We deal with a lot of really tough issues on Extreme Weight Loss, and last night’s episode with Melissa was no exception. After losing her husband Mike to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Melissa had to pick up the pieces and continue to raise their 4 kids alone. Talk about a real rock star – Melissa is one indeed. She not only carried a heavy load of raising a family, but she also managed to pay it forward along the way, something you didn’t get to see on camera! Melissa has become her community go-to for fitness, nutrition, and overall healthy living tips, and let’s not forget, thanks to her, I was able to unexpectedly deal with the pain of my father’s passing. Having Melissa’s support during this time was something I will forever be thankful for. Funny how the teacher becomes the student, huh?
The journey with Melissa was full of ups and downs, good and bad. This was the first time for me to take the reins from Chris and step up to really take charge, which was both scary and amazing. Working with Melissa (and swapping motherhood tips!) was a true honor. Time for the good stuff…words straight from Melissa’s mouth!
Heidi: Mama Melissa! What was your favorite part about being on the show?
Melissa: My favorite part of being on the show is that I got to be a hero to my boys. And that I got my life back. My youngest son Cody said I found my smile, which is priceless! And now that I’ve lost my weight, Eli, my 16 year old, isn’t embarrassed to be seen with me anymore. He takes me cruising in his car and we listen to his stereo!
H: I love those boys. You’ve raised them well. I’m curious to know what you feel was the hardest part of this last year.
M: The hardest part for me was being away from my kids. I missed them so much! I was so worried that something bad would happen while I was gone and that I would lose someone else I loved. But we all grew from the experience. My son Cody, who has a terrible fear of losing me, realized that I was coming back. We made it through the year, and it was extremely hard, but doing the show really added to our quality of life!
H: Boy, you did a great job handling everything! You’ve been through a lot in your life. What is the biggest lesson you learned this past year?
M: Since Mike passed, I have been through some really hard times. Today I feel like I have been able to close that “GUILT” chapter of my life, and I am able to let things go and have faith. Just because I lost him doesn’t mean I am going to lose everyone else I love. A year ago I hated walking in “my shoes,” but today I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I love walking in “my shoes” now.
H: Do you have any advice for anyone going through similar battles like you’ve endured with Mike?
M: My advice to anyone going through what I did is don’t accept an “I’m fine” when you ask your loved one, who is suffering from PTSD, how they are doing. Push for treatment, push for support, and take care of yourself too. Realize that there is help out there, hang in there, and ask for help.
H: So, what’s next for Melissa? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
M: In 5 years I would like to be an addictions counselor. I want to help people understand their addiction to food. I also see myself leading a healthy lifestyle and enjoying every minute of my life.
H: Everyone wants to know what your favorite exercise is and why.
M: My favorite exercise is my ab workouts because before my journey started, I had had 6 stomach surgeries and could not do one sit-up, and now I can do them by the hundreds!
H: Amen! Do you have a favorite recipe or healthy snack you could share?
M: My favorite healthy snack is my MIO-popsicles. I LIVE on these! They are so refreshing after a hard workout.
H: Wow – that’s such a good idea! Love it! I might steal it. 😉 Now for my fave question: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Chris?
M: The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Chris is Dad. I had a very tumultuous relationship with my dad. He didn’t like me much. I always tried to get his approval, but he didn’t give it to me. He started a new family and forgot about me. Chris’ approval means EVERYTHING to me. I know he works with thousands of people, and I have been blessed to be one of them. I just want him to know that I may not be his favorite, but he is mine. Now the first thing that comes to mind about you is Wonder Woman! I do not know how you do it! I am a multi-tasker, and I thought I was good at it, but you put me to shame. When I talk to you, I know it is coming from the heart. Getting to know you this year has been a blessing in so many ways. You went to bat for me – how can you ever thank someone for helping you become your children’s hero?
H: Melissa, I love you. Thank you. Now for everyone else’s fave question. What is something you know about me and Chris that you don’t think very many people would know?
M: I think the thing that people would be surprised to learn about you two is that Chris is very cerebral, and you can be very vulnerable. First, Chris. I come from a family of very educated people. When you start talking with Chris, he blows you away with the amount of knowledge he has in that handsome head! I don’t think I have ever met anyone who knows so much about so much. He is so well-rounded, and almost nerdy in his amount of knowledge. It makes me love him even more. Now, to you. I saw what it did to you when you were being judged after having Ruby. People were judging your parenting, your lifestyle, and your body. I remember having a heart-to-heart with you, and you were hurt by the negative comments, which were totally unfounded, by the way. I wanted to single out everyone of those people who had a negative comment and beat the s&*t out of them. You help people save their lives, and nothing is more honorable than that.
There are so many facets to my experience this year that I could write a book. But to sum it up, with your and Chris’ help, I was able to turn a horrific tragedy into a beautiful victory.
H: How can I not respond to that answer? Melissa, I can’t tell you how much I appreciated your support throughout the year. I am human and have feelings, but I do try my hardest to not let stuff get to me. I try to remember something that I know you always keep in mind too: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” Mama Melissa, you are one strong woman! Love you!