"I reached Goal the week before my 21st”

It took Melissa Malady a few attempts to finally reach Goal and rediscover the benefits of swimming, for body and mind.

Melissa's weight loss story

Name: Melissa malady
Weight loss: 24.7kg
Was: 99.1kg
Now: 74.4kg
Height: 180cm
Age: 32
How long it took: 11 months
How she did it:  Group Coaching at Carrum Downs, Vic, with Coach Jean Baker

Then & Now
Melissa before and after

"The fourth time I joined, my mindset was different. I was going to lose the weight for myself, not for an external event."

Swimming when I was younger 

My parents got me into swimming when I was younger to help with my asthma and my weight. I didn’t really enjoy it at the time, in fact, I hated getting into my cossie and refused to enter any competitions. I swam in a squad on and off for years, but when I was about 16, I told my parents I’d had enough and that I really didn’t want to swim anymore. I only started up again in 2014 when I joined Weight Watchers, and it was then I realised just how fabulous swimming is.

I started Weight Watchers when I was 15

I had joined Weight Watchers four times before. The first time was when I was 15, but I didn’t have the understanding or commitment back then. I joined again at age 20 after someone asked me if I was pregnant! I wasn’t and it was very upsetting to realise people thought I was. What I was, at that time, was completely miserable and really uncomfortable in my own skin.

I reached Goal the week before my 21st

Back then I reached Goal the week before my 21st birthday. Although it was the best gift I could have given myself, it didn’t last. Looking back, I can see that I wasn’t ready for the attention I started getting and I ended up comfort eating. Before I knew it, I’d regained the weight and was devastated. My self-esteem disappeared once more. I felt like a failure. I was so ashamed that I didn’t go out with friends or even to job interviews.

I couldn't keep up with my son

A decade passed and by this time I was a single mum to my son, Jai. Weighing 102.3kg, I lacked energy, and couldn’t keep up with my little boy. He’d ask me to play and run with him, but I just couldn’t do it. So I joined Weight Watchers for the third time but, after losing 5kg, I stopped again. I was stressed and experiencing family problems. In hindsight, I still wasn’t ready to make the changes I had to.

Finally, I re-joined for the fourth – and final time in 2014. I weighed in at 99.1kg and this time around, my mindset was different. I was going to lose the weight for myself – not for an event like a wedding or 21st – this was for me! I set minigoals, with my first aim to lose 5kg, then 2kg, and another 2kg until I’d hit Goal. There was something else I decided to do, too – hit the pool.


Swimming in public

At 99kg, it was terrifying going swimming in public. I’d find a seat closest to the pool ladder so I could get in quickly and wouldn’t have to be exposed for long. Then I’d strip off as fast as possible. The very first time, I closed my eyes as I jumped in, thinking, “I’ve just got to do this.”

Once I started, I realised I loved it. I really enjoyed swimming and there was no way I was going to let my weight get in the way of it. The exercise also helped with my asthma – just as my parents had said – and it also reduced my anxiety levels.

My time out

My trips to the pool became my time out. If I was feeling moody, I’d smash out my emotions in the water. I might’ve jumped into the pool feeling horrible, but by the time I’d get out, I’d feel like a million dollars. I started off swimming 1km ( 20 laps) and it took 45 minutes. Now I’m up to 3.5km in just over an hour and I swim three to four times a week. Eventually, I’d like to try open-water ocean swimming.

"That first time I jumped in the pool I was wearing a size 16 cossie, now im in a size 10".

That first time I jumped in the pool I was wearing a size-16 cossie, and it was tight – really tight. My reward for losing weight was buying a new swimming costume. I ended up having to buy four, because my frame kept shrinking! Now I wear a size 10, but I’ve kept the bathers from my journey as a reminder. I remember the time I first wore the size 10. I was standing in the kids’ pool playing with Jai. I wasn’t wearing a baggy top to hide my body, and I simply felt amazing.

I’m so glad I was raised near beautiful beaches and that my parents gave me the lifelong gift of swimming at an early age. I’ve found my zen, and it’s in the pool. Without that fantastic start to life I don’t know where I’d be now – and I owe that to my parents.

Just stick with it

What I’ve learned from my journey is that Weight Watchers really works, but that sometimes it takes a few goes for it to really stick. Also, you have to be in a good place, emotionally, and to have support around you so you can allow yourself ‘me time’ for meetings and exercise.


How to find your pool cool

When it comes to the pool, my motto is “Fake it ’til you make it”. Here’s how I found my confidence in the water.

  • Even when you don’t feel great, walk into the pool with a smile on your face (because no one else has to know how you really feel at the pool).
  • Own your body and remind yourself you’re here to lose weight and stay fit and healthy.
  • Visit the pool when it’s more likely to be quiet, which is often the case in the middle of the day, Monday to Friday.
  • Pick the slow lane (the lanes are usually labelled) and aim do four laps with a kickboard.
  • Work your way up to 10 laps.
  • Once you’re feeling more confident, start incorporating freestyle into your routine.
  • Next, work your way into the medium lane and then the fast lane, also building up your amount of laps each session.
  • Remember, you can start at any age and you will improve with each swimming session.
  • If you’re new to swimming, keep in mind that adults can take swimming lessons/stroke correction (group and private lessons are available).
  • Also consider trying aqua aerobics, because that can help you feel better in your bathers.