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In high school I hit 200 pounds. I was not all that active and I certainly didn’t watch what I ate besides watching it go from the plate to my mouth and honestly, half the time it wasn’t even on the plate; it went straight from the pan to my mouth. I don’t care what anyone says, no matter how many years go by, you always remember what happened in high school and whether good or bad, those years do impact your life in different ways. For me, being moo’d and oinked at in the halls was not all that enjoyable. Now, I am not trying to make you feel bad for me, those moo’s and oinks are partially to credit for making me the determined woman I have turned out to be.

In college I was introduced to a friend who was “Mr. Fitness”. He was an inspiration to me to get fit. Simultaneously I received a flyer in the mail to do a triathlon with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of MA. I thought to myself, “hey why the heck not?! It’s for a great cause and I can do anything I want right?!” (Mind you, I was 200 pounds). It didn’t stop me; I trained and finished an Olympic size triathlon (1.5 km swim, 40 km ride, 10 km run) and I was HOOKED on fitness!

Throughout the next 8 or so years, I have run and completed 7 marathons and sprinkled a few shorter triathlons in there too. Boston was my first marathon (2003) that I ever ran and I ran it with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as well. I finished in 4 hours and 44 minutes if my memory serves me correctly and I was in a wheel chair for a few days after due to poor training and being slightly under 200 pounds, but none-the-less I loved it!

In 2008 I ran the Baystate Marathon (my 5th marathon) and FINALLY got a qualifying time (3 hours and 32 minutes I believe) to run Boston as an official qualifier. This was a BIG DEAL! I started my training that winter for the April 2009 Boston Marathon.

Then it all changed…

Amidst this training in the snow, I woke up one day with two numb feet. Thinking it was related to the training I didn’t think much of it, but when it didn’t go away I knew I had to see a doctor. My primary care physician said I was healthy and “it will go away”. I rebutted (because let’s face it, you have got to be your own advocate these days) and said, “no, I want to see a Neurologist. Give me a referral please and thank you.”

Two MRI’s later and a visit with the Neurologist gave me the answer I never ever would have suspected…ever. Verdict: Multiple Sclerosis diagnosed at the age of 28 (2 weeks before my 29th birthday). After a few days of being inpatient to solidify the diagnosis and the doctor telling me that he was “stunned I could even walk” given the amount of lesions on my spinal cord and brain, I asked the doctor…well told the doctor that I would still be running the Boston Marathon in April, so nothing he said to me was going to stop that from happening.
I did. I ran it and finished in under 4 hours…woot woot! I was also graduating with my MBA that year, marrying my best friend and we ended up getting pregnant right after our wedding, so all in all, 2009 was the BEST year of my life regardless of my diagnosis. And you know what? It was a BIG wake up call to tell me that I, Melissa, am not in control. God has a plan for my life and it is up to me to “keep on keeping on” and to move forward despite this “setback”. Oh yeah…and by this time in 2009 I was down to 133 pounds at my wedding, but as I mentioned….I was blessed to get pregnant right after our wedding.

I ALWAYS thought that I would have control over my weight when I was pregnant. (I forgot to mention that in 2008, I was certified as a Personal Trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).) Of course, I’d have my weight under control right; I was a personal trainer for goodness sakes!? Not so much!

I went to the gym at LEAST 5 days a week EVERY week of my 41 week pregnancy. However, I didn’t count a single solitary calorie the entire 41 weeks. Some people say, “well you were pregnant so it’s ok.” And I thought to myself “you know what, you’re right. I’ve been counting calories for years and I just want this time to enjoy not having to count for once!” BIG mistake. I gained each and every pound I had lost from 8 years prior. I weighed in at 203 the day I went into labor (and yes, I’m a freak and I weighed myself when I went into labor.)

For some people, nursing takes the weight off faster, but for me (Ms. Barely Produce Anything For 13 Long Long Months) could not exercise because every single time I would, my very lacking supply would plummet. I decided that (for me) nursing/pumping was more important than my weight (for that 13 months). I stopped nursing in August 2011.

So, the day I gave birth to my little love bug I was 203. After the new year in 2012 I made a commitment to do Insanity! I LOVED IT!!!!!! I counted calories and finished the program! I then started Shakeology and could not be HAPPIER with how I felt and continue to feel! I have more energy than I have ever had, even before I got married. I think more clearly. I am stronger inside and out. It is amazing and given that I have MS I am very careful about what I put in my body! I am now down to my goal weight and am 75 pounds lighter and the best part is…I FEEL better! I want to help you feel this too… your destination is YOU and I will do everything in my power to help you get there!

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