Morning!  I am SO sore from No More Trouble Zones yesterday!  It really is a challenging workout, especially when you’re not used to any sort of strength training.  I feel myself getting stronger already.  🙂


I was up really late putting together IKEA furniture and now I have a desk and 1/2 a bookcase.  Baby steps, my friends!




I haven’t had oatmeal since we moved!


My mix:


  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 banana
  • Toppings:  Cinnamon, flax, blueberries, sunflowers


Maissa’s Healthy Tipping Point


I regularly post stories of other people’s Healthy Tipping Points (here’s the definition of a HTP, if you’re wondering) because I believe they are so inspiring.


Past HTPs:


  • Freya:  A Journey Out of Anorexia
  • Carrie:  Ditched Distorted Thinking and Ran a Marathon
  • Amy:  A Mom Who Lost Baby Weight and Became a Triathlete
  • Jenny:  Saw Lance Armstrong on Oprah and Decided to Ride a Century
  • Lauren:  Stays Active Despite Being a Busy Associate at a Financial Firm
  • Beth:  A Friend’s Serious Illness Inspired Her to Focus on Her Own Health


I hope you enjoy Maissa’s story!


When I was two years old my family immigrated from France to California. My father was a software engineer, and he rightly felt that California was the industry’s epicenter. My family was close, but I definitely had constant reminders that not only where we outsiders, but that we didn’t have the support of extended family as many of my friends did. I was always outgoing and friendly, but frequently stumbled through social situations due to my immigrant status. My family was a soda-free, junk-food free household, and I often felt awkward pulling out my lunches, usually left-over stews, baguette sandwiches, etc in front of my friends’ cans of coke and lunchables. The result? I started offering to finish their food when they didn’t.  I started spending my allowance on junk food and sneaking it into the house.  


By the time I was eleven I was fairly chubby, not overweight per-say, but definitely just outside of healthy. Then another bomb was dropped: my mother was diagnosed with cancer the summer before I started sixth grade. That’s when I really started turning to food for comfort. I would get my allowance, go to the corner store, buy as much junk as I could and then smuggle it back into my home, and consume it. Everyone praised me for my ability to handle my mother’s illness. I was still happy, confident, and outgoing. Indeed, I too thought I was handling it remarkably well. It did not occur to me that my junk-food binges where anything other than the desire to eat the same things all my friends were eating. 


By the time I graduated high-school I weighed 186 pounds. I moved from California to Vancouver, to attend the University of British Columbia (UBC), secretly hoping that getting away from my family, my mother’s sickness, and all the responsibilities I had back home would make them all disappear. While my problems back home were more distant in Vancouver, I once again found I was an outsider. I had spent 16 years in California, establishing a network of friends where I did not feel like that ‘French girl,’ and now I felt like that ‘American girl.’ Now don’t get me wrong, not only were there thousands of other American international students, but Canadians are wonderful. They are friendly, they are welcoming, and they are (although I might get flamed by all Canadians for saying this) remarkably similar to Americans. Yet there are differences, subtle, imperceptible little differences that would appear and throw me for a loop fairly regularly.  


Meanwhile, my mother’s disease was taking a turn for the worse. The medication that had been keeping her stable since I was 14 had stopped working. She was back on chemo, but everyone, me included, knew it was only a temporary fix. So I continued to eat. My mother died in November 2006. I was 19. I remember eating plate after plate of food at the wake and telling people funny endearing stories about my mother any time anyone asked me how I was doing. 


Nearly two years later, by August 2008, I weighed 214 pounds. Furthermore, I was stuck in a cycle of negative self-talk. I would eat to the point of feeling sick, and then tell myself I was disgusting and fat. My boyfriend (who I am still with and had been with for nearly three years at the time), was constantly telling me I was beautiful, but he’s a physically active guy. He, like most people in Vancouver, loves to hike, ski, kayak… name an outdoor activity, he’s probably a fan. If he hasn’t tried it he will. He’s naturally fit and just loves being outdoors. My unhealthy habits, and resulting inability to take part in the activities that we loved was putting serious strain on our relationship. I was unhappy with myself and blaming him for it.  


