My Journey from 260lbs to Freedom By Melissa Solomon


by ASDT Official November 15, 2016 29 Comments

I have thought through my story a thousand times in my head, but I never actually put my thoughts to paper until now. This is scary for me; insecurities roam through my mind: is my story even worth telling? Will I be judged? If I tell people about my world at my lowest low, it makes it all real. It was real. But perhaps my story can help someone, somewhere. So, here I go. I am a 32 year old full time working mom and wife with a beautiful 5 year old daughter. I have dealt with body image issues and low self-confidence my whole life. I have always been a little thicker, but I found I really started gaining weight when I began my relationship my husband Jeff several years ago. I guess I was comfortable and no longer had to worry so much about my image—he genuinely just loved me.

I was 215lbs when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. At my first appointment my doctor told me the risks of being so overweight (I am only 5’4). I was determined to get healthier with the help of my doctor, not only for me, but for my unborn child. I watched what I ate and walked daily. I did not gain even one pound my entire pregnancy. I was thrilled and thought I would surely be at least 10 lbs lighter after giving birth. WRONG. Not a difference. I was so confused. I asked my doctor why that could be, and her response was that this was just ‘normal for an obese person’. Needless to say, I did not like that answer. Obese. I was obese. That word stung a little. 

I fell quickly into a depression that was driven by even more weight gain. I searched for a medical reason that would explain why I was so large. In the process I let my weight spiral out of control until I topped the scales at 260lbs. I was disgusted, embarrassed, and deeply ashamed. I could barely walk up the stairs without losing my breath, my body hurt and my quality of life was poor. I just knew that if I did not change the direction I was headed; my life would be significantly shortened. The thought of my habits playing any sort of role in taking something away from my daughter was the turning point. In March 2013 I finally looked at myself in the mirror, tears streaming down my face, and I asked myself WHY I let myself go so far. Why did I hate myself so much? Was my life worth reclaiming? What would it feel like if I could change everything? In that moment, I knew it was up to me to take action. I needed to take ownership of what brought me to 260lbs and I needed to fix it. I started with finding an accountability partner; I chose one of my sisters. We began to do short work outs together: 20-30 minutes 2-3 times a week. It didn’t matter what I did, as long as I was just moving. Over time I started to build on those workouts. My goals began to evolve from 20-30 minutes of activity to 30-40 minutes, then over time up to an hour. I transitioned from slow walks, to walking up hill, to doing short running intervals. I’d day dream about what it would be like to be healthy. I would see other women doing awesome things like running, and I thought that could never be me. I could barely run on the treadmill for one minute. Run a mile?? Ya, right! But the image of those women happily running stuck with me, so I made a goal of running a mile without stopping. I mapped out a flat route by my house that was exactly a mile. The first time I tried this mile I probably stopped at least 6 times. But I tried again and again looking for small improvements each run. I still remember perfectly the first time I ran a whole mile without stopping. As I could see the end in sight I remember thinking “I can do this. I am actually going to run a mile!” and I pushed ahead, literally telling my mind (that was trying to convince me that I couldn’t do it) to shut the heck up. As I reached the end of that mile, tears welled up and poured out of my eyes. My sister gave me a huge congratulatory hug and she shed a tear with me. Those 13 minutes were life changing. It started a fire within me that has only built rolling momentum over time.

melissa3

I then set my sights on completing a 5k. And guess what-I did it! It took me 45 minutes, but it was further than I had ever gone before. From there, my goals just kept evolving. I loved seeing myself grow. I loved pushing to break through a new barrier I thought was unattainable. As I progressed with these physical achievements, weight loss followed in step. Just shy of a year into my fitness journey I decided to kick it up a notch with the encouragement of my sister and I committed to and completed a sprint triathlon in February 2014 which included a 400 yard mile swimming, 10 mile bike ride, and 3.1 mile run. A year prior I would have never even thought I could achieve something like that! My whole world was changing little by little. My confidence was growing, my zest for life was increasing, and I felt like a whole new person.

