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By Mary M. Nearpass
Melissa Hart was born and raised as an only child on a five hundred-acre dairy farm in Stewartsville, NJ. As a little girl, she was very involved in cheerleading and sports. She was a star pitcher in the girls’ Little League, and by the time she reached junior high, she has already earned herself a varsity letter and played at the high-school level.
Melissa was well on her way to college with a full scholarship when her son arrived; she was eighteen years old. Soon after, she gave birth to two beautiful daughters. For Melissa, it seemed impossible to get that baby weight off. “I was always very confident and thin before children and my metabolism had changed.” As with many women, “I seemed to never actually lose all the weight at that time. It affected me in a very negative way, but I was able to keep it under control for a few years.”
Due to all the accumulating stress and anxiety of her relationship not working out and trying to raise her children on her own, Melissa found herself with an increasingly poor self-image. “Over the next ten years, I began to neglect my health and eating things that were not good for me. I was eating salts, sugars, greasy foods and eating late at night and overeating. I put on about one hundred pounds over that time. This type of abusive eating had so many effects on my body. It had caused me high cholesterol, PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder), a very negative self-image, social anxiety and ultimately slowly wallowing in a sea of weight-induced depression. The weight made me feel unattractive. I felt that I was caught in this weight, and it was impossible to get out of this entrapment. I felt as though people looked down on me when I was bigger.”
Melissa is an extremely attractive woman. Unfortunately, she tended to gravitate toward relationships that were not really healthy. This all fed into a part of the depression that had caused many issues in her life. However, when the weight began to come off, the image in her mind began to change and things became clear again. “It is amazing how the weight was controlling so many parts of my life in a negative way. I feel so in control of my life, my eating habits, and my future direction with my health. I have learned that all relationships are not good relationships, and not to stay in a situation that makes you unhappy. It affects your health in so many negative ways.
One day in February 2014, Melissa went for a wellness check-up at her physician’s office. She was diagnosed with high cholesterol. Her HDLs were 388 points high while only in her young forties. Her doctor explained to her that if she did not change her diet and begin some kind of exercise program that she was a good candidate for a heart attack or stroke. She went home and thought long and hard about what her doctor had explained, and decided it was time to do something about her health. “I was not ready to die. I started to walk around my neighborhood as much as I could. I was so sore and way out of shape, so it was difficult. After two weeks of walking and thinking and knowing that it was time for me to really get serious about my health, my life, and my future well-being, I made the decision to commit to a new life. I was just plain sick of complaining about it and all the health issues. I put it in my mind that this is what I need to do for my health and me. I decided to go over to Club Metro USA of Phillipsburg, NJ. I walked into the club and joined that very day.”
I asked Melissa if this was the first time that she ever tried to lose weight. “There have been many times that I started a diet and never followed through. I would diet for a week or two. When I did not see immediate results, I would quit. With diet and weight loss you must have a bit of patience. The body has to get used to your new program also. I saw results after two to three months of consistent exercise and diet. It felt as though I was never going to lose any weight. This time, as I had gone into the third month, the weight began to come off. I was so happy to see results that I stuck to the diet and continued to work out.”
“You must make a commitment to yourself to change your life. I was sick and tired of the way I looked and the way I felt. Also, the way the weight was making me feel so depressed was serving me no purpose anymore. Before, it was my excuse. But this time I knew I didn’t want to feel that way anymore. The commitment is a big one, but there are so many gratifying feelings out of weight loss for me.”
“I was determined to change my lifestyle, work toward a better diet and to exercise every day. I showed up and worked out hard three days per week. It was exhausting, and I was very sore for the first two months. But by the third month, I started to see some weight loss. It was so exciting! I continued to work hard and stick to a strict diet, which was also very difficult at first. I stuck to a low-fat, low-salt diet, and began cutting out sugary drinks and really eating clean. It was very difficult at first, but it started to become easier as the months went on.” The hardest beverage for Melissa to give up was soda. She lived on it. She gradually started cutting out one soda a day at a time, then another, then another until finally, they were gone!
Melissa also had to make the hard decision to change her circle of friends. If she was to stay committed to her new, healthy regime, then she also had to substitute her going out and partying with her friends with a more like-minded group. Today, everyone knows Melissa at her gym, and she is an inspiration to so many.
