From a junk food addict to a healthy mum, Melissa James spills what led up to her incredible weight loss.
Before her incredible weight loss journey, life for Melissa James was very different. Instead of being mindful about what she was putting into her body, she consumed the easiest options and never exercised.
“I ate to satisfy my sweet tooth, so my sugar intake was extremely high. In fact, I rarely drank water. Instead I would drink two litres of coke a day, and snack on chocolate and lollies or chips – whatever was convenient,” she explained.
To Melissa, opening a pack of chips or M&M’s was easier than trying to battle her cravings.
“I rarely ate fruit or vegetables. I’d always been a very plain eater, so healthy food never interested me.”
With her eating habits out of control and the lack of healthy food in her diet, the mother-of-two often felt sluggish.
“I did no exercise at all. With all the sugar and junk food I was eating, I was of course very lethargic, so I spent a lot of time on the couch.”
Her weight gain was prompted by the unhealthy routines she had formed over the years.
“When I got a car, I would drive to Maccas with my friends. It was sociable and I don’t think we realised at the time how those behaviors would quickly add up.”
By the time she was married and welcomed her first baby, Melissa became comfortable with her sedentary lifestyle. Her heaviest weight was 96.7kg.
“I felt I had other priorities with working full time and looking after the children than to focus on my own health,” she claimed.
But after seeing photos of herself at her niece’s christening on social media – where she hardly recognized herself – she was ready to commit to a healthier lifestyle.
“I couldn’t believe how much weight I’d gained without even realising it. I knew that if I didn’t do something then, I’d end up twice that size.”
She eventually joined WW (the new Weight Watchers) because “it felt like the only program [she] could sustain.”
“I’d done a lot of weight loss programs in the past that I’d never managed to stick to like shakes or plans that made me eat things that I really didn’t enjoy,” she told body+soul. “With WW, it was focused on healthier choices but you didn’t have to completely eliminate any food or drink, and you had the freedom to choose what you wanted to eat, so it felt more realistic for the long term.”
Without having to completely neglect her sweet tooth cravings, Melissa began her weight loss journey that would change her whole life for the better.
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Her current diet
Melissa has dived straight into the WW program, and currently enjoys a maintainable lifestyle where she is treating her body to the right nutrients and doesn’t feel deprived.
To fully reach her results, one of the biggest changes she had to undertake was cutting down the amount of coke she was drinking.
“I started drinking water when I was thirsty instead, and though I experienced headaches from the withdrawal of sugar and caffeine initially, they stopped after a week,” she said.
She now also plans ahead for the week so she is prepared with the healthiest options.
“In the beginning, every Sunday I would scroll through the WW app for recipes and plan my week in advance with dishes I knew I liked and could look forward to such as steak and salad. I’d do all of my shopping that day and relax for the rest of the week knowing everything was sorted.”
By following her own customized meal plan, she finds it easy to control what she is consuming and even has spare calories to treat herself on occasion.
“You also get weekly rollover Points which I saved up for treats at the weekend so I could still join in at social occasions, or enjoy a Friday night takeaway. I think this was key to my success because I knew that completely depriving myself or saying no at events was just unrealistic,” she explained.
With these minor adjustment, Melissa now enjoys a healthier lifestyle where she is eating more wholefoods and maintains a balanced diet.
She has lost an incredible 41.7kg since she joined the program two years ago, going from 96.7kg and to 55kg.
A day on a plate
Breakfast: Toast and scrambled eggs or weetbix and fruit.
Snack: Apple, grapes or watermelon.
Lunch: Ham salad sandwich or wrap. Or a ZeroPoint soup for lunch.
Snack: Carrot and celery sticks or sakata crackers.
Dinner: Some sort of protein and veg like steak and salad or a stir fry. I also still enjoy pasta occasionally.
Her exercise routine
When she first joined WW, Melissa also joined her local gym. Over time, she went from walking on the treadmill to using the exercise bike and joining group classes like body pump and boxing.
“These days, 41.7kg lighter and with 10 times more energy, I wake up at 5am and complete a 45 minute circuit training session 6 days a week before work.”
Advice to others
Despite the challenges along the way, Melissa has stayed on track by changing her relationship with food.
She admits that it does get difficult sometimes, but to her moderation is key. Since her incredible weight loss she says that she has gained more confidence than ever before.
“Since losing weight, I’ve even taken on a new job as a sales rep, which I never would have had the confidence to do before.”
Her biggest takeaway is that “tt’s so important to find a program that fits your lifestyle and enables you to eat food you enjoy.”‘
Melissa has three main tips:
1. Don’t deprive yourself of food you love because it won’t be sustainable in the long term. Enjoy everything in moderation.
2. Celebrate both the big and little wins. Even if your weight loss is slow some weeks, it all adds up, so see it as a lifestyle change, not a race.
3. Track your progress with photos if this helps you.