Melissa Howell expected to lose weight when she joined Precision Nutrition Coaching. And she did lose — an impressive 55 pounds — just in time for her wedding.
But what she didn’t expect were the gains: confidence, deeper self-awareness, and a whole new identity as a fit and healthy person. (She also gained $10,000 as a Precision Nutrition Coaching finalist.)
Lost 55 lbs and 16% body fat!
- Age: 32 years
- Weight Lost: 55 lbs (from 231 lbs to 176 lbs)
- % Body Fat Lost: 16% (from 34% to 18%)
- Total Inches Lost: 38 inches (from 242 inches to 204 inches)
“I was a loser,” says Melissa Howell. “No really. I was.”
A loser? That’s tough to believe of a former Division One basketball player and graduate of San Francisco’s prestigious Academy of Art University.
“Okay, so I was a winner in love,” she concedes. After all, she’d had the luck to find (and the good sense to choose) a guy who understood her and who loved her for the person she was.
There was just one little problem. She didn’t love herself.
Not only that, but the universe didn’t seem to like her all that well, either.
Take her professional life. Despite having considerable artistic skill and a fancy degree to prove it, Melissa had searched for almost a year before she’d been able to find a job in her field.
“And what was I doing? I was designing kitsch. Resin figurines including wiener dogs in goofy outfits, snow globes, and magnetic salt-and-pepper shakers. I wasn’t being paid much and it was soul-sucking work.”
That wasn’t all. She was also overweight.
Actually, it was worse than that. She was almost officially obese.
It hadn’t always been this way.
Once, Melissa had been lean and fit. She could clean 150 pounds and run up and down a basketball court for hours.
Now, at age 31, she could barely finish a mile in 10 minutes.
Yet she felt powerless to do anything about it.
“I had tried going to the gym,” she says. “My guy and I would go on some treadmills next to each other and start jogging. We would do that for about a half hour and then leave. Not very motivating.”
So they took up Muay Thai at a place nearby her work. The classes were fun, and Melissa felt a little better about herself. Just putting in some effort felt like progress. Still, the numbers on the scale weren’t improving a whole lot.
And sometimes she wondered if things would ever change.
Was this it? Was this the best she could expect of life?
Then, one miraculous week in June of 2011, her fortunes shifted.
First, on a tip from a friend, Melissa applied for and landed a much better (and better-paying) job. The company, called Playdom, creates those addictive little social media games that alleviate boredom during long workdays.
Yes, she’d still be designing kitsch. But now she’d be working digitally. She could be a bit more creative. There was room for upward movement in the company. And the perks were great — free passes to Disney.
Her dog days were over. Things were looking up.
She started work on a Monday. Then, on Wednesday, she noticed an email from Precision Nutrition, inviting her to join the Precision Nutrition Coaching presale list.
Melissa wasn’t a newcomer to PN; back in 2007, she’d actually bought a copy of the PN System. She had even signed up for Precision Nutrition Coaching in 2008.
But at the time — still a student, with a part-time job and other responsibilities as well as a thesis to complete — she wasn’t really in a position to follow through. The book had gathered dust on her shelf, and she’d withdrawn from the program because she felt she couldn’t afford it.
Now, with this new job, she had the money, she realized. Her financial position didn’t have to hold her back.
She also had an important motivation. Because on Friday of that fateful week, following a dinner at their favorite restaurant, Melissa’s boyfriend, Derek, asked her to marry him.
Right there, next to their table, he got down on his knee and proposed.
The waiters brought champagne and snapped photos. Later, looking at those pictures, Melissa realized that her image wasn’t a match for the way she was feeling inside.
And she knew the time had come to commit to Precision Nutrition Coaching. By her wedding day, she wanted to look like the happy person she was starting to become.
“Have an important why.”
That’s what Melissa advises now. It’s one reason she believes she was successful in the program.
“Have your reason. Keep your goal in mind. Don’t lose sight of it,” she says. “The whole time, I had this image of myself on my wedding day in my head, walking tall, feeling amazing — feeling statuesque instead of soft around the edges.”
But, as much as she focused on outward changes in the beginning — losing enough weight and getting fit enough to look fantastic for her wedding day — it wasn’t long before she realized that her coaching journey would be about a whole lot more than that.
“I feel like I’m making better decisions,” she mused in her journal, a mere one month into the program. “I have enough energy to conquer the world.”
She was juggling a lot — new job, new living arrangements, wedding plans, new nutrition and exercise routines. Yet instead of buckling under the strain as she might have done in the past, instead of over-eating to cope, she was stretching herself to meet these new challenges.
“It’s not just about what you see in the mirror, it’s what you feel inside,” she says.
And what she felt inside was enthusiastic, determined, hopeful — and proud. Proud of her effort. Proud of her results. It had been a long time since she’d felt like that.
Six months into Precision Nutrition Coaching and Melissa had lost a respectable 33 pounds.
She celebrated by shopping for her wedding gown. The outing turned out to be a lot more fun than she’d anticipated. When the fourth dress she tried fit perfectly and looked amazing, she knew it was “the one.”