melissa4melissa6

In May 2014 my sister and I were invited to join a newly created running group. I had only ever run with my sister-she was my comfort zone. She had been with me through it all, my very first work out, my breakthrough of a mile. The thought of running with other people honestly frightened me. What if they were stellar runners and I held them up with my novice abilities? I decided to put my fears aside and give it a try once. Everyone told me that running in a group would change me for the better-but I could not fathom how that was even possible. The first run with the group I was a nervous wreck. We were doing 4 miles on a dirt canal road. After the first mile my body (and nerves) settled in and I stopped thinking about running- I just started talking with the girls. It got my mind distracted from that little whisper that happens to everyone that says “Stop. You are tired. Just walk”. I completed the whole 4 miles with them without stopping which was yet another Personal Record. I was excited to go again. We started going weekly, sometimes even picking up a run on a week night. I began to gain endurance. I tested myself. I pushed to keep up and not stop. These girls cheered me on when they knew I had achieved something and lifted me when I struggled, and I began to do the same for them. I grew from just wanting to achieve something through running to falling in love with it. The running group convinced me to take a giant leap and sign up for a half marathon together (Say what?! A HALF?!) And guess what, I did it. In October 2014 I completed the Pink Series Half Marathon in Park City with a time of 2:45. I struggled. But I did it. And I felt like a giant standing on top of the world after. Running with these girls had changed me. I found a support network of encouraging women who wanted to raise each other up, cheer each other on, and share their love of running with anyone who wanted to join.

melissa8

In May 2015 I completed the Ogden half marathon and I crushed my original half time finishing in 2:17. It poured rain the entire time but I loved every second of it. I am already looking forward to participating in the Huntsville Half this September and as well as the Ogden Full Marathon in 2016. Running has opened a whole new world for me. I love the feeling of my feet hitting the pavement and a breeze in my face as I fly through the air. Through running, I have seen not only physical growth, but personal growth. I have had ah-ha moments, I have shed a tear or two, I have fallen, I have been picked up and picked others up, I have laughed until I cried, I have vented like I was in a therapy session, I have struggled and I have overcome. I have gained friendships through running that I know will last a lifetime. I have felt the high of a PR and felt the low of struggling to even finish. And I want to go out and do it again and again and again. Rain, shine, snow, wind, road, dirt-my heart craves being outside, anywhere, logging any miles I can.

I run because it’s so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can’t. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought.’ Arthur Blank

  I dreamt of being one of those ‘success stories’ and one of those runner women. Well, here I am. melissa9Melissa10

A little over 2 years and 115 pounds separate my before’ish’ pictures (forgive my ‘befores’; photos did not exist in my world back then) and my current pictures. My life, my attitude, and my whole demeanor have changed abundantly. So, to you I say this: if there is something in your life you want to change, if there is a goal you want to achieve, if you dream of being a person that is different than who you are today-What are you waiting for? Go. Live your life. Become that person—you can do it! It takes little changes. And those little changes build up over time to become one huge change. Just take the first step. And then another after that. Much love, mugslife




ASDT Official
ASDT Official

Author



29 Responses

Brittney
Brittney

November 16, 2016

Amazing, inspiring, beautiful story, thank you for sharing.

Heather
Heather

October 04, 2016

what about diet? Did that change?

Chris
Chris

October 04, 2016

That is so awesome!! After many years of being unable to lose weight, I will be having gastric bypass in a few days. I can’t wait until I can start my exercise program, to include running, and eventually do a marathon ( something that had been on my bucket list).
You are an inspiration and I’m thrilled for your success and I hope to achieve the same.

Gina (Middleton) Deceuster
Gina (Middleton) Deceuster

October 04, 2016

Beautiful story.

SusieWashburn
SusieWashburn

October 04, 2016

Melissa, I’m so proud of you! You are so beautiful and always have been. Thank you for your inspiring story. I have many obstacles to overcome. I truly appreciate your advice to just start and do a little more each day. I think you are amazing!
Love Susie

Caryl
Caryl

October 04, 2016

Oh my goodness! Thank you so much for sharing your story! I feel like I am you two years ago, this is so inspiring. I’ve literally had dreams where I’m running and it feels so good…then I wake up. You’ve truly boosted my resolve to try again. And again!

Suzy
Suzy

October 04, 2016

AMAZING!!! Thank you for sharing, what an inspiration!!!

Camille
Camille

October 04, 2016

Thanks for sharing your story! Great accomplishment and you look so happy!!

Marcia Wilson
Marcia Wilson

October 04, 2016

LOVE this and I LOVE you!!! What a story, way to go Mug!

