HEY! Little Debbie……Bite Me!

How To Find The Person Buried Within


Here it is. That one post where I reveal the truths about myself that NO woman ever wants to reveal, my age, weight, and height.  As an artist, I am used to exposing my soul to a gallery wall.  I’ve even exposed my nude self on a gallery wall, but never the dreaded 3 (age, weight, and height).  I’ll get the height out of the way first because it’s the easiest. I am a statuesqe 5′ 10″ tall and 6′ 3″ whenever I wear my Louboutins’.  (The extra 5″ helps when searching for someone in a crowded place). This is the story of my journey and, hopefully, a how-to find yourself again.

Tomorrow I will be 55 years old. That fact is difficult for me to grasp, considering I used to think I would never make it past 21. I’ve made some major changes in my life that make people scratch their heads in disbelief, from a career change to lifestyle changes just to be the person I’ve always wanted to be. Friends have asked me how did I do it. The answer is simple: a mid-life crisis woke me up.

I had this preconceived notion that successful artists were young, skinny artists. Ridiculous, I know, but there it is as if age and weight have anything to do with creativity 🙄.  It just shows you that some of our preconceived notions can be illogical but they are instilled in our psyche nevertheless. I used that silly notion to deter me from becoming the person I always wanted to be and I shut her up with Little Debbie cakes and Diet Dr. Pepper.  Then 5 years ago I realized that I had basically eaten the person I wanted to be and I wanted her back.  My healthy life didn’t happen overnight or in the past year, it’s taken me 5 years to get to where I’m at now… Happy with myself.

I spent 50+ years trying to make others happy, not realizing that the key to happiness is not chocolate, the key lies within the self that was swallowed up by chocolate. For those who are wondering, this is the HOW of my 5-year journey.

Ughhhh!!!! January 2016

Have a friend who is constantly taking pictures of you even when you scream at her to stop.  In 2016 I weighed in at 252 lbs. I had gained 60 pounds over 4 years and was smoking nearly 2 packs of cigarettes a day. Not exactly a healthy lifestyle, but in my mind, I had convinced myself it wasn’t that bad and to quit fat-shaming myself. Then I would see a photo of myself, and even worse, they would tag me on Facebook in the damn photo. My friend’s excuse for taking the pictures was that she wanted to remember me at that moment. (Seriously, she had bought into the whole Kodak moment advertising spiel from the 1960s). However, seeing a photo of myself made me want to rush out and buy a box of Little Debbie cakes and wash them down with a margarita. I would often make faces in the hopes of ruining the photo, which never worked, whee would tag me anyway.

Clean out your plastic ware cabinet.     About a week after my 50th birthday, I organized my cabinet of plastic storage containers. Finding all the lids for different size and shape containers can be an anxiety-inducing task. I was sitting on the floor of my kitchen with my head immersed in a cabinet of plastic; I began feeling slight pangs radiate from the center of my chest up to my left shoulder and I was having about 10-15 every hour. Since it was Memorial Day weekend, I did not want to bother my doctor on a holiday, so I went to lie down and told myself to rest until Tuesday morning. I noticed the pangs increased every time I lit a cigarette, but I still lit the damn cigarette. Then on Tuesday morning at 10 minutes to 8, I threw away all my cigarettes. I didn’t just throw them away; I broke those bitches into tiny little pieces and then threw them away. Then I called my doctor, and he told me to go straight to the emergency room. I slapped a nicotine patch on my arm and hopped in the car. While driving myself to the hospital, I realized the nicotine patch was increasing the pangs in my chest, so I ripped it off and vowed that if I survived this, I would quit smoking for good this time. My heart was good, and it was an anxiety attack I was having, but it scared me enough that I quit smoking without any cessation aides.

Don’t just join a gym, get a trainer. Not smoking for six weeks made me realize that something had to be done to combat more weight gain or I would start smoking again; I had to break up with my drug dealer, Little Debbie, and take my health seriously. So I joined a fitness training program that required me to meet with a trainer every week for 30 minutes to force me to do the exercise. The trainer told me I needed to drink at least 96 oz of water a day instead of Diet Dr. Pepper. Little Debbies and Dr. Pepper, too? Was he kidding me? This getting healthy business was going to suck big time.

I consistently stuck with the program for a year doing the 30 minutes for 1 day a week. My back quit hurting, and I lost 20 pounds in that year. I was handling stress better, and no longer looked at Little Debbie with lust in my heart. I bumped up the exercise for 2 days a week and began occasionally hiking through the woods and cursing at every damn hill I had to climb. Another year later and I was down 15 more pounds. I still despised having my photo taken, but I was learning to tolerate it.

Start doing what you love. At this point on my journey, I began thinking about a career change. Art made me happy, and selling real estate was a job full of chaos and anxiety. There were days I wanted to crawl back into my childhood blanket fort and only play with my Play-doh. Then that bitch Little Debbie started teasing me with her Swedish Rolls and Cosmic Brownies and added 10 pounds to my struggle. I was going down the chocolate slide of despair. I had to say no to the things that added stress and pounds and say yes to what thrilled my soul.

