to deny yourself comfort foods, to create a new habit of exercising or drinking more water or eating more fruits and vegetables. But I can vouch for the fact that you will feel a THOUSAND times better, happier and more energetic, when you're treating yourself well. 

And if we don't treat ourselves well, who will? Who will teach our children to treat themselves well if we don't show them how?

If you got through this entire post, CONGRATULATIONS! I wish I had some fabulous prize to give you, but I've got nothin'. Other than gratefulness, but I'm pretty sure you'd rather have a necklace or something. :) 

I hope this has been inspiring and encouraging to some (if not all!) of you. Please know that I'm always available for support and to answer any questions so if there's anything I can do to help, let me know! My email is always open at aworkingmomscloset at gmail.com. 

Have a GREAT day, everyone! I plan to be back tomorrow with regular outfit posts!


  1. You look fabulous in the TV shots! I hope young ladies will listen to your story and heed your warnings. I did nothing after having three children...piled on the weight...and I am just now in my 50s doing something about it...I so wish I had delt with it younger...but the good news is that I am finally seeing results!!

  2. Wow - what an amazing feat! So proud of you! You look fantastic :)

  3. Thanks for sharing your story, Melissa - you look gorgeous in your shoot!

  4. Wow, what an amazing story. You truly are such an inspiration! You should be SO proud of yourself for your accomplishments! And how fabulous do you look in the photos from the shoot!! Absolutely gorgeous. I loved this post - so inspiring!

  5. Thank you for sharing your story. What comes through the most for me is how beautiful your smile is in every picture. Obviously you have a lot of inner strength and determination and you achieved your goals!

  6. WOW!!! Sounds hard to do but I'm happy that you are happy and that you were given the opportunity. Thanks for sharing this amazing story.

  7. What a great story Melissa. I thought you were already so inspiring before, but wow and I proud to consider you my friend!!! :)

  8. I think you look very cute full-term! I've been keeping track of how much I need to lose to be at pre-pregnancy weight and had the revelation last week that I'm almost at full-term weight! I only gained 20lbs with my 2nd but it's been tough getting it off! Like you, I lost 20lbs afterwards then gained 10 back.

    I think you look great in that coral dress. One hot mama!
    Jen Hemming and Hawing Again

  9. Wow, what an amazing story...so inspiring. I also noticed in all the photos, you were smiling...you are such an amazing ad positive women and mom.

  10. Such a great and inspiring story! You're a positive lady and such a great impact on the blogging world!

    Also, my url changed and blog name, so don't follow Cupcake Adventures but follow CupcakeandCardigans . I decided to change my blog's name then the url, which I lost all my contacts. Long process of attempting to get in touch with everyone!

  11. What a awesome story and post! You look fabulous lady and cannot believe the journey you have taken, very inspirational!

  12. Wow! Thanks for sharing your story. So many women struggle to lose weight, whether from pregnancy or not, and I think it's so inspiring to hear all of the different ways people have been successful at losing it. I don't know how you made it through all those high-calorie months! I would have crumbled like the cookies that were being shoved in my mouth! :) Seriously, though, you are so right about being an example for our kids and promoting healthy eating habits and lifestyles.
    And, I gotta say you look so beautiful in ALL of the pictures with that big beautiful smile.

  13. Thank you for sharing your story. We need to hear that real women with real (and BUSY) lives CAN do this!

  14. Thanks for sharing your story! You look amazing.
    I've also been up and down with my weight my whole life and it's so empowering to finally take control of it!

  15. How exciting! You look wonderful! Thanks for sharing your story!

  16. Wow! Thanks so much for sharing! I feel like this came at the right time. Since starting to date my gentleman I've gained something like 30 lbs... and so has he. Too much cuddling and drinking wine. Anyways lately I've really been feeling not like myself but have such a hard time doing it on my own. Thanks for the inspiration....

  17. What a great story Melissa. I completely understand. I gained 70 POUNDS with my first pregnancy and didn't come close to losing all of it when I got pregnant for the second time. It took a lot of hard work but I finally got rid of all that extra weight. I think it was very cool of them to honor your accomplishment with a testimonial.

  18. You look beautiful no matter what size you are! :) Congrats on your accomplishment!!

  19. Wow this is incredible. Congrats on both your success and being able to share it.

  20. Thanks guys! You all make me feel like a million bucks. :)

  21. Thank you for sharing, Mel! I had those same dreams of being a cute little pregnant person, and then proceeded to gain 55+ pounds in ice cream, oreos, and chocolate, because sugar was the only thing that didn't make me feel sick to my stomach. It was not good.

    You're such an inspiration for telling your success story to us all :)

  22. Mel you are such an inspiration! I just read every word of your story and am enthralled at your perserverence! You are incredibly beautiful with a great bod!) so it looks like the hard work paid off! P.S. I'm a veggie too! :)

  23. Awesome story Mel! Thanks so much for sharing!! I think you look pretty dang amazing in that coral dress! :)

  24. Melissa--I didn't think I could love you more than I already do without meeting you, but this post was amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your story so honestly. I am so happy for you and what you've done...can't wait to see you do even better things to come!

  25. I put on weight after having both of my children and have found it really difficult to shift. I excercise regularly but that alone doesn't seem to help, I have to really cut back on what I eat.

  26. Thats for sharing this story. I actually had the opposite problem. So I kind know how you felt.


  27. You look beautiful in every single picture! Thanks for sharing your story!!!

  28. Wow!!! Has it been THAT long that we have been friends?? I love it! And yeah...I guess it has because we met back when I was still with the ex-BOYfriend and I was participating in Signing Time chats on Wednesday night. I remember the eating plan you were on. WHEW!!! And I do remember you being cranky about it. But not so much that I had to turn you off or anything. :) You have done very very well, honey and I am proud of you. I still have quite a ways to go to get where I want to be but when I look at the before and after pictures I am APPALLED at how I used to look!!!! But...50 pounds down from my original weight in just a little more than a year and a half...without EVER going back up...and I am happy with my progress.

  29. oh wow, you are so inspiring!! Congrats on your accomplishment .. you look great and I bet the feeling is even better!


  30. Wow! Thanks for sharing. It's a powerful thing to open up and remind everyone else they are not alone in struggles. And great dress for the shoot :)

  31. You look fantastic and are an inspiration. I am on a weight loss journey and you just gave me that little bit of UMPH I needed to keep moving. Thank you so much for your friendship! Cheers! xo


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