Your Story Matters – Mel (the self confessed Snapchat Queen)
I’m still unsure of how I ‘found’ Mel, I’m pretty sure it was on instagram, through the owners of Active Truth…. Anyway – I’m so glad I did! Mel is a Brisbane based lawyer, who is also just a bit over a month out from her very first Bodybuilding competition. She’s competing in the INBA federation, in the bikini division. Anyway, before I ramble on too much – Mel is an inspiration and so motivating and upbeat. Be sure to check her out (all the links are at the end of this post).
Can you tell the readers of North of Here a bit about yourself and your lifestyle?
I’m just a country kid with city dreams. I lived in Dubbo for 11 years, went to high school in Townsville and the big city for me is Brisbane! I love it.Newly wed, sister, daughter, Aunty to Harry (the most active toddler I know!), friend, lawyer, gym bunny, member of the Olympia Pro Team, aviation geek, Mini Cooper enthusiast, lover not a fighter, competitive with myself, ambitious, positive and disciplined.
What does a current day in your life look like?
I could tell you or you could just watch my snapchat story. I share my daily journey, the highs and lows, the behind the scenes of working as a full time corporate lawyer training for her first bodybuilding competition. The challenges, the excitement, the meal prep and all of the good vibes.
How do you deal with setbacks?
I don’t believe in failure, only lessons. I look for the lessons in any situation that did not go to plan. I try to adopt the lessons to avoid the same disappointment occurring again. I take accountability and responsibility for my actions, my habits, my behaviours and my relationships. If I’m not happy with either of these as of my life, I’ll do my best to understand the root cause and adjust as necessary.
You’ve recently got married and got back from a honeymoon at the start of the year – which sparked a fitness journey like no other, can you tell North of Here readers about your journey to the Bodybuilding stage?
I hadn’t stepped into gym until August 2015 when I started doing Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation. I was drawn to Michelle’s firm but fair style. I loved the program and would recommend it to anyone serious about putting their health first. She has a number of programs to suit fitness levels and goals. The meal plan is adaptable to your dietary requirements and lifestyle, I learnt a lot and it gave me an excellent base in nutrition, fitness and mindset to build on with my next challenge.
I learnt how to cook like an adult, not a uni student. I learnt about the composition of food and the best ways and times our bodies need fuel to perform at their best. I started to remove the emotional attachments I had to food. I’m not perfect with this and still can’t shake my morning coffee but have moved from a large flat white to a piccolo latter to avoid all the milk and still enjoy the coffee flavours.
I lost about 4kg before our wedding and felt magnificent in my wedding dress, which was designed for me and customised to fit my new body like a glove. It was when I was sitting by pool the pool in Nusa Dua, Bali on our honeymoon that I thought, “What next? What is going to be my next fitness challenge? WHat will push me out of my comfort zone and what kind of exercise do I love doing?”
I loved the weight lifting aspects of the 12WBT. So I researched! Powerlifting….Bodybuilding. I looked at YouTube videos and saw that I could combine the drama and theatre of the stage and the challenge of sculpting your body to be competitive. I realised it was more than golden spray tans and bulging muscles. The bikini division models looked lean, strong and healthy. I thought “Why not me? I’m willing to do the work!” Could this dorky lawyer love her body and flaunt the hard work in that way? My career doesn’t necessarily value the body, it values the brain. But why can’t I respect and place value on both aspects in my life?
I then researched the federation I wanted to compete in and researched coaches. I liked the idea of the INBA federation. It’s a family show, and has illegal supplement testing.
When researching coaches, Cleo Brown’s name came up time and time again. I met with her, fell in love with her sustainable and flexible approach. The Olympia Creed on the wall of her gym just spoke straight to my soul. She is educated, intelligent and a total Ladyboss wrangler. She is realistic, honest and does not perpetuate any crazy, drastic and unhealthy practices in her training. Her program aligned with values. The Olympia team is made up of the most incredible humans, from all walks of life.
What about the actual competing, and training part of the preparation for stage? How are your finding the process?
My only competition is myself. And the person that I was yesterday. She was pretty good but I want her to be great. I am competitive with myself, and hold myself to high standards in all things. It’s a personality trait that I think I’ve always held.
