Meet the Y: Melissa

Did you realize there’s a whole team of people waiting for you to walk through the door so they can turn your life around? Our personal trainers fuel commitment, courage, and strength. They inspire confidence, create a safe space, and steer you to success. Start with a free goal-oriented consultation to prioritize your needs, and then begin your journey to the healthiest you.

One of our incredible members, Melissa Shaloame, took a leap of faith and has made monumental change ever since. Read her story below:

When I was asked to share my story, I was excited at first, then I was nervous, then conflicted.

Because I know me.  I knew the night before I would get little sleep because of anxiety.  I’d panic on the bus ride to Town Lake.  I would take notice of the exits or at least try to, perhaps everyone’s shoes.  Maybe someone is wearing the pair I just ordered?  I could ask them later how well they really perform?  That requires interaction with a stranger though.  Hmm.  Am I ready?  Definitely clipping my nails, I don’t want to be seen biting them.  I panicked.  I’ve been panicking ever since Jude asked me.  This is what it’s like for me when I panic while before I just wouldn’t, couldn’t leave my home…until YMCA.

I am in the process of healing myself so I had to carefully weigh anything that might trigger me.  Public speaking, not a trigger.  Getting personal, getting too close to something I haven’t worked on yet?  A trigger.  YMCA is more than a community to me.  There are these Saturday early mornings where I show up for cycling and there is frost on the grass and you can see the mist coming off the water and I’m sitting in one of the chairs having a cup of coffee, finally breathing.  I am not a victim.  I am not a survivor.  I am not someone who has experienced homelessness.  I am not the one living with mental illness.  I am not a single mother of a teenager that has has 10 hospitalizations since 2009 who lives with a mental illness as well as a neurodevelopmental disorder.  I am not the 38-year-old finally finishing school because she’s been consistently stable.  

I am just Melissa.

When I started this expedition I was slowly killing myself with food.  I could not cope with most of the labels I before mentioned, with the events, with the diagnoses that I had now passed on to my very innocent child.  I could not cope with the events I exposed to my child too.  Most of all I could not cope with the guilt, with the shame so I ate because I truthfully didn’t know how to communicate.  

Then one day or rather one dark stormy night (there really was a storm),  I had a severe reaction to a medication where I believed I was going to die, for three whole days.  The following week I realized I could die at any moment because I weighed 400 pounds.

Then it hit me what else my panic was about.  (old clothes)

I re-joined the YMCA in these clothes, and I remember it was Jude who sat behind the tiny desk because of the facility’s remodeling.  We talked about how much weight I had lost so far, but I felt disconnected from where I had gone before.  I felt like a number just paying a membership.  I remember feeling so lost, stuck in this shell that I might never crack open, and so desperate to just breathe.

It only took several years, or really 14 weeks ago for me to find the courage to step outside my comfort zone to try RPM/cycling or as some of us call it ”all the other bikes were being used so why not”.  Well, “why not?” was the best idea because I fell in love.

Tuesday through Saturday, occasionally Mondays I set up by the window because it is right next to the door.  That door is the door I walked through the day I rejoined.  That door changed my life.  It gives me the strength to speak about personal topics that I couldn’t, wouldn’t discuss in the past.  It gives me the strength to accept being cared about, to accept friendships.  It allows me to live a life worth living.  It allows me to continue to heal.

You all are that door, donors, volunteers, staff, and members.  Each of you are that door for me.  So thank you for changing my life and my apple’s life as well.

All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and/or contributors and not of their employer. Any questions or concerns regarding the content found here may be sent to

Contribute to the Y

We believe that lasting personal and social change can only come about when we all work together to invest in our kids, our health and our neighbors. As the leading nonprofit committed to helping everyone thrive at each stage of life, we are uniquely positioned to take on new and long-standing challenges more comprehensively than anyone else.

Your support through the YMCA of Austin’s Annual Giving Campaign makes this possible.