my story


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be?”

-Marianne Williamson

I hold a Bachelor’s degree from Yale University, where I graduated with distinction in my major.  I also have a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.  Over the years my past jobs have included White House Intern for then-Vice President Gore, and legal extern at the Washington State Supreme Court.  I am now an environmental lawyer in Washington State 

Despite accomplishments in these other areas, I struggled with my weight throughout my childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood.  I tried different diets on occasion, but was never able to achieve sustained weight loss. I was on the rowing team in high school and college.  I loved the feeling of being an athlete, but my issues with weight and body image kept me from reaching my full potential in the sport. Over time, my weight continued to climb.

A few years ago I found myself thirty years old, and at a weight that put me in the morbidly obese category.  As a busy lawyer with a demanding job, I told myself I had no time to work out or eat better.  I relied on junk food to get through stress. Exercise was difficult due to my size, and I self-consciously shied away from working out in public.  After years of ignoring cues from my body that something needed to change, I was at once numb, overwhelmed, and uncomfortable in my own skin.

I realized I could give up and accept a likely foreshortened future in an uncomfortable body that did not feel like mine.  Or, I could face the challenge before me.  If a battle with weight was part of my lot in life, I hated the thought of looking back at the end of my life and realizing I had let one of my biggest challenges beat me.   Though I felt like I had tried everything, the one thing I honestly had not tried was sticking long term to truly healthy eating and moving my body more.  I told myself if it were easy for me to live a fit lifestyle, I would have already done it.  I had the difficult, yet simple, choice to do what it took to make a change.  I decided to think of myself as a warrior for myself and the life I wanted.

I started on a pre-packaged meal plan.  I figured that making all of my own food choices had not worked for me.  I hoped just eating the food that was delivered to my doorstep would help me get started.  I had some initial success, but then hit a plateau.  Emotions that I had always buried with food began to surface.  I was not sure what to do.  How would I make this time different than so many other past attempts? 

I sought out additional help.  Through a friend's referral, I found a Utah-based company called The Greater You, Inc.  I met the founder of the company, Kwinten Kemp, a counselor who began holding me accountable to my goals in weekly Skype sessions.  He helped me see that my poor body image and negative self-talk about my weight had led me to making the choices I had made: I had to start thinking like a fit person in order to become one.  I also took some group classes from The Greater You, learning from Kemp and The Greater You, Inc. Coach Erik Chopin.  I found support in those classes from Chopin and others facing significant weight loss challenges. I started to see that I could deal with emotions and stress without turning to food.  I let go of all-or-nothing thinking about my weight, fitness, and eating.  Instead, I began holding myself accountable to making steady progress.  “Progress not perfection” became one of my mantras.

I stopped following the pre-packaged meal plan that had become monotonous, and began trusting myself to eat well and maintain a certain activity level each day.  As I shed weight, exercise became easier.  I took more walks, and began working out on an eliptical machine in my home.  My weight slowly yet steadily dropped.  

In the summer of 2010, about eight months into my journey, I had grown weary of exercising on my own and was bored with my workouts.  Despite remaining self-consciousness, I pushed myself to make another change and joined my local gym.  Although I received a universally friendly welcome, I still felt out of place and out of shape.  Nevertheless, I knew I had to behave like a fit person in order to become one.  So I made my way to the gym.  I am a night person but I began setting my alarm for 4:45 AM and exercising before work so that I had no excuse to skip it. 

I am now well over 100 pounds lighter, and have maintained my weight loss for more than a year.  I have surprisingly come to love exercise.    I have run a 5K and a half marathon for fun, and I continue to pursue fitness goals.  I have a new set of tools that allow me to manage my emotions without turning to food, and these days I am finding more of a comfortable home in my own skin.  

As I discovered my own path to success, I was invited to join The Greater You, Inc. as a coach. I am now certified in helping others master the inner game of fitness and find their own ideal lifestyle.  Developing my own personalized fitness, wellness, and eating program has been key for me.  I believe strongly in dropping the deprivation and “diet” mentality and instead creating a fit lifestyle.  It takes hard work and determination, but it can be done!  

As The Greater You’s Lead Body Appreciation Coach, I have achieved the highest level of training and certification offered by The Greater You. I am also a graduate of Coach U’s Core Essentials Program (CEG). I am a co-author of The Greater You’s fitness and nutrition planning workbook, Create Your Greater You: Design Your Fit Lifestyle.  I am currently in school at The National Personal Training Institute, and am a personal trainer certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. I look forward to meeting you and helping you reach your own goals!   


At my swearing in ceremony when I passed  the bar in 2003

Copyright © 2011 Melissa P. Rourke, LLC.  All rights reserved.