Obese people have it tough - Cornwall's Mellissa Alepins knows first hand.
While many people will point the finger directly at overweight people and suggest they are the ones who put the food in their mouth, or choose to sit around instead of exercising, the fact is obese people get little support from society in general when they try to shed the unwanted pounds.
Alepins knows the story better than anyone. At her heaviest the five-foot tall Cornwall resident weighed nearly 220 pounds according to rough estimates - she stopped weighing herself when she tipped the scales at 210.
Alepins eventually realized the only person who could help her lose the weight, was her. After two years of dedication to a healthy lifestyle that includes dieting and exercise, she has shed about 100 pounds. She's now a svelte 124.
It's also why she joined an online support group for obese people looking to lose weight and now counts herself as somebody overweight people can turn to when they need some encouragement - mostly because she's been there too.
"I was really depressed and stressed," she said in an interview. Her weight problems began when she was in the sixth grade, and by junior high school she was the butt of plenty of schoolyard jokes and she eventually had to be homeschooled for the balance of her academic commitments. "I really felt like an outcast, and then I started to skip a lot of classes.
"I could never walk home from school...and it was just a mile away," she continued. "My legs would rub together and I would start to get out of breath.
Her weight issues came to a head two years ago when Alepins sister Alicia announced she would be getting married. Alepins was part of the wedding party and was terrified at the thought of dragging her body before a large group of people.
"I knew I had to change."
Alepins, like many other obese people, had fought the weight demon in the past. She had tried exercising, including cycling both around the neighbourhood and on a stationary machine, but had failed at every attempt.
Part of the reason was image - she didn't want people to see her trying to lose the weight.
So she began her own exercise regimen in the basement of her Cornwall home. Her determination paid off, when after three months of completing the popular P90X exercise program, she had dropped a whopping 60 pounds.
"It was life-changing," she exclaimed. "It made me feel like there was hope."
Her life now consists of working out six times a week, becoming a vegetarian and trying to motivate others through online support groups.
"There's hope for other people, becase change is possible," she said.
Alepins can be found at facebook.com/mellissa.alepins to learn more about her story.