My personal Healthy Tipping Point, however, came in late August. I went to Vegas with a few friends. It was over 100 degrees outside, and I felt like I was suffocating. Every picture of me shows me red-faced and sweating. I hated every picture taken because it proved to me just how unhealthy I truly was. I emailed my dad the pictures to tell him about my trip and he wrote back begging me to do something about my health. "You aren’t happy Mai, I can see it, and I think you can too. To love yourself, you must respect yourself, you must take care of yourself, and right now you aren’t doing any of those things."
My father never came out and called me fat, he never told me I was overweight, he just told me that something needed to change. He was right, and when school started in September, I marched into the gym and bought a personal training package. A considerable amount of money later, I knew I had no choice. I had either just wasted a month of rent on nothing, or I was going to make a change. 


At first, I was focused on losing the weight to look better. I did everything my trainer told me, and I threw out all the junk food. I lost six pounds in two weeks, and 10 pounds in six weeks (averaging just under 2lbs a week, a healthy weight loss). Two months in though, something amazing happened. I found myself craving the gym. It was midterms, I was studying like crazy, and all I wanted to do was take a break and hit the stationary bike. So I did. I came home and found my focus was improved. I felt happier, and I was able to retain more information. 


It was official. I was an endorphin addict. Over the next year and a half I made some pretty significant changes. In February 2009, I became a runner. That November I ran a 10k. In February 2010, I ran a half marathon. My Dad and brother came to Vancouver to support me. In May I ran my second half marathon and managed to have fun doing it. This summer my boyfriend and I are planning a seven day camping trip through some pretty rugged back-country and over some pretty serious mountains (it’s called Beautiful British Columbia, but there’s some ugly terrain out there). I’m confident that whatever gets thrown at me I have the physical fitness to overcome it and enjoy it. I have energy, I am happy, I wake up every morning thrilled to be alive.


A lot of people ask me what made the change stick, and I don’t really have that great an answer for them. It was a combination of things. I wanted to look better, yes, but I wanted to be able to hike with my boyfriend. I wanted to stop feeling like I was holding him back. I did have to force myself through those first few months, but once I started to see the benefits of getting healthy, I was hooked. That feeling took me through the first year of my journey. 


Then I discovered the blog world. I admit, I stumbled upon Operation Beautiful first. I was home, visiting family and friends in San Francisco, and I was at my old gym. On one of the mirrors was a note: "You are strong, independent, and capable. Nothing can take that away." Underneath the message was written, I made a mental note of it and checked it out. I started reading Healthy Tipping Point and realized that here was someone else who had struggled with their health and had found a way to live a healthier lifestyle. I knew that if I ever wavered, if I ever had a bad day (and there have been bad days, there will always be bad days, it’s life), I could look to the blog world for inspiration. 


This has given me the strength to continue on my own personal journey, because I truly believe it never ends. Yes, I am at a point where I am healthy, but life throws curve-balls at you and you have to re-asses your strategy.  But I know I will always be able to adapt.   After all, in the words of that first Operation Beautiful note, "I am strong, independent, and capable [and] nothing can take that away!"



  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing July 7, 2010, 10:42 am


  • Lauren (Clean Eats in the Dirty South) July 7, 2010, 10:45 am

    so inspiring!

  • Nancy July 7, 2010, 10:51 am

    LOVE IT!

    I did NMTZ today and I know I’m going to be super sore – a great feeling!

  • Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans July 7, 2010, 10:53 am

    What a great story! Its always inspiring to read the stories of how and why people adopt healthy and active lifestyles.

  • Becky July 7, 2010, 10:59 am

    Amazing story.

    • Annie July 8, 2010, 3:28 pm

      I agree! Thanks for sharing. 😀

  • Jessica @ How Sweet July 7, 2010, 11:03 am

    Wow that is AWESOME!!!

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday July 7, 2010, 11:04 am

    That’s a really inspiring story

  • Kristina July 7, 2010, 11:04 am

    thanks for sharing her story – truly awesome and insightful.

    I’ve been having fun with NMTZ… and it DOES show me how little I was doing in some areas! youch!

  • Marilou @ Mostly Healthy July 7, 2010, 11:08 am

    Lovely! Amazing to see Operation Beautiful in action 😉

  • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs July 7, 2010, 11:08 am

    What a lovely story Maissa! You are really inspirational, turning your life round like that. I admire you!