I try to be well rounded in mind, body and soul. It’s all about balance. Lately, my body has taken priority but I’m focussing on soul more this month, bringing back mindfulness, meditation (my brain is always buzzing) and switching off from all tech at least one hour before bed.
I’m aware of my body. If I need more sleep, I will miss training but make sure that my nutrition is on point that day. I try to get regular massages and foam roll daily to maintain flexibility. I do need more yoga in my life though.
I’ve elevated my goal from “I want to have the confidence to get on stage,” to “I want to be competitive and get a call out,” to “I want to win”. I will know that I put in 100% but I can’t it underestimate the competition. I know it will be fierce. The girls are coming in leaner and leaner. Shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you’ll land amongst the stars.
I’m not sure if it will be a one time thing. They say everything changes once you get up on stage. I might find that my body shape is more competitive in another division and I might want to try and compete again next year but for now, just one big goal at a time.
You are a self-titled “Snapchat Queen” and are full of energy, enthusiasm and positivity – what is your aim for Snapchat?
It originally started, because there was a problem I was trying to solve – keep my mum informed about bodybuilding, I told her “Get on snapchat and follow me and I’ll show you my meals and workouts and what I do”.
It’s kept getting bigger and bigger! I linked it from my other social accounts, Instagram, Facebook, and my blog. I started getting people I didn’t know. I haven’t got any haters… yet. I don’t think i’m divisive enough in my opinions. But I say “bring it on” to any online haters or trolls because you can’t have lovers without haters. Even Rosie Batty has haters and that women has been to hell and back. If you put yourself out there, it’s part of our society now. I’m not bothered by keyboard warriors who are so strong behind their computer screens. I’m only concerned about the opinion of the people in my circle of influence, people I respect and people who have take the path before me. Everything else is just background noise. What someone says behind your back is actually none of your business and in any event, people aren’t thinking about you much as you think. They are too caught up in their own thoughts and their own world, which is quite liberating!
I follow a lot of different people, entrepreneurs and fitness inspiration as well as friends and family, I can choose the kind of content I want to receive and It’s delivered in short bursts. I think snapchat will become the new reality TV and it’s so potent because the viewer has control on who they watch.
I want my followers to be drawn to my content because I’ll leave them feeling happy, inspired, entertained and like they’ve caught up with a positive, happy friend. If they don’t feel that, I’m not delivering the content that I’m aiming to deliver.
I’m developing my style and what people want. People always want MORE! I’m getting feedback, “I went to the gym today because of you!” I get snaps of mini coopers from all over the world now. My viewers know how much I love these little cars and that I call them my lucky minis, like a lucky charm, when I see one, i feel like it’s going to be a good day. It’s a bit of fun to break up the day. I’ve always loved these cars and I would love one one day. It’s a goal of mine.
How did the name, Snapchat Queen come about?
Troy [her husband] has always called me Princess. Now that I’m married, we thought I should change my nickname to Queen. Once I realised I could pin the crown emoji to my head on snapchat, it was game on! But everyone should feel like a Queen or a King, in charge and in control of their direction, in the driver’s seat of their life. Not all day, every day but most of the time, absolutely!
You’ve also started a blog, “Pearls and Protein“, can you tell North of Here readers about it, and why you started it?
I started it mainly for my colleagues and other professionals in my network. The questions I answer are real. The first one was literally an email from an old colleague in the city.
I like challenging people’s perception of me – breaking that mold. They were scared I was going to get big and bulky and only eat chicken and broccoli. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The aesthetic I’m looking to achieve is like that of a Women’s Health magazine cover girl. Strong, lean, happy and healthy. Glowing. The training and the nutrition is different but not un-achievable. It requires preparation, consistency and discipline. Just like getting a law degree really.
I’ve realised there is no stereotype in competing but there is one common denominator – how hard you are willing to work. For the first time in a long time, I was no longer Mel the Lawyer – I was just Mel.In the gym, it isn’t about what you do, it’s about they type of person you are. This was liberating.
So far on your bodybuilding journey – what has surprised or shocked you – that you didn’t expect?
