Melissa has struggled with her weight since she was a child, but she has not given up. After a Lap Band, two revisions and a tummy tuck, she has now found her way to success. She went from a size 16 to a zero. Here’s her story of perseverance and how “her outside now matches her inside.”
“I’ve been overweight since I was four years old. In high school, I wore a size 26.” Weight had been an issue for Melissa for as long as she could remember. In 2008, she weighed about 240 pounds and was a single mom with a one year old. “I was miserable. I couldn’t keep up with my son or do the things I wanted to do.” Her sister just had Lap Band surgery and after seeing results, she gifted Melissa a Lap Band as well, wanting her to be healthy and happy.
After getting the Lap Band in 2008, Melissa did see some weight loss. “I named my Lap Band ‘Victoria’ and she became my best friend!” Melissa was down to 170 pounds and doing well. “Then I slowly crept up to about 190 and was a size 12. I was ok with that weight but started having some complications, so came into the Nicholson Clinic for an evaluation.” There was no band slippage or erosion, but she started having some trouble swallowing. “In August 2017, I weighed about 210, took out ‘Victoria’ (my Lap Band) and had a sleeve revision.”
Melissa had a hard time managing her new sleeve. She had her thyroid removed a month after surgery. “I gave up.” She eventually caused a pouch at the bottom of her sleeve, essentially creating a second stomach. Melissa would snack and eventually starting drinking sodas. “I was working at a school dance and the only thing to drink there was soda. This became a slippery slope and before I knew it, I was drinking six to seven cokes per day. I started having bad gastric reflux. It was very painful. I tried to manage it with crushed ice every day to help soothe my esophagus, and I even bought prescription antacid in Mexico. I knew this wasn’t working and needed to go see Dr. Nick.”
When Melissa came in for an evaluation in November 2019, her diagnostic was clear, the acid reflux was a serious issue and the sleeve had to go. “We decided to do a sleeve to bypass revision. Dr. Nick made me set realistic expectations. I was 239 at this doctor visit. We set a goal to lose about 70 pounds, which sounded great. My insurance was approved quickly. I started the pre-op diet on December 14, lost 10 pounds, and had surgery on December 23.”
“I had a great recovery. I was walking the mall in four days. I went back to the Nicholson Clinic for my 10-day post-op. I’ll never forget what Rick, the PA, said to me. He was congratulating me on this quick success and asked about my goal, saying ‘what do you want to be?’ I started telling him how much weight I wanted to lose. He said, ‘forget about the scale, forget about the weight, what SIZE do you want to be?’ I told him I wanted to be a size 10 and wear a size large shirt. He told me I’d be in a bikini by this summer!
Over the next few months the weight was coming off but then Melissa hit a stall, right about the time COVID started. “I work in a school system and right after spring break we never went back to school. No gyms were open, I lost motivation.” Melissa was at 165-167 about this time. It was much better than where she started at 239, she was a size 10-12 and was happy, but still she felt she could do more. “After only three months, at 165 pounds, it was too soon to give up.” I eventually saw Dr. Roshek, who referred me to Dr. Trovato and got a tummy tuck on August 18. “Insurance paid for part of it, the panniculectomy,” the procedure to remove the excess skin tissue from the lower abdomen. “I had to pay for the rest. Which might not seem like a good financial decision for a single mom working for the school district. But, I’ve learned I have to take care of me. I have to do what I need for me.”
“I changed my mindset and started walking and the weight just started dropping off – five, six, seven pounds a week. I was hoping to be a size eight. Then I was a size six. Then a size four, then a size two. My lowest weight was 140 and I’m consistently around 143.”
Update: Since our interview with Melissa, she has dropped another size and one year after her surgery, she is a size zero!
“I dropped from a 10 to a 2 in 3 1/2 months!” What’s her secret to success? Melissa says, it’s about mindset and shares what works for her for diet and exercise. For diet, “if I want something, I take a bite of it, as long as it’s not a no-no, like soda, etc. I decided if I could just have one bite that would be enough. The second bite isn’t worth it. The second bite doesn’t taste as good as the first bite. Anything after that is just food in your mouth. That’s my biggest revelation. Then the next bite needs to be protein.” She says, “the way it feels to be skinny is so much better than the food. The feeling of being skinny is so much more satisfying than any bite of food I can take.”
For exercise, Melissa started walking. “I’m currently walking anywhere from six to 13 miles a day. It depends on my workload. I hit 95,000 steps last week and my goal is to hit 100,000 next week.” For Melissa, it’s the motivation and feedback she gets from others that really help.
“My whole life, I never got any compliments on my weight. Now I love hearing ‘you look amazing! or ‘oh my gosh, how are you losing weight in COVID?’ Never once in my life I thought I would have a single digit pant number. Let alone a size zero!” Melissa is thrilled with the result and happy to have the weight gone for good. “It kept me from doing a lot of things I wanted to do. Now I can be me!”
“I can’t speak highly enough of everyone in the office. From Debbie in the billing department, Melissa at the front desk, to Adam, Rick, Dr. Nick, and Dr. Roshek. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them! I feel like my inside now matches my outside.”
“If I could give anyone advice I’d say, don’t give up. Keep pushing. Even to people in a stall. I was there for three months in a stall. You have to be willing to do what’s necessary. Invest in yourself and do what you need to do for you.”