Like many young women, Melissa Lloyd’s battle with her weight began in high school. While she had always credited her thin frame to a high metabolism, she noticed a change in her body during her late teens. Due to the financial woes of her family, Melissa began working to help out and along with the long hours of a job and going to college, came the fast and unhealthy food choices.

“I ended up gaining 35 pounds in 1 ½ years,” she says. “I started feeling horrible about myself, and decided that I needed to do something about it.”

It was then that Melissa decided to join the military.

Melissa knew the weight guidelines for the military would force her to lose the extra weight, and she was able to find the motivation and determination to get down to her required weight of 130 pounds. Although she claims she did feel good about the way she looked, Melissa still lacked the connection to her body that was necessary to make the changes stick. “I felt forced to work out,” she claims. “It was very specific what I did, and I was bored with it. I didn’t push myself unless I had to, I didn’t feel like it was necessary. “This lack of discipline only got worse when Melissa became pregnant with her son. She continued to ride the weight roller coaster the entire six years of her military career, gaining weight when she wasn’t monitored and then adhering to strict crash diets to prepare for official weigh ins. Melissa and her husband ended their military careers about six months after the birth of their son in an effort to have a more normal and stable family life.

The couple soon moved to Georgia, Melissa’s husband’s home town. Although surrounded by loved ones, Melissa still struggled to find her identity. “I felt alone,” she says. “I started to get depressed and although I enjoyed the time that I was home with my son, I needed more. I didn’t take the time with him to really enjoy it because I was tired all the time, I was depressed and frumpy feeling. Where had I gone?” Like so many mothers, Melissa put all of her focus on her son and her home; cleaning, cooking and taking care of things. She no longer felt as if she were a priority and so she continued to ignore her fitness and nutritional needs.

Eventually, Melissa went back to work and landed a job working in the occupational health group of her company. She began to gain knowledge about nutrition, exercise and how a lack of both can affect a person both physically and mentally. She began eating healthier, walking and  simply trying to move as much as she could. She did so well in fact that even when Melissa became pregnant with her daughter, she only gained 11 pounds throughout the entire pregnancy. The personal win was short lived however, as the birth of her daughter also brought about post-partum depression. Once again Melissa found herself on a roller coaster of emotions and a battling her weight. She finally enlisted the help of her doctor who prescribed her anti-depressants.

Six months later, Melissa really began to notice a difference. She started going to the gym and taking advantage of the “mommy time” that the gym’s daycare finally provided her. “I shortly realized that I was loving it,” she says. “I could take up to two hours at the gym, and let me tell you I used all of that time almost every day.” Melissa was finally finding a connection to her body through exercise and was even able to wean herself off the prescribed anti-depressants. Unfortunately once again, Melissa’s joy was cut short. This time it was an ACL tear that she suffered in a Zumba class. However, despite the setback, she refused to just give in or give up and worked around her injury. Once she finished her physical therapy sessions she began to work her way back into the gym. She started slowly with classes and cycling and eventually worked her way up to running a 5k. Although she had never run competitively before, she says the race reinvigorated her feelings about exercise.

Melissa’s fitness journey eventually led her to our Skinnymom website where she continued her education in nutrition. She began the Skinnymom weight loss challenge before the Thanksgiving holiday, and finally learned how to fuel her body with exactly what it needs to push through her workouts. Her new found energy allowed Melissa to begin step aerobics and yoga in addition to her regular routine. She now finally feels in control of her body, her mind and her life. Melissa says, “I know that the changes I have made will stick, because if they were changes that I couldn’t live with, I wouldn’t do them. I can live this way every day for the rest of my life, and to be honest, I want to!”