I’ve had so many surprises! In fact, every preconceived idea has been challenged. The people who do this – in all honesty, I thought it was for people who were all muscle and vanity. It’s not. It’s for people who want to be a better version of themselves, and challenge themselves. It’s for people who want to go outside their comfort zone and largely, people who really respect their body like a machine. There are some sections of the industry that do harm to themselves, with steroids and other questionable supplements, I’m not naive to this but I’ve found a team and a federation that aligns with my values of natural achievement and even playing field values, a true meritocracy as far as I can tell.
I resonate with them. Connected with like minded people and supporting each other. I am so happy that I followed my intuition and signed up with Cleo. I’ve lost body fat but I’m also lost a layer of anxiety, stress, negative body thoughts and fear. Fear of judgement, fear of failure. Fear of doing something outside of my comfort zone.
Competing with a coach? It all comes down to the budget – if you can make it work, I highly recommend it. It won’t necessarily make you a winner, but you will do well! If you need a helping hand – this is something for you. If you enjoy community, support from like minded people and others who are treading the path with you.
You’re a lawyer, wife, blogger, friend, mentor and more – how do you juggle it all?
Preparation is key, as well as prioritising each day and each week to maximise the value you bring to your life those of your friends, family, colleagues and community.
Again, it’s all about balance. Sometimes I have to focus on one area more than another but I try to balance out my days as much as possible. I value time with my nearest and dearest and make sure it’s quality over quantity when we catch up. We all have full schedules. But when I do see my best friends or my family, it’s always fun, happy and positive times. I always try to leave someone feeling happier than when I first found them, in some small way. I haven’t really got time for negativity or negative people.
Are you finding the juggle hard?
Not. One, bit. The moment it becomes hard or doesn’t bring me joy, I stop. This doesn’t usually happen because I won’t start something unless I think I’ll enjoy it, for the most part. We all have less happy moments or items that are more challenging. It’s never hard. It’s never a ‘grind’. It’s a privilege to be able to have a career I love, a hobby I am passionate about and a home life that is safe and secure. It didn’t happen by accident but I don’t take it for granted. I can afford a gym, that wasn’t always the case. I can afford lovely gym gear that makes me feel great. That wasn’t always the case. Never forget where you come from. What I have right now is what I’ve always ever wanted. 20 year old Mel is very proud.
I love it, I don’t find it hard because I enjoy it, I live with gratitude, I’m living a life I’ve designed. You don’t end up with a law degree without choice. There is not much in my life that doesn’t bring me joy. But that doesn’t happen by accident. I am designing a life I love. I’ve probably been doing this for over a decade now, you don’t make up one day with a great job, a great husband and a body you love. It takes consistency. But they time will pass anyway so why not make good use of it and make yourself proud.
I’ve built my life and now I’m building my body. My body and mindset is on point at the moment. What I focus on is I don’t get paid to blog and bodybuilding. They are hobbies.
I get paid to be a Lawyer- that’s number one along with Troy. Family first. Then business. My hobbies are supporting my productivity but if push comes to shove and I need to work later to deliver for a client, will then I doing that. But I manage my time well and have boundaries with clients too, that they respect, after working with me for 3 years. My focus at work is quality over quantity. I could work 14 hours of average work with averts energy or I could work 8 hours with productivity, focussing on outcomes for clients rather than getting bogged down in tasks that don’t add value. I work in a team and for a company that support this approach.
The first year of marriage – that is a priority. We have date night no less than once a fortnight – we get dressed up, and have a special meal. I generally couple it with my treat meal.
If you could give your younger self (18 year-old self) three pieces of advice, what would they be?
- Troy is the one. Country boys are the ones you need to look for. The man that challenges you. That respects you. That supports you in anything that is good for you and who is truly a team player. Together, you can achieve anything because teamwork makes the dream work.
- Have a gap year Mel. You’ve got your scholarship to Bond Uni – they are not going to take it away from you. So take a year off to travel. Go somewhere. Even just for 6 months. You’re still going to study law. You’re still going to graduate in your early 20’s. Stop being so impatient. Go and explore the world.