To accompany saying Yes
YES!! The Power of Blue Hair

Make a YES list. I created a list of all the things that I wanted to do but was too afraid of. The first thing I did was dye my hair blue. I thought blue hair was brave and daring, but I had told myself that nobody would buy a house from someone with blue hair. However, loving myself was far more important than real estate and artists may have blue hair. Once I took that step, my artistic self emerged and life coalesced. Then a few months later, I had the joy of driving a McLaren at the Richmond Motor Speedway. (Positively orgasmic). This was the beginning of becoming the person I wanted to be. Some people call it being your authentic self. I believe it’s more a mid-life crisis.

Take the Leap. In December 2019, I parted ways with real estate and became a full-time artist. I was terrified, yet relieved, at the same time. The stress leaving my body felt like 40 pounds sliding off, (felt like it, but in reality, it didn’t). It took a pandemic for me to change .

I live in a rural area where I have to drive 10 miles to hook up with a Little Debbie, so not running into a store and facing that gooey chocolate temptress of a devil food brownie helped me withdraw from the sugary concoction. Plus, my son had moved to Europe in the summer of 2019 and I knew if I was going to hug him again I had to survive the pandemic.

Buy running shoes and a cute running outfit. I always wanted to be one of those people that run, but I loathed running, it hurt. But when the lockdown began in March 2020, I tried running. I bought a pair of cute white running shoes with a touch of pink and orange on them, a pair of black leggings with pockets on the sides, and a black athletic style jacket with a pink zipper. Then I brushed my hair back into a ponytail and went outside to run. I didn’t get far when the blisters formed on the back of my heel. My cute new shoes produced 2 wonderfully bloody blisters on my feet and I couldn’t wear shoes for a month, so much for running. I wondered if Little Debbie ever had that problem.

When my feet were healed, I put on a pair of thick socks and running shoes, knowing I would be a champion. I ran for 1 minute, and walked for 2 minutes, then ran for 1 minute, and then laid down on the road feeling like I was going to die. Seriously, 54 years old, and the way the pandemic was going, I was going to die as Zombie bait. I needed help.

Begin a doctor-supervised diet. I realized I needed help and accountability in order to lose weight and stay on a diet program. It was confusing to know what to eat and what not to eat because the dietary guidelines are constantly changing, so I consulted with the Becking Clinic in June 2020, and with their help, I learned how to cook without using oils or fats and started adding herbs and spices to my food to add flavor that was even better than butter or other types of fat. I became more disciplined in my shopping, preparation, and weighing of food, as well as myself. The program required me to log my food, water intake, sleep time, and weight every day. I hated it at first, but I soon realized that these habits made me see the impact of what I do or eat and how it affects my body. The weight started falling off. By November I had lost over 30 pounds and put on my cute running outfit, tied my running shoes, and I hit the pavement with a couch to 5k running app. This time I was able to finish my training circuit without collapsing on the ground in a pile of self-loathing.

I am still running, however; I have 30 years of smoking cigarettes that I have to atone for, so I still consider myself zombie fodder.

As I approach my 55th birthday this weekend and the 5-year mark of my health journey, I am now a size 8 at 142 pounds, (a weight I have not seen since 1989). My cute running outfit is too big and I need to buy a fresh pair of running shoes. I now have wrinkles I didn’t have before and sometimes when I look in the mirror I ask the reflection, “Who is that shar-pei?” But I have learned a lot during my 5-year-mid-life-crisis that will make the second half of my life the whip cream on top of my cosmic brownie sundae. (Metaphorically speaking, I’m done with Little Debbie).

1. Age isn’t about getting old, it’s about getting seasoned. The more herbs and spices you add to it, the better the flavor.

2. Just because you’re a bit more seasoned doesn’t mean that you have to retire your dreams.

3. Life is a buffet bar full of Little Debbie cakes and if you walk past it, there’s filet mignon with a reduction sauce, grilled asparagus, and a glass of Merlot waiting for you.

4. Cigarettes don’t help you keep weight off. Don’t let them fool you. They are NOT a weight-loss tool.

5. Know when to say no and start saying yes to what makes you happy.

6. Cigarettes and Little Debbies do not make you happy and tequila makes you do things that you probably shouldn’t.

7. There is no correlation between weight and creativity.


Gotta go now.  This birthday girl needs a new pair of running shoes.



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Melissa Whitaker

Artist | Illustrator | Photographer Currently Looking for her lost shaker of salt. 🍈

8 thoughts on “HEY! Little Debbie……Bite Me!”

  1. Living in a cage and spending many years trying to figure out what huge mistake I made to deserve this life.
    Thank you for writing your story about this part of your life. I was aware of some of it through postings on FB and Instagram. But reading some of these muses have filled pieces for me.
    Honestly I feel sneaky and like I’m invading your privacy.
    I definitely feel a kinship.
    I too have Art & Fear and the Artist’s Way in my library.
    I kicked my ex and his mirage of others out in 1994. We were married 11 years and one day.
    I don’t want to hijack your story. I’m feeling very diagonal right now.
    I love your post.

  2. During the short time I was a real estate agent we met and said “Hi, how are you”. Thank you so much for your posts on Facebook and the story of your journey. Thank you for your willingness to share. I think we would have become best friends in another life.

  3. I apologize (a little bit) for the photos, but some of us loved more during those times than you loved yourself❣

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