Meet Melissa | Overcoming anxiety and reaching her goals

Meet Melissa from Murrieta, CA! Her story is truly beautiful and inspiring as she recounts the details of how she overcame anxiety, dealt with a Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome diagnosis and reaching her goal weight. Read all the details below and follow her on Instagram @losingitwithmelissa to see more of her journey. 
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you began your fitness journey?
A: 2006 me was a very different version of the person I am today. I've dealt with anxiety and hormonal issues for many years, and food was always my comfort, my saving grace from the crazy world. Tired, weak and anxious, and not to mention the amounts of "how far along are you?" I received on a daily basis at my retail job (I have no children btw, never been pregnant). Come to find out on top of everything else, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome that made gaining weight that much easier.  
In the summer of 2007, once I hit 199 pounds I decided I needed to do something. I was miserable.
Q: How did you get to where you are now and why? 
A: I decided to start out but just cutting back on my portion sizes. I mean I could eat a meal for a family by myself in one sitting, now I was eating for me. I also became more mindful of how I was eating. Was I stuffing my face because I had a bad day, was my blood sugar low? I also started slowly going to the gym, walking on the treadmill here and there, nothing too crazy, but the weight started slowly coming off. Just the fact that I began doing yoga and meditation at home and it helped lower my anxiety showed me how fitness can improve your life. Seeing the number on the scale drop slowly each week was both agonizing and satisfying at the same time. I loved hitting those milestones.
It took me about 5 years to really drop to my goal weight. At 145, Im now more energetic and ready to take on the world. In the past food only brought me comfort for a moment, it never solved my problems. I know have a much healthier relationship with food (with the occasional paleo cookie here and there.) Weightlifting has also become my passion. I love it. For that one hour I dedicate to myself, there's nothing else going on but pushing myself to be stronger.  
Q: What is your ultimate goal?
A: My ultimate goal is to continue to become stronger everyday, mentally and physically. The challenges never change, but the mentality and growth is what encourages me to keep going. When I changed the way I looked at the world and certain situations, I saw growth in myself and it was encouraging. 
My hope and future goal is to use the challenges that I have faced with anxiety, hormones and weight, to inspire others who may feel hopeless that it is possible. It is possible to overcome these challenges and come out the other side a beacon of light for others.
Q: What does the term "embrace your journey" mean to you?
A: I've learned that everyone's journey is unique. I've embraced the path I've been on as a means for inspiring others. My anxiety and panic attacks took a lot from me in my early adult years. It was only through that trial that I was able to find how truly strong I could be. I could hide the fact that I dealt with anxiety, or the pictures of when I was overweight, but I've realized that all happened for a reason. There's so many others in this world in the same place and not knowing how to start or where to look, and if I could be an inspiration or motivation to just one person then my journey was worth it to me. 
Q: Who/what are your biggest inspirations And why?
A: I would say my mom is my biggest inspiration. Even when I was going through the lowest of the lows, she encouraged me to push through. She's always encouraged me to do things that push me past my comfort zone. Last year was my first time I've ever been on an airplane, and while I was pretty nervous, she sent me nothing but encouraging words and challenged me to face my fears. This drive has carried over into all aspects of my life, including my fitness routine. I always push myself a bit more out of my comfort zone. I would have never tried a weightlifting class if I stayed in my comfort zone, now I love it. I owe that new mentality to my mom. 
Check out Melissa's blog: http://losingitwithmelissa.net/  

Q: What is your process for tackling a challenge and the hard days?
A: What I've learned throughout my journey is that I have to be prepared for those days that are a little more challenging than others. Meditation and yoga has taught me, above anything else, to breathe. I incorporate mindful breathing into all aspects of my daily life, but it really comes in handy when I'm stressed and looking to turn to food. Coming back to my breath gives me time to analyze if I really need to eat or if I'm just stressed. I then have the opportunity to take action from there.
Mindfulness has also helped me to be more aware of the words I am saying to myself. When you battle with anxiety, the thoughts you have can lift you up or completely tear you apart. I've learned to realize when I'm being too hard on myself, and look at situations from all aspects. Self care has become such an important part of my routine. When the tough days come, if your running on an empty tank it just makes it worse. Mindfulness, fitness and a healthy diet helps give your body the advantage when the tough times do roll around. 
Q: A piece of advice you'd like to give others on their fitness journey?
A: The biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone on a fitness journey is to be proud of yourself everyday, even for the small milestones. It's great to have a support group along with you, but you spend the most time with you, and you should be the only person you need to make happy. You don't need to look like a supermodel or have perfect abs to be happy in your own skin. The more your encourage yourself and get motivated by the little milestones, those things will come.
Please also realize that this journey is unique to you. While I saw others losing weight within weeks, it took me years. Don't compare your place in the journey to someone else. They may have a different metabolism than you. Don't worry about anyone but you and your journey. You'll be more motivated and happier that way.  

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