On Tuesday night, a Shadyside woman chosen to participate on ABC's 'Extreme Weight Loss,' showcased her struggle with being overweight and being a single parent.
Melissa Karkowski, started her journey a year ago, when she was chosen to participate in the show. At that time, Melissa weighed in at 301 lbs.; 150 lbs. overweight. The single mother of three has struggled with being overweight as she turned to food for comfort after losing her husband Mike in 2009. Mike was a soldier who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and committed suicide as a result.
Melissa wants people to know there is help and people shouldn't suffer in silence like her husband. “If you know anyone out there that has PTSD and is suffering with it, that is what my episode is about, as well as my own transformation,” said Karkowski.
Friends and family were all in attendance to watch the two-hour show that followed Melissa for one year as she worked to bring awareness to PTSD and to fight demons of her own, but this wasn't a journey Melissa took on alone. Melissa’s son Eli is happy for the experience he and his family went through while his mom was on the show. “It's been remarkable in a sense, because of how she's transformed emotionally and physically, so it's been a great journey this year,” said Karkowski’s son.
The journey has been long for Melissa and her family, and some may not have been able to persevere through the loss of a loved one in such a tragic way, but she recognized she needed to remain healthy so her kids wouldn't lose the only parent they have left.
“It takes one strong person to be able to go through what she did, you know her dedication, it's amazing, it's amazing what she has done,” said Karkowski’s boyfriend of three-and-a-half years, Kirk Hood.
Family and friends were in tears watching the show; Melissa even shed a few tears looking back at her former self. Knowing what she has gone through and how she continues to remain positive and wanting to be the best she can, her family couldn't be more proud. “I am just so proud of her, I am so proud of her,” said Karkowski’s mother, Barbara Houston.
“I love her. I'm just so proud of her, you know I couldn't be more proud,” said Hood.
Melissa has lost a total of 142 pounds during her transformation and told WTRF she tried to quit the day after she was notified she would be on the show, because she never thought it would be possible to achieve this kind of weight loss and adopt a healthier lifestyle.