01 Jul Highway To Well Winner: Melissa Johns
Highway to Well is both a personal journey to finding your inner balanced badass as well as a chance for us to support & celebrate each other and share our tales from the road. Today, we're proud to highlight Melissa Johns' inspiring journey as she learned to love her body, conquered her fear of cooking, and embraced the POUND community with open arms.
Melissa grew up on the Welsh border and moved to London when she was accepted into drama school where she’s studying to become an actor and determined to change the way that disability is seen on our screens and stages. Highway to Well came at a time where Melissa knew she needed to make a change in her thinking and she was intrigued by the support network offered by the challenge. She was an avid gym-goer and enjoyed exercise but was increasingly self-conscious about what others thought of her arm in the gym setting.
“At nearly 26 years old, I knew I needed to start changing the way I saw my body as it was having a huge negative impact on my life. I was fed up with carrying cardigans, wearing jumpers in the summer, or never giving it my all in classes or at the gym because I wanted to hide my arm as much as possible. I loved that Highway To Well was going to be about gaining confidence and balance and building a community. Not just getting a nice body for the summer.”
Over the last 30 days, Melissa has shared her journey with the POUND community and offered support to her peers, but also has unknowingly been a source of inspiration to so many people.
“I gained the confidence to share what I was doing and have had lots of people saying that they were inspired to get involved. They said that they started to think, “What was holding them back? If Melissa can hold a plank and strap Ripstix to her right arm for a POUND workout, what's stopping me?” To hear that felt absolutely amazing.”
Day 26 of #highwaytowell @poundfit I used to hate getting to the gym and having to ask a complete stranger in the changing room to tie my hair up for me but now I get excited! It's actually really lovely connecting with a complete stranger like that and I get to make a new friend every time ☺️ - This week is about balance and even though I've been crazy busy I'm so glad I've found the time to fit in my pound workouts, go to the gym and do my #mixtapemeals Because actually... It makes me so bloomin happy! I could cry with joy at how my body's changing and how much i'm learning to love it... And the buzz I get from not caring about who stares at my arm in the gym because actually I feel pretty freakin badass lifting those weights 💪 😂 Can't believe #week4 is nearly over! I'm still as excited as I was 4 weeks ago!! #poundtour #innerbadass #makenoise #poundfit #poundrocks #fitness #health #buildingstrength #onearm #onearmworkouts #lovetheskinyourein #iwannaseeyoubebrave #showmehowbigyourbraveis #gym #befit #lovingit #like4like #instagood #love #follow
Best of all, her personal takeaways from the journey are profound. Using Mixtape Meals, Melissa conquered her fear in the kitchen.
“I can't tell you how amazing it felt to cook that first Mixtape Meal. I know it sounds silly, but just standing there, stirring the spiralized vegetables and throwing in pre-chopped vegetables and pre-cooked prawns made me feel like a right little Gordon Ramsay. I love the variety of Mixtape Meals. It makes me feel so much less scared of cooking.”
Between the mini-workouts and nutrition, Melissa’s confidence grew. She made a point to focus on her posture as to not hold tension in her shoulders… something we all struggle to remember! Most importantly, Melissa learned to love her body.
“This is definitely my biggest growth… Over the last five years, I found myself envying the way other girls looked [more than ever]. I would walk past people in the street and imagine how amazing it would be to have a body like them, two arms like them and to look like them. To me, every girl I saw was this beautiful glistening little gem... And then there was me. Not beautiful and not glistening. And more of grey pebble than a gem.
But Highway To Well has made me feel like an absolute rockstar! It's allowed me to embrace being different. Seeing myself as actually pretty badass has made me feel amazing. Lifting weights in the gym and seeing people stare but realizing that it's been because they are interested and inspired rather than being nasty or judging me. And finally taking pictures with my right arm being visible. This is something I have never been able to do, and now I genuinely feel like, “Why did I waste all that time not showing off how different I am?” When I was little my nan used to say, “Why do you want two arms that are the same? That's just boring. And you're not boring.” Thank you POUND for really showing me that her words were so true.”
Day 31 of #highwaytowell @poundfit THE FINAL DAY! And just like the picture in the top left, I am feeling on top of the freakin world! I can't put into words how amazing this #poundtour has been and the amount that I have learned! Workouts, mixtape meals, balancing life, the amazing support from beautiful strangers and most importantly loving the skin i'm in and giving my body the respect it deserves through exercise and nutrition! During this holiday to New York I haven't taken a jumper out with me once to cover my arm. And it feels so freakin good! Pound has allowed me to feel like an absolute rockstar that drums with one arm but makes the sound of two! Thank you @poundfit - I'm so grateful for every lesson you've taught us over the last month. Can't wait to keep spreading the #poundlove and #makingnoise You're all blooming wonderful! ✋💚👊 #poundtour #innerbadass #makenoise #poundfit #fitness #workout #nutrition #health #rockstar #onearm #thisgirlcan #iwannaseeyoubebrave #showmehowbigyourbraveis #changeyourlife #grateful #disabilitypride
It's incredible what a shift in thinking can do to empower your inner badass 😉 Melissa stuck out as a NOISEMAKER early on during Highway To Well. Not only did we see her inspiring posts but we noticed her supportive comments on all of your check ins as well. Melissa went out of her way to make new friends and be a visible part of the community -- and has continued to be. Her spirit and smile made us happy to see each and every check in and her energy permeates through everything she does. Her application brought us to tears and has inspired our whole team. We're so excited to meet her and hang out with her, here at our home in LA.
"I feel that POUND has set me up to achieve incredible things in my personal life as well as my health and fitness. In the last 30 days I have gained so much awareness of my body, about nutrition and being aware of what my body deserves to be eating and drinking. I finally feel like I can wear what I want without being self conscious about being born different. More than that, embracing it and feeling like a bit of a rockstar that can POUND with one arm but make the sound of two. I have made friends and support networks, set up an evening a week with my two best friends called “POUND and peace” where we do half an hour of POUND videos then 30 minutes of mindfulness. I have felt so freakin’ badass that two weeks ago I started to set up my own drama workshops for children and young people. And made sure it's inclusive for anyone with or without disabilities. And most importantly I have been so happy.
The impact that POUND has had on my mental health has been astonishing. You have allowed me to reach a power that I never knew I had, which means I can go out with my boyfriend on a night out WITHOUT a cardigan hiding my arm and when he asks me to dance I say “yes”. And I dance. And I don't care who stares or sniggers because actually—because of you guys—I feel pretty damn untouchable."