Melissa
Melissa

October 04, 2016

Thank you!!

Melissa
Melissa

October 04, 2016

Thank you Gina :)

Melissa
Melissa

October 04, 2016

Hi! I started logging my food and exercise through My Fitness Pal when I began my journey, and I still log to this day. I think that has been a tremendous help in addition to my exercise. I have personally never done well with “dieting” or restricting myself, so for me logging my food just made me more aware of what I was eating and with that my food choices have just evolved over time.

Melissa
Melissa

October 04, 2016

Thank you for your kind words! good luck with your procedure and with your future goals! Wishing you the best <3

Terri
Terri

October 04, 2016

Wonderful…as soon as my knees and ankles stop aching..I’m going to get out there…baby steps… Doctor appointment on Monday
Great job..you are truly an inspiration…Keep it up

Melissa
Melissa

October 04, 2016

Thank you for the message Susie, Your kind words mean so much to me!

Melissa
Melissa

October 04, 2016

You’ve got this! Small steps… Go make your dreams come true! Cheering for you <3

Melissa
Melissa

October 04, 2016

Thank you <3

Melissa
Melissa

October 04, 2016

Thank you for the kind words!

Mary Jeanne Johnson
Mary Jeanne Johnson

October 04, 2016

Melissa, what an inspiring story. I’ve been fighting the battle of the bulge my whole life. I’ve lost numerous pounds at different times in my life. As long as I could keep exercising and watch what I ate I was good. I kept my weight off for a few years then my back went out. With back surgery, I became less and less active and more and more heavier. Then just recently I fell and broke my hip in 3 places. I’m in bed now recuperating. I’m not giving Up though because I know I can accomplish anything with the Lords help! Keep up the good work Melissa, I’m really proud of you. You have accomplished so much.
Take Care, love your neighbor, Mary Jeanne Johnson

Natalie
Natalie

October 04, 2016

So amazing! I was so touched when I read about you conquering one mile! Thank you for sharing!

Michele Anderson
Michele Anderson

October 04, 2016

Melissa, I don’t know if you will remember me, but your mom was one of my Young women leaders, and I remember you and your sisters when you were little. Your story has inspired me. I have been one of those people who watch other people run and I think I can’t do that, but I see how you made it work for you and that encourages me to follow your example. I am overweight and have gotten frustrated with my body but reading your journey makes me realize that it takes patience and effort. Thank you for sharing your story!

Melissa
Melissa

October 04, 2016

Thank you Terri! Wishing you a quick recovery from your pain. Baby steps! You can do this!

Melissa
Melissa

October 04, 2016

Hi Mandy! Small world—Amy is my sister (and my friend too :) ) It was so nice to meet you on the trail run. Thank you for such sweet compliments. Hopefully I will see you at another DAMA meet up-I love getting out and being active with awesome women!

Melissa
Melissa

October 04, 2016

Hi Mary! I am so sorry to hear you had a recent injury-I’m wishing you a speedy recovery. Thank you for the message, and I agree- You CAN accomplish anything! It was so fun to hear from you, thank you, neighbor!

Melissa
Melissa

October 04, 2016

Thanks for reading Natalie!

Melissa
Melissa

October 04, 2016

Hi Michele! How fun to touch base again after all these years :) . It does take patience, and it is so worth it! Thanks for the kind message.

Mandy Wallace
Mandy Wallace

October 04, 2016

I met you at the DAMA trail run meet up last Tuesday and I just remembered thinking you looked like a hard-core athlete and you have beautiful eyes. Would never have guessed this was your story!!! But I just wanted to say I think you are amazing! Keep it up and good luck on your first Marathon. (Also, P.S- Is Amy your sister or your friend??? I used to live by her in So. Ogden….:)

Melissa
Melissa

October 04, 2016

Thanks Shannon! Good luck with your journey. Wishing you the best!

Shannon
Shannon

October 04, 2016

I can’t tell you how much your story has helped inspire me to get myself back on track. I read this the other day when a mutual friend of your sisters posted it on FB & I keep coming back to it. I’ve taken a long hiatus from taking care of myself, & my excuses are legitimate but I see I’ve been letting them make me feel like I have no choice, when I actually do. Thank you for sharing your journey!

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.