Your Story Matters – Mel Humphries (@melhumphries)
Mel is an avid runner (and is currently training for her first marathon), as well as a 12wbt follower since February 2015. Mel’s lost over 40kg and found a love of good food and a healthy mind of body. She is super inspiring, full of energy and cooks yummy vegan meals.
Can you tell the readers of North of Here a bit about yourself and your lifestyle?
I am a PhD student in the field of Mathematical Psychology (more broadly Statistics) but I am also a fully qualified chef. That means, loosely, I’m a nerd who knows how to cook and that’s a dangerous combination! Hahaha! Just over a year ago, after reaching my heaviest weight of around 130kgs, I decided it was time to try and get fit too. So, I signed up to the Michelle Bridges 12 week body transformation program (12wbt) and I haven’t really looked back. I’m now active, fit, healthy, and have found sources of happiness in places I never imagined I would find them… like running! I guess you could say I’ve gone from sedentary student to… I’m going to say it… An endurance athlete (eeep! That feels weird to even say it!). But I’m now training for my first Marathon, so I think it’s allowed, right?
You’re currently trying to finish your PhD, what does a current day in your life look like?
OK, the PhD has to take up a lot of time. I’m so close to the end. So everything else has to fit around it. That means my day looks like this: 5:30am alarm for a one (and a bit) hour workout. I do all of my workouts from home, so I just get out of bed, put on my shoes and go. Shower and breakfast after so that we are out of the door by 7:45am. Breakfast HAS to be a sit down affair at the table. I love breakfast and it sets me up for the day. No skipping it. Ever. Then, PhD at Uni from 8:30am-5pm… with a break for lunch of course! And mini breaks for snack times… Got to leave the computer and move around occasionally! Then, pick up hubby from work, drive home, play with dogs, make dinner, prep lunch for the next day (and breakfast if I need to), tidy the kitchen, check Instagram ;) and then bed by 9:30pm. *sigh* Love rest day on Sundays! Hahaha!
What keeps you motivated?
Several things really. But mostly, that I am actually doing this stuff! I spent so long believing that I couldn’t be fit, I couldn’t run, I couldn’t participate… The fact that I am is kind of amazing! I still have to pinch myself sometimes!! Here I was the whole time making excuses… and there are so many people out there who truly can’t run… I owe it to myself to do this and that keeps me going. A big scary goal is always a good motivator too! Hahaha! Everyone knows I’m doing this marathon now and you can’t cheat the grind! So, if I want to do this thing, I have to keep training! Hahaha!
Can you tell us about some of the challenges you face when it comes to looking after yourself?
The biggest challenge has been around food to be honest. As a chef…. As the sort of person who wants to be a chef… food has always played such a huge part of my life. We celebrate with food, commiserate with food, it’s our comfort, our memories, our soul… Retraining myself around that has been hardest. It’s still important to me, don’t get me wrong!, but now I don’t see stuffing my face with greasy food until I feel like I can’t move as a celebration anymore. Instead, I celebrate by nourishing this body that houses me, that carries me over finish lines and helps me achieve my goals. A party is about hanging out with the people I cherish more than about the hors d’oeuvres.
The other challenge was fitting in the workouts… I tried to do them in the afternoon (because I LOVE my sleep), but the later it gets in the day, the more things get in the way… Family issues, work issues, things breaking, calls, appointments, changes of plan!! Argh!! I have not yet had a day where any of those things happened at 5:30am. Just sayin. As with most things, stick with it for a couple of weeks and it’s not so bad after that. Consistency. That’s all you need.
You’ve recently completed in your first half marathon – what was the motivation behind entering the Cadbury Half marathon?
My husband’s friends were coming to visit from Melbourne and had said they might like to do it… I was running about 14kms non-stop at the time and I was about to start another round of 12wbt. Well, 12wbt have a half-marathon program and the thought of signing up to it and doing it both excited me and terrified me! I mean Me! Mel! Running a half marathon! That was ludicrous! Ludicrous enough for me to take the plunge and do it! Hubby said he would do it with me, so I just stopped thinking, bought my entry and told everyone I was doing it! Hahaha! No turning back then!
Tell us a bit about your first half marathon experience.