By April, she was down 51 pounds, and it was obvious that the dress would have to be taken in a couple of inches along the sides.
Not only that, but she’d lost a full ring size. Her engagement ring would have to be resized.
Luckily, there was still plenty of time to make those changes. Looking at her progress photos, Melissa could hardly believe her eyes.
What had made this possible?
It wasn’t the exercise — although the exercise was great. It made her endorphins sing and helped her mood and energy levels.
But more than that, Melissa knew, Precision Nutrition Coaching had changed her relationship to food.
“Food used to be a comfort. I used to stuff my face to feel good about myself, or sometimes to make me feel worse.”
Listen to that: To make me feel worse.
To make me feel worse?
Melissa had been using food to confirm her negative opinion of herself.
But now, she felt good about herself. Her need to comfort herself and punish herself with food had disappeared.
“Now I see food for what it is: fuel for my body. And since I have an athletic body again, now I need to give it the proper fuel to keep it running smoothly. I no longer enjoy fast food. Just the smell of it makes me ill. I crave broccoli.”
“I never thought I’d be proud to be a health nut,” she says. “But I am.”
What’s more, she had learned that even self-confessed health nuts can enjoy the occasional indulgence.
Now, thanks to Precision Nutrition Coaching, she could eat her chosen treats without guilt, without remorse.
“I can be done at one cookie instead of at four, and guess what, I can be fine without one!” she wrote.
“There’s no need for me to have a dessert after every meal. Life is my dessert!”
New goals and values.
By May, 2011, not only had Melissa lost a lot of weight, but she’d also done a lot of thinking about her goals and values.
It surprised her how deep into her head some of the lessons got.
“I used to be an athlete and all my screen names reflected that,” she said. “AirKochie, MelHoops. That kind of thing.”
“Then in recent years, I focused more and more on my art and my names became Artist Channeling the Muse, MelissaKochArt, MeliArt.”
Through Precision Nutrition Coaching, she had regained her inner athlete. But what amazed her more was the way the program had affirmed her identity as an artist.
“Dammit, I’m going to clean off my drawing table at home and start working on my own artwork again! Why? Because the LE lessons showed me that it would be good for my soul.”
She’d come to recognize that she was an athlete and an artist. Not one or the other, but both. As a result, Melissa undertook the unusual step of changing her screen name to reflect her new sense of herself: Arthlete.
And in designing a logo for her Precision Nutrition Coaching team, she cemented that identity.
“It seems only appropriate as this round of coaching draws to a close,” she wrote. “I’m full of trepidation, wondering what tomorrow will bring when I don’t have to log in, record my measurements or get that check mark.”
“But I will continue to get those check-marks in my mind,” she went on. “Every time I turn down a donut or scone and eat a handful of veggies. Every time I step away from the table satisfied but not full, and every time I give it my all in the gym.”
“Life is good, life is awesome. And now so am I!”
From loser to winner
Today, Melissa is worlds away from the angry and frustrated person she was when she began the program.
“Now I’m confident. I enjoy movement. I love good, clean, whole food. I enjoy cooking and clothes shopping,” she says.
She’s also paying it forward, serving as a valued mentor for a new cohort of Precision Nutrition Coaching clients, and studying for her PN Certification.
“I plan to start some sort of fitness program here at my office (there’s a gym in the building) and perhaps take on some private clients as well,” she says.
It’s always good to have an end to journey toward, but it’s the journey that matters, in the end, Melissa wrote in her journal, quoting the writer, Ursula K. LeGuin.
Freshly home from her honeymoon, she cracks an enormous smile.
“And this journey has certainly mattered.”
Want help finally getting the healthy, energetic body you’re after?
Most people know that regular movement, eating well, sleep, and stress management are important for looking and feeling better. Yet they need help applying that knowledge in the context of their busy, sometimes stressful lives.
That’s why we work closely with Precision Nutrition Coaching clients to help them lose fat, get stronger, and improve their health…no matter what challenges they’re dealing with.
Interested in Precision Nutrition Coaching? Join the presale list; you’ll save up to 54% and secure a spot 24 hours early.
We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Coaching on Wednesday, January 17th, 2024.
If you’re interested in coaching and want to find out more, I’d encourage you to join our presale list below. Being on the list gives you two special advantages.
- You’ll pay less than everyone else. At Precision Nutrition we like to reward the most interested and motivated people because they always make the best clients. Join the presale list and you’ll save up to 54% off the general public price, which is the lowest price we’ve ever offered.
- You’re more likely to get a spot. To give clients the personal care and attention they deserve, we only open up the program twice a year. Last time we opened registration, we sold out within minutes. By joining the presale list you’ll get the opportunity to register 24 hours before everyone else, increasing your chances of getting in.
If you’re ready to change your body, and your life, with help from the world’s best coaches, this is your chance.
[Note: If your health and fitness are already sorted out, but you’re interested in helping others, check out our Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification program].