Melissa Morley is a 22 year old DCU graduate who woke up one morning after her first summer ball and decided it was time to change. She was overweight and unhappy about her 16-18 dress size. Melissa went on to lose 5 stone, inspiring people everywhere to be fit and healthy.
She began writing a blog documenting her meal plans, exercise regimes and personal account of her journey which is hugely popular, she also has almost 20,000 followers across her social media pages.
Many who wish to lose weight make false promises after false promise about making a change, the Mayo native explains why this time was different for her.
“I was so excited for my first summer ball but I wasn’t able to wear what I wanted and I remember how self conscious I felt around all these amazing slim girls. I came home in tears and something just clicked in my head, no take away or chocolate bar was worth feeling so low about myself.”
She stresses that it was little changes overtime that made the difference:
“It began by changing what I ate for breakfast and snacks and drank more water for the next week. Then after that week I changed what I ate for dinner and lunch, I think the reason why it was different this time was because I took it really slowly and didn’t overwhelm myself, you can’t go from eating whatever you want to just eating chicken and vegetables. Your body won’t have a clue what’s going on.”
“For the first few weeks I was too embarrassed to face the gym, so I just stuck it out with my meal plan and when I got enough confidence I joined the gym at home and in DCU as well as the boxing club for some added push.”
It seems that a common problem among those who want to be more healthy is their lack of knowledge and understanding of healthy foods, portions and exercise steps that make a difference. Melissa feels that this must change in order for Ireland to become a healthier place.
“There needs to be a complete overhaul regarding education in terms of exercise and health. The food pyramid we commonly know has been the same for years and yet each year obesity levels are rising. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there and so many of us are confused as to what’s good and bad.”
She said she also feels comfort eating is a major problem in this country:
“I think we all have our off days, days when we feel anxious or a bit down and it has a ripple effect on our eating habits for that day. My thesis for final year looked at the link between obesity and depression in young adults and it showed that having a bad day or feeling low made people reach for high fatty and sugar foods for that ‘feel good’.”
Melissa is now qualified as a personal trainer which she said was the best part of her journey “starting out obese and finishing with that certificate was amazing and for me it has come full circle.”
Although most fitness journeys are expected to be tough, Melissa’s journey was even more so, considering just how much she has overcome. In May 2015 Melissa’s mother passed away, her ability to continue on her fitness path is a testament to her physical and emotional strength, she remains honest about how difficult this was, which is inspiring in itself. Allowing yourself to access the emotion is important, she says.
“Losing my mother changed my life completely. There are days where I struggle to get out of bed, where I can’t stop the tears, when I have tonnes of emails or work to get done and I feel so overwhelmed and just want a hug from her. Nobody teaches us how to deal with grief, depression or anxiety. I’ve learnt that when you feel down or want to cry, do it. Take some time out, think about why you’re sad and feel the emotion.”
“I remind myself that grief is a passage, it’s ok to break down but just don’t unpack and live there. Other days the gym helps me, it’s a place I can put headphones on and forget the world, it’s a natural anti depressant.”
For student’s feeling inspired by the communications graduate’s dedication and determination, she has advice on how to successful become fit and healthy.
“Meal prep and bulk buy! Tesco, Lidl and Aldi always have great deals on fruit, vegetables and meat so stock up and prepare meals for the week! It saves time and will stop you eating unhealthy and it’s much cheaper then eating from the nubar or spar every day. If you can’t afford the gym use the park or join a club or society that might make you more active, boxing, fencing or even dance.
With simple advice, positive mental attitude and honest information about staying motivated through difficult times, it is no wonder that many people look up to Melissa, and she says she feels blessed to be referred to as a role model
“I try to help as many people as I can -young women especially- reach a normal relationship with their body image so it means a lot to hear such high praise back.”
You can follow Melissa’s blog Morley’s motivation here.