Melissa Dunn, 35, of Park Hills, Missouri has seemingly always been overweight. She developed much faster than girls her age, which spurred a binge-purge routine to try and stay as slim as her peers. But each attempt only left her heavier than before, and Melissa eventually turned to yo yo dieting to try and lose the weight.
Compound those struggles with emotional scars from abuse she faced as a child and Melissa began using her weight as a shield to avoid getting hurt by others. “I found the bigger I got the less happy I was, and the less people wanted to be around me,” she said.
Two things eventually caused Melissa to change. First, her dad had grown so heavy that his doctors told him to lose weight or face death, and Melissa wanted to support him. And Melissa had gotten so heavy herself that she struggled to even walk through the store without getting swollen ankles which left her in too much pain to move for hours afterwards.
Out of these struggles came Melissa’s decision to change her health and ultimately her life, and no longer exist in a state of depression.
To lose the weight Melissa started making small changes, switching from regular beef to lean beef, then adding in more chicken and turkey. She also went from regular soda to diet, and eventually cut it out altogether. Today Melissa drinks half her weight in ounces of water every day. Around that time she also began exercising at a local gym for an hour five days a week.
Eventually Melissa went completely vegetarian and also decided to take her fitness one step further. Today, she teaches 10 hours of fitness classes a week as a licensed Zumba, Aqua Zumba and Zumbatomic instructor.
“Zumba was really a great way for me to get into exercising and stick with it,” she said. “I have always loved to dance and Zumba made burning a lot of calories fun.”
Beyond physical changes, Melissa experienced drastic emotional and psychological changes along the way as well. She recalls the moment she stopped feeling like a victim and instead took responsibility for her life and her choices.
“The more I worked out and the more I realized what I could do, the more I challenged all of those negative victim tapes that played over and over in my head. I have become more healthy – and not just physically but all around healthy – than I have ever been,” she said. “I am a generally happy person and free in my mind as well as my body.”
So far Melissa has lost an amazing 135 pounds, bringing her weight down from 349 pounds to 214 pounds. She eventually hopes to reach her goal weight of 150 pounds, as well as become certified in health and wellness training, group exercise and personal training. Her other dream is to become a motivational speaker.
“I have made such strides. From being a depressed woman who struggled with PTSD from years of abuse to a strong, free, and positive thriving woman, I feel as though I would have a lot to offer to inspire and motivate others.”
To follow Melissa’s ongoing weight loss and thoughts on overcoming a victim mentality, check out her blog, Negative Nancy to Positive Patty.