It was awesome. I smiled the whole way… A great big cheesy grin! I had done all of the training as per the plan. I hadn’t skipped a day. I had made sure I did my strength training and stretching and I kept to plan in taper. That meant I started race day knowing I could do it. I was confident, excited and ready, as some of the ladies on my favourite running forum say, to take my victory lap! Haha! I went out a bit too fast, but I got it done in under 2 hours and 30 minutes (just!) which was my goal! Some woman who I had met through 12wbt cheered me over the line (along with what felt like half of Hobart) and, although I was completely spent, it was seriously the proudest I have been in a long time. I did it. Mel ran a half marathon. Epic.
What do you love most about running?
The honesty of it. It’s just you out there, no-one else. If you cheat, you know, if you push hard, you know… It’s about beating who you were yesterday, about challenging yourself to do a little more, give a little more or be a little more… And it’s amazing how much more we are capable of! The more I run, the more confidence I have in me. All of these years I felt that my body was working against me, but running has helped me discover the truth. If I ask it to do something, it will do it. I just have to treat it right and trust it. Running is freedom and stress relief and power to be better. It’s mateship and encouragement and support too… Once you find another runner hahaha!
Do you do any other form of exercise?
I do strength training 3 days a week and stretching two days a week with a rest day on Sundays. But all of those days are designed to specifically help with my running. I don’t play any competitive sport or go to the gym or dance… But all of those things are things I would like to do at some stage. I just got to keep running for a bit first ;)
How long have you been doing 12wbt for and what’s your experience of it?
I started in February round of 2015, so just over a year now. I have lost almost 40kgs since started and gone from not being able to run for a minute, to completing my first half marathon. But, as cool as those things sound, it is seriously the mindset that has been the biggest change. 12wbt focuses on three pillars: Nutrition, Fitness and Mindset. It is the mindset that is the real foundation that underlies everything that we do (I mean, motivation to exercise? Cravings? All that stuff is mindset) so, without it, you can’t possibly hope to find lasting change. I will never go back to who I was when I was 130kgs and I can say that with confidence because my mindset is completely different. I have changed the way I think about food and nutrition, but also about emotions, coping, strength, motivation, discipline… All of those things I have gained from 12wbt. The program is about creating LASTING change, not a quick fix. It seriously has everything you need to completely change your life… You’ve just got to do it!
What is your next goal?
To run a marathon!!! The Great Ocean Road marathon in May! So excited! Slightly terrified! 44kms is a looong way! But, I’m doing the 12wbt marathon program now and I am doing everything it says, so I’m trusting I will be ready. Fuel, train and smash those goals!!
As women, we often neglect a part of our own health/wellbeing – what is one thing that you’ve been neglecting, and would like to get on top of? (And are you working on this, if so, how?)
Oh. There’s always something, isn’t there?! Hahaha! For me, it is finding unwind time. I just don’t have much of it at the moment… Even Sundays are spent meal prepping and cleaning the house and catching up on PhD stuff… I really need to find a way to incorporate some relaxation. Proper relaxation. A good friend has shared some basic yoga videos with me, so I was thinking of giving that a go. Or maybe doing some meditation? But I need to find something where I can switch of my mind, relax my body and just revive for a bit. A work in progress ;)
What does your current training routine look like?
6 days a week. Running intervals and hill sprints along with a tempo run and recovery run make up my running days. Strength days target legs and core, then arms and core each week. A stretch and core day and my long run day on Saturdays. It’s all set out by 12wbt in the marathon program, so I just do what they say! Makes it a lot easier than having to plan my own workouts… and I don’t need a gym membership to do it! And rest day on Sunday.
Where do you turn to for fitness motivation?
Hubby was a good source in the early days… Just wanting to be able to take part in the things he liked doing like kicking the footy or taking part in fun runs… Now though, Instagram motivates me a real lot! That and the 12wbt forums… There is something just remarkably motivating about seeing someone at the start of their journey. Their determination and passion… I honestly believe that is when we are at our strongest; in that moment where we decide to turn our lives around and take that plunge. You can never be stronger. I remember running for 2 minutes straight for the first time and how much that killed me… I see these guys out there, doing that in the heat or the snow or the dark. Pushing themselves to be better than they were yesterday even though it hurts like hell. That motivates me every day. I don’t look to the perfect body who is maintaining something they’ve had for years, as well earned and honourable as that is, it is the person who is nowhere near that but is trying with everything they have to get there that inspires me more.
