This article was first seen on the Huffington Post. For this installment, we are joined by Melissa Crowther.
Let’s start off with a general introduction. How would you describe yourself, what are you all about and how did you get involved in health and fitness?
I am 42 years young, a wife and a mother of two beautiful children and an extremely passionate ambassador for health and fitness! Always so body conscious as a teenager, I joined a gym and fell in love with the feeling of weight training and getting strong. A few years later, I got myself certified, and started my career in fitness as a Fitness Class Instructor, later moving into Personal Training.
I now run my own business “Enduring Fitness”. I work as a Personal Trainer and Online Coach for the everyday lady who just wants to get in shape, or for the girls heading into Fitness Competitions. I started competing in Fitness Competitions in 2012 and I hope to one day achieve my Pro Card with the IFBB and compete at the highest level!
Where does your motivation come from?
My motivation comes from wanting to be the very best version of myself that I can be. I woke up one day and realised that life was flying by so fast, I was getting older and I hadn’t really achieved anything significant or pushed myself outside of any boundaries. I was sick of being self conscious about my physique and knew that I could do more with my life.
Over time I’ve discovered that motivation is not something that is there all the time, it ebbs and flows like the tide… sometimes you can ride with it, and sometimes you have to swim against it. Some days you really have to work on your motivation and remember your reasons for choosing to live a fit and healthy lifestyle.
For me, I want to be confident. I want to have a great body in a bikini. I want to live a long healthy life and be a great role model to my children and to other women around me.
As you decided to make a career out of your passion – what were your biggest stumbling blocks along the way?
Just because you’re passionate about fitness, it doesn’t mean you have to do it all, so I encourage you to find your niche. I used to teach fitness classes, but I never really enjoyed it. It wasn’t me. I was fighting an uphill battle to cement myself in the industry. Personal Training; one on one, now that was me! I loved the close interaction with the client and helping them set and achieve goals.
I’ve now found my niche in online training, specialising in shaping the female physique and also training girls for the fitness stage. It took me a long time to realise that you have to network in order to find people to work with who align with your beliefs when it comes to fitness. Go out there and find opportunities, because the opportunities won’t just come to you.
What’s your perspective on the importance of self-care?
As a mom, it’s too easy to put yourself last. But I know from experience that if you don’t take care of yourself both physically and mentally, then you can’t be the very best mother to your children. So it’s important to take care of yourself… You deserve it!
As women, we also need to learn to love ourselves a whole lot more. Appreciate your body for all the wonderful things it can do. It’s great to be lean and strong, but also love the curves and shapes our bodies go through during the different stages of our lives.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about women lifting weight?
Sometimes I think that it must be common knowledge by now that you won’t get bulky from lifting weights. But that myth is still alive and well! It really is extremely difficult to build muscle, and you’ll need to work really hard to do so, much harder than you might realise!
A good weight training session can burn as many calories as a cardio session, sometimes more and has the added benefit of boosting your metabolism and creating beautiful shapes on your body!
Many young women who want to lose weight believe that not eating is the way to do it, without realising the consequences of that kind of behavior.
Why do you think this is and what’s your perspective on educating society on healthy nutrition habits?
It’s quite sad to see women put themselves through this, but unfortunately the problem isn’t going to go away anytime soon. Women have been doing this for decades, and will likely continue to do this into the future. Education is so important, and I feel as a passionate ambassador for health and fitness I have such a great opportunity to share my knowledge and educate women on this topic.
There is a better way! We are so fortunate to have social media channels to reach out and help educate people. But I believe it really should start early. If we can teach teenagers in school about proper nutrition and exercise and the negative side effects of starvation diets, then maybe we can slowly change the way women think.
What are the most unexpected lessons you’ve learned on your health and fitness journey this far?
Sustainable changes in your physique require moderation in your regime. People like extreme fitness challenges, because moderation can seem so boring… and moderate regimes require lots of patience! But those 6 week challenges, cutting carbs out, meal replacement shakes, soup diets, all of those extreme things are just not sustainable and will do nothing but set you up to rebound the other way.
I’ve been quite sensible for most of my fitness journey, but I’ve had a taste of some of these things and they just don’t work long term. By far my biggest challenge when working with people, is to help them find the patience and perseverance to keep going and to do things sensibly.
What do you do to maintain balance in your life?
Balance in my life is extremely important to me. When there’s no balance, things start to fall apart at the seams. I am careful to reserve evenings and weekends to family time as much as I can, and try not to get caught up in working on the computer. It can be all too easy to do when you work from home!
It’s important to set working hours so that you get some down time and can relax your mind. I also find I need to balance my training with leisure activities. When you work in the industry, your training is sometimes no longer your down time. In the summer I love to surf and I’ve recently taken up photography as a hobby. These two activities are great for the mind, body and soul and even better, I can do them with my family too.
How do you stay productive?
I’m a master at multi tasking! I find it’s the only way I can get everything done. I rarely just sit and watch the news for example. I’ll be folding the washing, or doing my glute activation work or foam rolling at the same time. I love to use “to do lists” each day to ensure I stay productive and get all my daily tasks ticked off the list. It goes without saying that eating healthy is essential so that I have the energy to get everything done. There’s another bonus to a healthy lifestyle!
Can you give a breakdown of your current diet, training and supplementation regimen and the thinking behind it?
My business is called Enduring Fitness for a very good reason. I believe that any diet and training regime should be sustainable and something you can see yourself doing for a very long time, if not the rest of your life! Therefore I maintain a sensible and balanced approach to my health and fitness.
I follow the flexible dieting lifestyle all year round. This allows me to have both control and flexibility at the same time. I love to eat healthy food, and I aim to eat a balance of macronutrients, keeping plenty of fruit, vegetables and carbohydrates in my diet for energy, enough protein for muscle repair, and lots of healthy fats to maintain healthy skin and hair.
For a shapely and strong physique, I think it’s important to base your training regime on a solid foundation of weight training. I love to train my glutes and I aim to build them more, so I train them several times per week. I balance that with two shoulder / upper back workouts, and one chest / arms workout, to build that hourglass bikini competitor shape. Cardio training is minimal and I’m careful not to do an excessive amount so I keep as much muscle as I can. I love to walk my dog to keep active all year round, but when I am leaning out for competition I might add in a couple of HIIT sessions each week to kick the fat loss into a higher gear.
Supplementation can be important, but it’s really only the icing on the cake after you have your diet and training regime in place. I use only the proven basics. Some creatine to help build muscle mass, protein powder to help me meet my daily protein requirements and fish oil for healthy omega 3 fatty acids. I also take magnesium daily, because it’s something I can very quickly become deficient in with my intense training.
If you could only choose one thing, what would you tell your younger self?
People’s opinions of you really don’t matter. Only your opinion of yourself matters.
What are your biggest life goals for the year?
I would love nothing more than to reach the highest level of competing with the IFBB and earn my Pro Card. It’s a tough ask, but I think you need to aim as high as you can in life. So why not! I have some great things on the cards for my business with some exciting programs and E-Books to be released too, so a lot of my time will be spent on getting those into production.
Where can people go to learn more about you online?