  • Carolyn @ lovinlosing July 7, 2010, 11:12 am

    Great story! You go girl!

  • Anne July 7, 2010, 11:13 am

    Thanks for sharing, great transformation (in your thinking and your body!)

  • Joanne July 7, 2010, 11:14 am

    So glad you posted Maissa’s story. It’s very motivating and lets everyone know that with the will power, anything is possible.

  • Run Sarah July 7, 2010, 11:15 am

    Maissa I love your story – so inspiring, and it’s wonderful to see another UBCer out there too in the blog world!

  • Bridget July 7, 2010, 11:16 am

    Such an inspiring story! Best of luck, Maissa!

  • Camille July 7, 2010, 11:17 am

    What an amazing story! There are some incredible women out there!

  • Christy July 7, 2010, 11:20 am

    A very inspirational story! Shows just how strong and beautiful we are from the inside out!

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) July 7, 2010, 11:21 am

    absolutely, incredibly amazing 🙂 thank you for sharing your story!

  • Anya @ Fitness & Sunshine July 7, 2010, 11:22 am

    What a great story by another inspirational woman. 🙂 It is so nice to see this and has put a smile on my face.

  • Rachel (Two Healthy Plates) July 7, 2010, 11:23 am

    What an inspirational story! Way to go!

  • Jenny July 7, 2010, 11:26 am

    Congrats, Maissa!!! You’re amazing!

  • Sarah for Real July 7, 2010, 11:29 am

    That is a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing Maissa!

    I love these segments, Caitlin! Keep them coming!

    BTW, did you have to assemble, disassemble, and reassemble much of your ikea furniture? Haha, I remember doing that with this crazy desk I bought there in college. Took me 4 hours!!!

  • Koko July 7, 2010, 11:29 am

    Amazing story! Totally inspiring!

  • Skinny Sushi July 7, 2010, 11:31 am

    Does it make me a terrible person that I am comforted when Trouble Zones makes you sore? It nearly killed me, which made me question my overall fitness… but if you, who are MUCH more fit than me, think it’s a tough workout then I feel a little better…

    Maissa is an absolute inspiration. Thanks for sharing the story!

    • Caitlin July 7, 2010, 4:47 pm

      Hahah It is SOOOO HARD. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

  • Wei-Wei July 7, 2010, 11:32 am

    Maissa, you’re truly amazing. You’re so incredibly strong for making it through and recognising each trigger and phase in your life. I congratulate you – you’re an inspiration.

    I loved the part about OB! 😀


  • Rachel July 7, 2010, 11:34 am

    What a great story!

  • Yuri July 7, 2010, 11:34 am

    Thanks for sharing yr story, inspirational!! Good luck 🙂

  • Annie July 7, 2010, 11:36 am

    Both my mother and father died of cancer at an early age(47 and 54 respectively). I’ve made a promise to myself that I will exercise and eat right so I can stay healthy. Your story reminds me that this is a promise to my family, too. Thank you!

  • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman July 7, 2010, 11:39 am

    Wow, that was a great story. Thanks for sharing it, Maissa. What an awesome showing of strength.

  • Gracie (complicated day) July 7, 2010, 11:46 am

    Thank you for sharing! I’m so impressed with your dedication. You look great and healthy!

  • Mindy @ just a one girl revolution. July 7, 2010, 11:47 am

    What a fantastic story! Thanks for sharing your heart with us, Maissa! (And, Caitlin, thanks for posting it!) You’re an inspiration and you look fabulous!

  • Helen July 7, 2010, 11:47 am

    wow what an inspiring story. Thanks for sharing, you have come so far yet lost weight in a responsible and healthy way. Massive congrats for running the half marathon!

  • Gavi @ GaviGetsGoing! July 7, 2010, 11:53 am

    Thanks for the amazing story! I’ve known Maissa since we were kids and it’s so wonderful and exciting to see her story featured here. Thanks so much for sharing, and CONGRATULATIONS, Maissa, on your incredible journey!

  • Nicole July 7, 2010, 11:59 am

    Wow! What a great story! You look so happy now! That is what I have noticed with all these stories (and health blogs)- the biggest difference in the before and afters often isn’t so much weight as the joy in your eyes.
    Oh- and I am Canadian, and I agree about Canadians and Americans being very similar!
    If you are doing the West Coast Trail, I did it a couple of years ago. It was a blast.