Grocery shopping is generally a pain, what are some of your favourite foods that you buy that make you feel great?
Roasted peanuts that I grind into Peanut Butter!!! Peanut butter…. *sigh* I love it. Can’t help it. And it’s good for you! Protein and deliciousness. Perfect. Apples are another go to purchase (often eaten with said peanut butter, hahaha!), especially local ones that are in season. I guess that’s my big thing (and probably the wanky chef coming out in me) but I try and buy seasonal and local fruit and vegetables as much as I can. The flavour is better and they just make you feel more in tune with the world. I think so anyway!
You share a lot of yummy (and healthy meals) on your instagram account, what is your favourite meal at the moment?
My favourite meal right now is a really simple one. Grilled tofu with basmati rice and pickled vegetables. It’s clean, tasty (the dressing has a touches of sweet, sour and spice), it has a crunch and chew, warm components and cold components and a good balance of carbs, protein, and vegetables. Plus it’s really quick and easy to make, so extra bonus! That said, the Blueberry Muesli muffins I have in my freezer for “back-up” breakfasts have been calling to me… Hahaha!
What are your three top health tips for living a healthy lifestyle?
1) Be kind to yourself.
No one is perfect 100% of the time, so don’t set yourself the unrealistic goal of trying to be. If you do something you’re not happy with figure out why you did it, make a plan to avoid doing the same thing next time, forgive yourself and move on. Learn, love and move on.
2) Make time for yourself.
You deserve it. Set aside the time that is just for you and your health. Whether it be the hour you need in the morning to do your workout, the Sunday afternoon you need to do your meal prep, the half hour before bed when all the electrical devices get turned off, all of the above or whatever else it is you need, schedule it in and Make. The. Time. As clichéd as it is, you can’t pour from an empty cup, so make sure you have time to refill.
3) Plan and prepare.
It doesn’t matter how good your intentions are, if you don’t have a plan and aren’t prepared then your chances of succeeding are slim. Set your goals, plan how you’re going to achieve them and prepare everything you need to achieve those goals. Make your lunch the night before. Go to bed early so you will wake up for that workout alarm. Join a gym or a workout group or a program like 12wbt. Have back up meals in your freezer… Readjust as you need to, but keep planning and preparing.
What does ‘wellness’ mean to you’?
Wellness. Hmmmm. I think that’s kind of multifaceted. I guess total wellness to me means a body and mind that is working how it should. It’s not really “optimal performance”, it’s more like your body is healthy and free of injury and illness and your mind is relaxed and focussed with a realistic and balanced view of the world and your place in it.
What are five things in your workout bag?
I don’t really have one, because I work out on the streets and in parks and at home! Hahaha! But I never workout without my Asics, My Fitbit HR, My iPhone (with the 12wbt app and Map My Run on it), good socks (Asics or Injinji toe socks, depending on the workout) and a good sports bra! That’s all the important things taken care of, feet, toes, heart rate, running splits and bouncing ;)
Shout-out to my roller here too! That’s one workout item I can’t live without. Every workout, every day, roll those ITBs… It keeps my knees happy and keeps me running which keeps me happy J
What is one thing you do for yourself, for your sanity/health/wellbeing that you do everyday without fail?
Ummm, workout? Hahaha! Nope, even that’s only 6 days a week! OK, so seven days a week… I take the time to make my meals pretty. I don’t just throw them in a bowl or slop them on a plate… I take the time to present them nicely. It doesn’t take too much longer and it reminds me that I’m worth it. I’m worth the effort. Mindful eating is not something I ever did, it’s something I’m still working on now, and taking that bit of time reminds me to respect the food I’m eating, enjoy the flavours and textures and appreciate it for the nourishment that it provides. Every meal is a celebration! Gah, you can take the chef out of the kitchen…. Hahaha!
Your story matters: Is a regular series where I sit down at chat with women like you about your health and fitness story. Everyone has a story to tell and we can all learn from each other. If you would to be featured please email me: hello <at> northofhere.com.au