Name: Melissa King
Before Weight: 425 pounds
How I Gained It: I was always the fat kid growing up. My dad left before I was born and my mom was a single mother trying to do her best to raise me, with the help of my amazing grandparents. I struggled with not having a father or siblings and a family that was, for the most part, overweight. I ate to make myself happy. I ate when I was sad and celebrated with food on special occasions. I was a mindless eater, eating just to eat, instead of when I was hungry. I was bullied, called names and made fun of, which absolutely didn’t help. It made me eat even more.
I won’t blame anyone for getting to be 425 pounds. I am the only one to blame. But life experiences definitely contributed to how I gained weight so quickly. One year after I was married, my stepdad, who raised me from age 10, dropped dead from a massive heart attack. I didn’t see it at the time, but I was extremely depressed and food was my crutch. It was the only thing I felt I could turn to when everything around me seemed to be falling apart.
Breaking Point: I remember the exact day, April 1, 2012. Something finally clicked within me. I was tired of being tired all the time. I was tired of not being able to walk far distances. I was tired of worrying about going out to eat with friends or family and if I was going to fit in the seat at the restaurant. I was tired of the looks, comments and bullying I had received for so long. I had to wear a seatbelt extender just to drive my car. I couldn’t fit in one airplane seat -- I had to ask a stewardess for an extension for the seat belt, and couldn’t fit into an airplane restroom. I was so uncomfortable in my own body.
I missed out on snorkeling in Mexico and Hawaii. I couldn’t go hiking, ziplining or skydiving -- all things I dreamed about. I think at that very moment, sitting on my couch, I knew I had to make a change. I was 31 years old and had spent my whole life overweight. I was in an unhappy marriage and spiraling out of control. My blood pressure was through the roof, I was pre-diabetic and I had several doctors warning me about the possibility of a shortened life and my need for weight-loss surgery. I knew for this to work, I had to lose the weight on my own. Surgery wasn’t an option. So I made a commitment to myself and never looked back.
How I Lost It: Several coworkers of mine joined Weight Watchers and attended meetings at work. I knew meetings were not my thing, but I was constantly hearing about their success with the program. So one night, I finally went home and decided I would give the program a try online. I committed to not cheating and following the steps, 100 percent. I wasn’t going to give up everything I loved to eat, but instead ate in moderation. I bought a scale that would go up to 450 pounds to weigh myself weekly.
I bought a food scale and measuring cups to weigh out my portions. I switched to whole grains, brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, lean meats and filled up on fruit and veggies. I stopped using tons of oil and butter when preparing dishes. I stopped drinking four to five sodas every day and switched to water and tea. I gave up fast food. Small changes helped me succeed.
After about three months, I had already shed more than 40 pounds and decided that the next step was to join a gym. I could barely do 5 minutes on the elliptical when I started. I was out of breath and felt like I couldn’t do a minute more, but I pushed through. I committed to going to the gym three to five times a week and absolutely fell in love with it. It became my escape, a place to go on a bad day. Instead of turning to food to feel better, I went and worked out.
I would slowly add 1 minute to my workout each time, until finally I was up to 1 hour on the elliptical. I incorporated weight machines, I tried Zumba, and one day tried a fitness class called U-Jam. I had never been active in my life and I'm not a dancer, but the hip-hop music was a blast to work out to. After a few classes I was hooked. It was such a fun and energetic way to lose the weight! I stuck with the gym and eating healthy and decided this was the lifestyle I had always wanted. I was finally becoming the person who was hidden inside me for so long.
How My Life Is Different Now: My life has completely changed. Losing weight and becoming healthy made me refocus on what I truly wanted. I left a very unhappy marriage and job and made a fresh start. I met an incredible man who accepts me for who I am, helps me on my journey to continue to improve myself, and sees past my excess skin. The hardest part of my journey has been dealing with excess skin from losing such a large amount of weight. I struggle with it and have sought out a surgeon to hopefully have skin removal surgery one day. I want to see the progress I have worked so hard for underneath all of that skin. It will cost me approximately $24,000 to have the surgeries I need, but I am confident that somehow I will have it done!
I am able to go hiking now, work out and lift weights, go snowboarding, run my first 5K -- all things that would never have been possible before. I love being outdoors. I love being active. I can shop anywhere now and have gone from a size 30/30 (4X) to a size 10! I no longer need two seats on an airplane or need to worry about fitting into a booth when I go out to eat. My blood pressure is perfect and I am no longer pre-diabetic. I am a healthy woman who can enjoy life! After two years, I lost 235 pounds and I have maintained my weight for a year -- I'm still trying to lose another 20!
Current Weight: 190
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The Huffington Post publishes photographs as they are submitted to us by our readers. As told to Erin Schumaker.
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