- You are absolutely magnificent. You are capable of more than you know. Surround yourself with the most supportive people and you will do be able to anything you set your mind. Continue to love and respect your family, you need their influence more than you realise, you independent thing. Oh, and your mother is always right. Seriously.
Can you tell us about some of the challenges you face when it comes to looking after yourself?
Fitting it all in. I have lots of energy now and I and want to do all of the things every day. I can sometimes times try to fit in too much and end up flapping about without focus and attention to detail. I’ve got to be careful I don’t bite off more than I can chew. I’ve got to actively and consciously book in down time, with no tech, no activity, just total Netflix and chill time.
What does your current training routine look like?
- 3 x cardio sessions a week: outdoors group class, stair master, HIIT, a run around the Brisbane river.
- 3 x weight training a week: compound movements, heavy over specific, back/bi’s, chest/tris and legs/glutes
- I would love more yoga in more life. Focus on foam rolling and stretching but could always do more.
What are your [current] favourite workout clothes and why?
My Active Truth tights. They’re a local Brisbane company, Nadia and Stevie are two great friends who launched Active Truth in April. The core support band is amazing and doesn’t rolling down during training. The confetti print makes me happy. They stock sizes 8 – 22 and I think that’s awesome so all women can feel amazing and comfortable when they work out. All products are Australian made and super high quality.
Where (or who) do you turn to for fitness motivation?
My coach Cleo Brown, my workout buddy and friend Annisa Belonogoff who has had an amazing journey of her own from 30kg weight lost to epic bodybuilder who has competed on the world stage.
Grocery shopping is generally a pain, what are some of your favourite foods that you buy that make you feel great?
Firstly, I love the free Click & Collect services at Woolworths, it saves so much time if you are organised and pre order your groceries. Chobani yoghurt products are awesome, high protein and delicious. I try to collect all my food from the outside aisles,except for herbs and spices, some sauces and Troy’s favourite Old Gold chocolate. Having frozen fruit in the freezer is always a good idea. Easy to make smoothies. I cut up ripe bananas and have them on hand to add to a protein shake.
What is your favourite recipe at the moment?
Protein pancakes with chobani and blueberries. The recipe is on my blog. It fits my meal plan, is delicious and the protein keeps me fuller for longer.
What are your three top health tips for living a healthy lifestyle?
1. Understand, with clarity, what your goals actually are. What are you trying to achieve, what does health like look and FEEL like to you. When do you want to achieve them. And write it down. Nothing is real until it written down and spoken aloud.
2. Be consistent. Meeting your goals takes time, consistency and discipline. The time will pass anyway so you may as well have something to show for it!
3. Question your relationship with alcohol. This can be difficult and confronting, especially in our society, I acknowledge that. But ask yourself: Why do you need to unwind or relax with a wine? Could a tea and a warm bath do the same thing? Are you even tasting, savouring and enjoying the joy of the drink or are you mindlessly guzzling it down then reaching for another. It is important to focus on quality over quantity with all things in our life.
What does ‘wellness’ mean to you’?
Balance. Joy. Gratitude.
What are five things in your workout bag?
- Heart rate monitor $90 from rebel sport
- Resistance band for stretching, assisted chin ups and single arm row
- My Friendie Audio headphones, they are white and gold and so boss. I feel a bit gangsta and I love them.
- Killer playlist to spur me on in the weights room
- Notepad and pen to track my workouts, calories burnt, the weights I am lifting and my progress over time
What is one thing you do for yourself, for your sanity/health/well-being that you do everyday without fail?
Read Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach, a passage a day for the entire year. It is changing my life. I am significantly more grateful, mindful and content with what I have.
North of Here aims to help me live a positive lifestyle, and aim for their true north – what does health and happiness ultimately look like for you in a sentence?
For me, being healthy and happy starts and finishes with my mind. If my thoughts are positive, my actions are positive, my habits are positive and my life will be positive. It doesn’t happen by accident, it takes consistency, time and effort. But what is the alternative? Living without passion, living with fear and not trying to change it? No thanks.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT MEL:
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, or know of someone that you’d like to NOMINATE, please email me: hello <at> northofhere.com.au or send me a message on instagram, facebook or snapchat!