  • Candice July 7, 2010, 11:59 am

    So inspiring Maissa! It’s amazing that you reached deep inside of yourself and did what it took to become healthy and happy! Congratulations…you are amazing!!

    Love seeing Operation Beautiful at work…very cool:)

  • Morgan @ Life After Bagels July 7, 2010, 12:03 pm

    Maissa – it’s lovely to “meet” you and to read your story 🙂

  • Mary @ What's Cookin' with Mary July 7, 2010, 12:06 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing Maissa!!! Your story is sort of similar to my own and I’m so happy to see you so happy now. What an accomplishment (!!) Taking control of your health 😀

  • Heather July 7, 2010, 12:06 pm

    Great story, thanks for sharing!

  • Ellen@FIrednFabulous July 7, 2010, 12:12 pm

    Love this story! Congrats Maissa! If there’s ever a follow-up post, I’d like to know more specifically how her eating changed. I’ve always enjoyed working out, but it’s my issues with food that are unbalanced and not the healthiest (even though I try.) It’s always neat to see how someone else did it. Anyway, great post!

    • Maissa July 7, 2010, 2:24 pm

      Maissa here! Haha. Thanks for your comment!

      I thought about including something about my dietary changes, but the post was already so long, and it was more about my personal journey, that I nixed it.

      As for what changes I did make to my diet, the biggest thing was cutting out processed foods. If I don’t understand the ingredient list I wont buy it. On any given week a good 85-90% of my grocery bill is produce. I just cleaned up the way I was eating and learned to listen to my body’s cues. I used to eat constantly, all day, all the time, now I eat 3 meals and 1-2 snacks depending on how I’m feeling and how much I’m exercising on a given day (10 mile run = a lot more food required).

      I’ve also made a point of learning about the food I eat. I buy most of my produce at farmer’s markets (during the summer when they are available), I only buy organic dairy and eggs, and again I try and buy from local farmers. I want to feel good about the food I eat and for me a big part of that is learning about my local food chain. If you eat locally you will eat cleanly, and I find I feel best when I eat cleanly.

      Hope that somewhat answers your question. Feel free to email me,, if you have any other questions.

      Thanks again for your comment!

      • Caitlin July 7, 2010, 4:48 pm

        Thanks Maissa!

  • Lindsay July 7, 2010, 12:14 pm

    Wow, what a truly amazing story. I also live in Vancouver so this was extra special for me. Thank you for sharing!

  • Danielle (Runs on Green) July 7, 2010, 12:20 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story Maissa! You’re an inspiration 😀

  • Marina July 7, 2010, 12:22 pm

    This is a great story. I am feeling especially proud for some reason because I am from Vancouver myself and love to see my city mentioned in it!

    It is such a wonderful place and the majority of people here are, indeed, very fitness-inclined; going to the gym, doing yoga, running, biking, you name it.

    After 13 years of living here and calling it home, I finally changed, too. It must be something in the air here!

    • Jenny July 7, 2010, 12:44 pm

      I love seeing my home town mentioned too!
      I’ve spent the past 5 years living in Toronto…but I still read the Vancouver Sun everyday online 🙂
      Way to go Maissa!

    • Maissa July 7, 2010, 2:27 pm

      I agree, the atmosphere in Vancouver definitely contributed to my success. Just driving around and seeing people out for runs made me want to be more active. Also there are so many resources – running clubs, summer beach volleyball, and thousands of yoga studios, that it makes it a lot easier.

      Thanks for your comments!

  • Bronwyn Coyne July 7, 2010, 12:23 pm

    Nice job Maissa! Love it! It’s so cool to see someone I know on here. 😀

  • Heather July 7, 2010, 12:26 pm

    love it! so inspirational! kuddos!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat July 7, 2010, 12:26 pm

    Great story!! I love reading these, they’re so inspiring. Great job Maissa!

  • Stacey @ Tipping the (Kitchen!) Scales July 7, 2010, 12:32 pm

    It can be such an uphil struggle to become healthier but Marissa has shown it is possible – anyone really can do anything if they want it bad enough! So inspiring.

  • Carrie H July 7, 2010, 12:45 pm

    Your story is awesome, Maissa. I’m so sorry you lost your mother. I truly believe that from somewhere, she is very proud of you right now.