“I continued to diet every day and incorporate a lot of tuna, fruits, and veggies into my diet. I drank lots of water, and Crystal Lite is good for some flavor. I also cut my portions to normal-size servings. I also have healthy snacks in between and just stick to a great, healthy diet. It’s working! Once I got myself in a good, healthy workout condition, I pumped up my exercise to five days per week; Monday through Friday. The pounds were just falling off. I take off on the weekends so that my body has time to rest and recover. I look forward to those days and so does my body.”
Here is a summary of Melissa’s first year of hard work and dedication: 2 months - 20 pounds; 6 months - 35 pounds; 8 months - 45 pounds; 10 months - 55 pounds; Today: down 75 pounds
“One year ago, I was 240 pounds and now I am 165 pounds, down seventy-five pounds, and still going strong! I’m not done yet. My ultimate goal is 155 pounds. I feel as though this is a good weight for my five-foot frame. I want to keep a nice, healthy, shapely figure and be tight and fit. I’ve started strength training and weightlifting to keep my body toned as I lose the weight, and which I recommend to all who lose weight. This will be the best body for me.
“I feel like a whole new woman and would never go back to the old lifestyle that I had become accustomed to for so long. I have so much more energy and spunk. It’s like a flower that’s back to life blooming- bright and so alive. My life now is so much better, and my family is beyond happy to see I’m making an effort toward good, healthy living and making better choices for what I plan on being a good, long future. It’s been a blessing, and I feel so honored to be able to tell my weight-loss story to anyone and everyone who would like to listen or would like to change their lives. I want to be a fitness motivator or trainer in the near future. But for now, I take this one-day at a time, and stick to a strict diet with one ‘cheat meal’ a week.” Her favorite cheat meal is pizza!
“I now work out two times a day, morning and an evening workout for two hours each outing. It is something that I feel I need to do to achieve my goal. However, you can achieve great results by exercising one hour a day and sticking to a diet program. I have about ten more pounds to go. At that time I will continue on to a regular, exercise program at three to four times a week.”
“I am a little obsessive with fitness, I admit. But, I will tone it down a bit. Let’s just say it has become something that I love to do. I think about what I’m going to eat every day so that I do not fail. Every day when I awake, I pray that God would help take the obsession of my bad eating habits today. I try to plan out how I will work my program so that I have a focus on the goals that I’m trying to achieve. The fact that I have quite a bit of time to exercise is a blessing. However, you can achieve your goals by sticking to a diet plan and moderate and consistent exercise as much as you can and as often as you can. If you are consistent in those to areas, you will see results. Weight loss starts in the mind. The body will follow with regular exercise and a diet plan.”
“I love it so much. I eat, think, breathe and sleep all about it! Lastly, I make all different kinds of healthy shakes with protein, vitamins, and calcium, and get regular check-ups with my physician to be sure my health stays in order, and I can be informed of any health condition that may occur right away.”
“I do plan on sticking to the same diet that I have incorporated in my life now. It’s now just what I do. At the age of forty-six, eating lean is the only way that I see to live a long, healthy life. It has been the best choice I have made in and for my life. I have never felt better about myself. I do not feel that feeling of despair and hopelessness anymore. My health is back in order. I have been taken off of the cholesterol medications. The majority of the health issues previously stated have been relieved and I feel great due to being in so much better health. The weight-induced depression that I had has subsided. It has brought a lot of life back into my heart, and I have a much better self-image of myself. I use some of that extra, monthly money that I used to spend on medications to treat myself to something. My attitude about everything has changed. I smile every day and feel that I’ve been given a second chance at life.”
“So if you commit to weight loss, it works. I said a prayer to God to please change my thoughts about food. I began to shop healthier and leaner. If you stick to the diet and exercise, you too will see results and be able to change your life. I tell my story as much as I can with the hope that I can help motivate and inspire others about their own weight loss. It is possible to lose the weight. Once you begin, it will be something that you never want to end.”
“If you are brand-new to eating well and fitness, pray for motivation and commitment. If you have to pull out some pictures of yourself when you were thinner or a picture of focus that reminds you of the reason that you want the weight off, then by all means do so. I love everything about what I do, and would love to help others to get fit, change their diets and live a good, long, healthy and happy life for themselves and for their families.”
You can contact Melissa at: www.facebook.com.melissa.hart.5249; www.facebook.com.Hart to Heart Keepin It Real Fitness and Nutrition; and Hartmelissa36810@gmail.com
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Mary N. Nearpass has been working in the healthcare field most of her career: from hospital administration, to consulting and teaching college, to currently providing motivational speaking, to working in a physician’s practice and freelance writing.