My name is Brianna Mellin (@half_of_bri) and I’m 29. I live in Euless, Texas, and I currently work as a weight-loss counselor. I lost nearly 200 pounds naturally and completely transformed my mental health by making small lifestyle changes that added up *big time.*
I’ve had issues with my body for as long as I can remember. I was the chubby kid in middle school but lost a bit of weight by the time I reached my teen years. I never would’ve described myself as skinny, though.
It wasn’t until I got pregnant years ago that I really started to pack on the pounds. I gained 100 pounds during my first pregnancy and I struggled with postpartum depression after I placed my son up for adoption. The weight gain escalated during that difficult time.
I became morbidly obese over the years but I never realized how much weight I had really gained. I knew I was eating unhealthy foods and snacking a lot but I was in a state of denial about just how much weight I had gained. After I gave birth to my daughter in March 2015, I was in a 3X shirt and a size-24 pant and weighed 350 pounds.
In April of 2017, I decided that enough was enough.
By this point, I had attempted dieting and was trying to lose some baby weight. I did diets like Jenny Craig but gave up as soon as I started. I had also tried exercising a little bit but my efforts didn’t stick.
Eventually, I had a conversation with a friend about getting divorced and getting back into the dating scene. My friend told me that in order to attract a truly healthy relationship, I needed to be healthy mentally, and that they felt as if my weight was reflection of where I was at emotionally in life.
My friend was right about my mental health. I was depressed and it showed in more than just my body. I wanted to be the best I could in all aspects of my life so that I could be a better mother—and hopefully get to a place where I could find a healthy, great relationship, too.
I went into my weight-loss journey with the mindset of: eat less and move more.
I knew that I couldn’t go into my journey on a “diet” or I would give up. So I started by simply making an effort to not finish all the food on my plate. I would then start eating half of my food. I later cut out my fourth and fifth snacks of the day. I stopped mindless TV food bingeing.
I became increasingly aware of the fuel I was putting into my body. Here and there I’d swap my fried chicken for grilled chicken. I also learned about an app called MyFitnessPal and started recording everything I put in my mouth.
At first I was admittedly devastated to see how much I was still overeating, but I quickly learned that if I ate healthy foods, I could eat more in a day. And if I ate junk, my portion size would have to be super limited and I’d feel hungry more frequently.
I kept my calorie count to 1,500 a day—but I never restricted my favorite foods. If I had pizza that day then I simply ate lighter at the rest of my meals. I got to a point where I genuinely wanted to only eat the healthier foods. I noticed a difference in how I felt in my workouts, and my mood was better. Now, I eat my favorite foods once a week and stay consistent with my nutritious diet the other six days of the week.
Here’s what I typically eat in a day now:
- Breakfast: A piece of Dave’s Killer Bread (thin slice), a tablespoon of Crazy Richard’s peanut butter, half of a banana, and Halo Coffee with creamer and Splenda
- Lunch: Chicken salad (rotisserie chicken, lettuce, hard-boiled egg, carrot slivers, red cabbage, bell peppers, Feta cheese, ranch dressing, green grapes)
- Snacks: Mozzarella string cheese, hummus and baby carrots, green tea, and Splenda
- Dinner: Taco soup (I make a batch with a can of kidney beans, one can of black beans, one can of corn, one can of Rotel, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, red onion, green bell pepper, a pound of ground beef, a pack of taco seasoning, and a sprinkle of cheddar)
- Dessert: Halo Top
I had to learn that there is no such thing as good and bad food. It’s okay to say yes to that piece of cake at my friend’s birthday party. There is such thing, however, as healthy and unhealthy relationships with food. I could enjoy a slice of cake and move forward and get right back on track, and not let it derail me from my goals for a full week. It took time to change my mindset, but the more I learned how good healthy food made me feel, it became easier.
I spent so many years stagnant that the idea of exercise was overwhelming. So I kept it simple in the beginning.
I got out of breath going from the couch to the kitchen. My then-husband had to help me put pants on or tie my shoes. So I kept it mellow at first with little activities like parking farther away from the door at Walmart as opposed to trying to get the closest parking space.
I purchased a FitBit and started tracking my steps. At first, the most I was getting was 1,000 to 3,000 steps a day. I was so proud of myself the first time I took 1,000 steps in a day. Eventually, I worked my way up to 10,000 or even more.
When I did my laundry I would take multiple trips from the dryer to the dresser—small things like that. I also started adding walks to my day. I began with 20-minute walks that soon turned into 30-minute walks. And then those 20-minute walks turned into 5ks.
I did eventually get a gym membership and I have started lifting weights.
When I got serious about my weight loss back in April 2017, I was around 300 pounds. To date, I’ve lost a total of 190 pounds.
I want other women to know that it is possible to experience extreme weight loss without having to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for different products or gimmicks. It’s within you—and it’s free.
All it takes is a little self-love, believing you can and believing you will. I can finally say I love myself now, and my mental health has dramatically improved. I don’t feel like a prisoner in my body anymore. I have physical and emotional freedom. I can do things I never thought I’d be able to do ever again, such as go on a roller coaster or fly without needing a seatbelt extender.
I can keep up with my kids without feeling out of breath or having to sit every five minutes. I’m living a whole different life and I am so grateful that I decided to commit to losing weight.
Now I am in a healthy relationship with someone who loves me for me and who loves and adores my kids. I’m glad that I got myself healthy in all aspects of my life and learned to be tender with myself each day as I move forward. My weight loss has been the most empowering thing I have ever accomplished.