  • Laura@FindingAHealthyBalance....after a 100+ Pound weight loss!!! July 7, 2010, 12:46 pm

    GREAT STORY! I love them!

    Stories like that are what “inspired” me to lose 100+ pounds and though I am struggling to lose the last 15+ now I keep on going as I know I will eventually get there because I know anything is possible now.

    Thanks for sharing…..=)

  • Michelle July 7, 2010, 12:47 pm

    What a great story! Congrats Maissa!

  • Nicole, RD July 7, 2010, 12:48 pm

    You are an inspiration! Congrats on all of your successes — inside and out! You look wonderful!

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit July 7, 2010, 1:05 pm

    What an amazing story! She looks so happy and healthy in that last picture 🙂

  • Jo July 7, 2010, 1:06 pm

    Great post. So inspirational 🙂

  • Amber July 7, 2010, 1:21 pm

    Thanks for sharing Maissa!

    I live in the Interior of British Columbia. It really is beautiful up here and I’ve found since moving further south in B.C. (I grew up in northern B.C.) it’s EASIER to get healthier because the cities down here promote it more. Enjoy your camping trip – you look fantastic!!

  • Michal July 7, 2010, 1:24 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, Maissa!

  • Miranda @ MirandasJeans July 7, 2010, 1:28 pm

    I love this story. Congratulations on all your hard work and growth you have made in your new healthy life.

  • Lindsay @ The Ketchup Diaries July 7, 2010, 1:35 pm

    Maissa, thank you so much for sharing. Your transformation is truly inspiring. Whenever I hear stories like yours, it truly gives me the belief that anyone can change. So proud of you, girl!!

  • Liz July 7, 2010, 1:37 pm

    That is a wonderful story! Congratulations, Maissa 🙂

  • Sarah July 7, 2010, 1:38 pm

    Such a beautiful and inspiring story! Thank you for sharing a little bit of yourself with us, Maissa!

  • Courtney @ Three Months July 7, 2010, 1:43 pm

    Great story & very inspiring!!

  • Dee July 7, 2010, 1:55 pm

    What an inspiring story! Thanks so much for sharing, I really enjoyed reading it.

  • kalli@fitandfortysomething July 7, 2010, 2:12 pm

    thank you for sharing! this is so motivational 🙂

  • kirsten July 7, 2010, 2:18 pm

    SO motivating Maissa! Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) July 7, 2010, 2:23 pm

    I love your story. Thank you for sharing Maissa. I agree with the endorphin addiction. So addicting.

  • Maissa July 7, 2010, 2:28 pm

    Just wanted to say a HUGE thank you to everyone for all your wonderful comments! You have all put a smile on my face.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Jessica @ Rawtumn July 7, 2010, 3:46 pm

    Wow she looks absolutely glowing, beautiful story! Thank you both for sharing it!

  • Alyssa @ Bride To Be Fit July 7, 2010, 4:01 pm

    So inspiring… amazing journey for her, thank you for sharing it!

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) July 7, 2010, 4:36 pm

    What a great story! My husband and I were just talking about the high you get from working out and that when people get it…you have to have it! Thanks for sharing!

  • Robyn @ WannabeWriterRunner July 7, 2010, 5:06 pm

    Isn’t it funny when we start to crave exercise? Congrats Maissa!

  • Hayley July 7, 2010, 5:41 pm

    Congrats Maissa, and thank you for sharing your inspiring story. I too, live in Vancouver – although I was born and raised in the Lower Mainland.

    I ran a few 5k races in 2008, but stopped running in the winter. It only took a few years, but I decided to very slowly get back into it a few months ago. With the humid, muggy weather I was dreading my scheduled run tonight, but reading your story has given me some much needed motivation! Thank you!!

  • Amber K @ sparkpeople July 7, 2010, 6:50 pm

    I love reading these inspirational stories. Way to go Maissa!

  • maria @ Chasing the Now July 7, 2010, 8:40 pm

    What a great story! 🙂 I love when people take control of their own journey to make a different ending.

  • Sara July 8, 2010, 12:58 am

    I have known Maissa since we were 5 and have been lucky to see this whole journey. So proud of you Maissa!

Healthy Tipping Point