Melissa: before
Age: 34
Height: 5'7"
Weight: 193 pounds
Melissa says she's overweight because she's an emotional eater. "The first thing I do when the day is bad is [eat fast food]," she says. "I realized how much I turn to favorites when I don't feel good."

An Oprah show with Bob Greene re-energized her desire to try again. "Someone said, 'You just need to start doing healthy things for your body and the motivation will come.'"

Melissa says she's been unable to maintain weight loss in the past because it was difficult to commit. But being in shape, Melissa says, is critical to her emotional well-being. "I'm trying to view this one day at a time, so I don't get overwhelmed," she says. "I believe that will help me continue. Just one day at a time. Baby steps!"
Melissa: before
I'm about ready to go to bed, but I thought I'd put down a couple thoughts as the day ends. Wow! What an experience! I've been reading the message boards on the Oprah website and have been so touched by the messages that have been posted in support of me and the others in our group of six. I have also received so many calls from friends and family that have been loving and supportive.

I was so scared after the show was filmed and that somehow I would come off in a negative light or my part would be embarrassing to my family and friends. But I have gotten nothing but support for my "bravery, courage and honesty." ...

I want my life to be better, and actually, the hardest step I have taken thus far was the first morning I got up early to go work out. I don't want to go to bed one more day depressed that another day has gone by and it had just been the same old, same old.

I also wanted to respond to a couple things.

Did I look flat and did I look depressed on the show? Of course! I'm not happy about where I'm at and I was discussing that topic. I take Wellbutrin and Celexa and meet with a psychiatrist on a regular basis. I have come a long way from the days of leaving my kids to fend for themselves while I slept. Now, if we had been discussing my family trip to Florida in October, you would have seen a different side of my personality. But that's not what we're doing. I'm taking a serious look at things in my life that are causing unhappiness, holding me back; and I am searching for ways to move forward.

One thing I have started doing is asking myself why I reach for something unhealthy or eat at a time when I'm not really hungry. I try to stand really present in that moment and tap into why I'm choosing to do that, and I'm having more understanding and discovering things about myself that I find fascinating.

I'm trying to just answer the questions Bob and Oprah say to ask myself. I'm trying to be teachable and in a learning state of mind.

I think motivation is the most difficult thing to maintain and that's why I'm so grateful for the other challengers and their regular e-mails and text messages. I'm grateful for the friends and family I have surrounding me. I'm grateful for all the wonderful info on and I'm grateful for the Oprah message boards. And I am grateful that there is a higher power that I can call on and have faith in, that he will help me in my efforts to improve my life. Because I know that is his only hope for me—happiness, peace, gratitude and satisfaction.

Melissa: before
It's been a couple of weeks since I have written, but I'm finally making myself sit down and put some thoughts on paper. I have made a lot of progress the last two weeks and I'm feeling really great! Although, I have to admit, it is still a daily struggle to eat well and exercise.

On March 31, 2007, The Oprah Show and Bob Greene gathered the six of us (challengers) and surprised us with five days of working out. I had small twinges of guilt about leaving my husband with the kids for the five days, but I was so looking forward to this break and we had so much help from friends and family. I feel like I have been making such efforts to shop regularly, cook regularly, exercise regularly, journal regularly, along with housework and being a mom, so the chance for some quiet and rest was very welcomed.

My husband is amazing, too! He took on everything without a single hesitation and he ran everything beautifully while I was gone. He even made me his healthy granola bars to take with me. Now, that's love! :)

My meeting with Bob was really interesting. He really helped me get to the point where I could admit I had a lot of anger inside me. I enjoyed being with the other challengers again. I have admiration for them knowing they are all experiencing great challenges and learning so much from this experience. We are united in our desire to make big changes and everyone is doing so great!

Even when I returned from the retreat, I ended up picking up a stomach flu from my husband and, once again, I had the deep fear of not being able to get it back together again or not being able to establish my workout routine again. But, over the last seven weeks, I have faced several colds and flus that normally would have halted any progress I had made. But I have fought through them and I keep rebounding, so there is this little piece in me that is starting to believe in me and believe that I am going to get this done and be successful at it!

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed not having to cook, shop, change diapers, do dishes, do laundry, stop tantrums, carpool, answer the phone, or even pick up e-mail. No one was making demands on me for five days—outside of the physically demanding workout we had—but those actually felt good. When I returned home, my husband and kids met me at the airport with flowers! Seeing my beautiful little family again was wonderful. They are so dear to me!

Since, I've been home I have not worked out for less than two hours. A one-hour workout just doesn't feel right, especially since I know I can do more. I met with someone today that I haven't seen for about three weeks and they commented on how my countenance has changed. They said I looked healthier and confident. I'm feeling more alive and awake than I've felt in years.

I kept remarking on the retreat how I felt like little by little I am awakening from this funk I've been in for so long. It is thrilling. It literally gives me chills!

Melissa: before
We just returned from our family trip to Disneyland and what a wonderful experience. This was the first time I didn't worry before we left whether or not I would be able to keep up, and how much Advil I would need, and when I would be able to get back to the hotel room for naps!

We were at Disneyland for four days—and of the four days, I worked out twice before we left for the park in the morning. Then we spent the rest of the time in the park.

There were a couple times where our 2-year-old needed a nap, so I would take him back to the hotel and take a little nap, but it wasn't out of sheer exhaustion and necessity like it has been in past years.

The park was so much more enjoyable for me. I was able to spend most of the days on my feet without all of the pain and tiredness. I could play in the little play areas with my kids and run up and down the stairs and do the slides, etc. Overall, I just felt so good. I never worried about not getting enough sleep at night if I got up early to work out because I have learned that movement perpetuates more movement and I usually have more energy and move more the days I work out in the mornings.

We really ate well on the trip, too. My husband even brought me a fruit plate from one of the Disneyland concession stands! Of course, we did have our treats! We were in Disneyland, we had to indulge the flavorful side, but it wasn't overboard treat bingeing like it has been in the past.

We mostly ate stuff that gave us energy and nutrition, and then had a little treat here and there.

I realized the first day into our trip how much things were changing for me, when we were reviewing pictures we took during the day. I noticed I was looking so much better in pictures and I didn't mind looking at myself in pictures. I'm so used to cringing and being disappointed about how I looked, but the next day, I noticed I was friendlier to the camera and actually wanted to have more pictures of myself taken with my honey and kids!

Melissa: before
This week has been really good. I've really been working hard to be active during the days in addition to my workout and to also be eating healthy. One of my new favorite things is strawberries in very vanilla yogurt. Yum!

My son is doing a sports camp this week about an hour away, so that has meant some serious driving time for me—roughly about fours hours a day. But he is having such a good experience learning new sports and learning about health and nutrition that it has been my pleasure to get him there and home every day.

Me and my 2-year-old have been walking the dog every day and it just makes such a difference for kids when they get out and exercise, too. They have so much energy that it's almost a must to help them find ways to expend it. Plus, endorphins kick in and everyone is happier.

Well, get this, my size 14 clothes are starting to be big on me! I love it! I never imagined I would ever say that! It's been really fun putting on stuff though and feeling the clothes baggy from size 14! Wow!

I'm really working hard on my stomach right now. It seems that area is just really stubborn on me and it's the last to go. So tons of sit-ups, crunches, anything that will work my abs and help get them back where they are supposed to be. I hate having a fat belly!

One thing I realized this week is that, for anyone following my blogs, down days are not an issue for me anymore. Crazy huh? I hadn't even noticed till I was looking through some of my earlier entries. I think I've had one or two in the last couple of months. That is amazing to me and is such a testament to the Best Life Diet. I would never be as happy and strong as I am today if I hadn't made the decision to change what I was doing. Then beyond that, staying committed to making the changes last.

I am so grateful at this point in the challenge that I have had so much support from family and friends. I couldn't have gotten this far this successfully without everyone that has helped me stay motivated, friends that have watched my kids, and my family that has supported me every step of this challenge. I could never have imagined my life could be so improved on a physical and emotional level by exercising and eating right. The change in my life has been dramatic!

Also, thank you Bob and Oprah for this experience!

Melissa: before
Well, the last week has kicked my butt! Within about a 10-day period I found out an aunt of mine has pancreatic cancer; an uncle of mine has Parkinson's; my grandpa passed, thankfully of old age; and our church bishop of five and a half years was released Sunday.

Also, there has been a fairly traumatic event in Utah with six miners being trapped in a coal mine, along with three rescue miners that were killed trying to find them. That has weighed so heavily on my mind. I just want the families of the lost miners to know if their loved ones are alive or not. It's been excruciating to go to bed every night and wake up every morning and hear nothing more of their condition. It's gone on about two weeks now.

Thus, I have definitely not been myself. I've actually been quite down and wasn't putting it all together until I started talking to my husband last night. I was happy for my grandpa's passing. He was basically stuck in a body that no longer worked, and for him to have relief was so welcomed. However, it brought with it many memories of my dad and also the end of an era with my dad's grandparents. My grandmother passed last spring. Their home will not be sold and it had always been a place of warmth and refuge. There was a dinner there the night of the funeral and it was just sad knowing neither of them was there anymore. Thinking about my dad is always hard. I miss him so much and would do anything just to be able to talk to him for 10 minutes.

Our bishop being released was also very sentimental as he was so instrumental in helping my family through the difficult times after we lost my dad in 2003. We wouldn't have come through it half as well as we did without his constant love, prayers and concern for us.

Then, throw in a lot of PMS! So, suffice it to say, I've been down and unusually weary. I've been sleeping this week. I was also taking some Unisom to get through some of the emotions of the last week, since I wasn't sleeping very well and I think that reduced the effectiveness of the antidepressants I've been taking—at least, some articles I read online said Unisom shouldn't be taken with MAOI. Then, I also take Requip for RLS. I also read that Unisom can heighten the drowsiness effects of Requip. Thus, in addition to feeling down, I think I've been a little doped up! I've slept more in the last four days than I have in months.

So last night, no Unisom and no Requip. I read something that said through mental imaging I could control some of the jumpy legs and, surprisingly enough, I fell asleep without any jumpiness. I woke up more alert today and definitely got some things done instead of being called to bed all day long. I also ate better today. When I'm tired and down, I usually don't eat and that really doesn't help either! It all just kind of compounds and I now know what I need to do to pull myself out, but the feelings of being caught in the mud when I'm down are so hard to shake.

Hopefully, in the next couple of days, with no Unisom and Requip, I'll be back to normal.

Melissa: before
I have two priorities right now:

1. Eating Right
2. Exercising

If I get those two things done in a day—and that is all—I have accomplished my goals! It's really hard to limit yourself to not going here or there, or accepting every invitation to lunch or dinner, etc.

There are still things that come up though. I had a funeral to attend this week. Then I had a sister who needed an emergency babysitter. I really have to remind myself every single day what my priorities are for the day, or else those two things are the first to go out the door when things "come up."

That's all I have for this week.

Just trying to stay focused,

As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.


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