Meet Melissa Weldon, also know as @thrutheblue on social media networking sites Twitter and Instagram. Those that are fortunate to know her personally cannot help but be effected by her drive, determination, focus, and ambition to want the best not only for herself, but for her two children. After solely adopting body-weight training as her preferred method of keeping fit and active during 2012, coupled with briefly being a Nike Training Club Instructor / Ambassador at the University where she studied last year, Mel found her calling within Body-Building / Strong Lifts.
I caught up with Mel earlier this week to talk about her amazing transformation in only 26 weeks of taking up Body-Building, her thoughts on the male dominance within the free weights area of gyms and how she juggles her personal goals with the demands of being a Mother.
I began the interview by asking the following question.
Fitness has always been a huge part of your life. What disciplines / training methods did you use to implement into your workouts before deciding to take up body-building?
I was fortunate enough to grow up pretty actively; dancing, swimming and taking part in gymnastics as a child. So being active always came naturally to me. In my early 20’s I danced three or four times a week and then fell into the fitness industry where I qualified and taught various group exercise classes.
I did little free weights at that point but never seriously. After having my children, and becoming overweight, I got back into fitness but was restricted by time and money, so I ran half marathon races and did bodyweight training at home.
What ultimately inspired you to take up this sport?
Results! Very, very simply. I was results driven. I had dieted and tried everything BUT lifting heavy weights in a bid to get my “pre-baby body” back. They didn’t work. I was inspired by Bradley Aidan Johnson’s transformation and wanted the same for myself, so I started training with him in January. The rest is history.
Men usually tend to dominate the free weights section of the gym. Describe your first experiences as female weight training in this area.
I was extremely nervous of the free-weights section. Firstly, I did not like to think of myself as a novice, which is what I was and still am for the time being. I was afraid of looking silly. Secondly, many of the men in the free-weights section were intimidating, probably unwillingly but that’s how it felt.
What advice would you give women wanting to train within the free weights area but are too intimated to do so given the male dominance?
Would you let a man intimidate you in real life? At work, home, out and about? Probably and hopefully not, so why should the gym be an exception? You pay for your membership and are entitled to results just like anyone else. So go ahead and get them.
Be focused and enjoy yourself and actually, you’ll find once they get over the initial shock 98% of them are friendly and helpful. As for the other 2%, be assertive. I’ve been training in my gym 5x a week for the last 28 weeks and I still get the odd dude find it appropriate to steal from my rack. I stand up for myself and it won’t happen again. If you find this hard…”fake it till you make it!”
Talk us through your current training regime.
Right now, Bradley has me doing the Ice Cream Fitness 5 x 5 Novice Full Body, which is a three days a week program, focusing on big compound lifts with heavy weights. For example, Squats, Dead-lifts, Bench Press and Rows are a few of those. Usually I do Barbell Complexes twice a week, which is a kind of cardio aimed specifically at making my cardiovascular systems work more effectively for my lifts. If you have ever dead-lifted 1.5x your bodyweight, you’ll know you need good cardio fitness for that!
As it’s the kids’ holidays now, I have restricted myself to three gym based sessions a week, so have temporarily dropped my Barbell Complex work and am doing Tabata HIIT training twice a week to keep my CV System challenged and I do Chins-Ups as part of that session, building myself up to adding weighted chin-ups to my 5×5 sessions.
Out of the many different lifts you perform, what is your personal favourite lift and why?
This varies from week to week. Initially it was squats, but I try not to favour a lift as mentally it can impact on how you priorities them. However, saying that, I love Squats, Dead-lifts and Bench Press. They challenge me the most and I am at my strength capacities on all of them, so every session is touch and go. I love that!
How do you keep the determination and desire to stay motivated?
I am extremely competitive with myself. I want to get stronger. This is enough to make sure that every session, I give it 100%. That doesn’t mean I always find it easy though, today’s session had me in tears because I was having an off day. But my desire to succeed hugely outweighs my lazy gene. (And yes that does exist in me)
My children are a massive motivation to me. I want my children to grow up healthy and strong, with a desire to succeed. By showing them what I can do, I hope they catch some of my drive and determination and bring that to their own passions.
Diet is an essential part of any fitness regime; do you follow a particular diet regime?
I follow BAJ Method, which essentially teaches you to control you engine, otherwise known as your body. By following Bradley’s Macro and Calorie numbers I can lose fat, gain muscle, maintain weight or bulk. I am currently in a period of metabolic repair, meaning I am raising my TDEE (how much food I can metabolize in a day) by slowing adding calories every week.
For those unaware of the term ‘BAJ Method’ please describe in your own words what this process means?
Very simply, BAJ Method enables the user to hit their goals by eating very specific macronutrients. It’s specifically designed for people who lift heavy and their goals will generally be to “Cut”, “Bulk” or “Maintain”. Macros are Protein, Fat and Carbs, with thought to the fourth essential macro which is fiber. Depending on goals, the user will have a daily calorie number and specific amounts of Protein and Fat to hit each day.
Describe the personal benefits you have experienced since you began your strong lifts journey six months ago?
This has been an incredible journey for me. It started as a vanity mission, to regain my pre-baby figure but now it is so much more than that. I have exceeded my aesthetic goals and it has changed my whole outlook. I’m happier, more confident and more driven. I still want to look good but my desire for strength is what keeps me going.
What has been the most challenging part of your strength training journey?
Firstly, removing my emotional connection to the weight scales and not getting worried or happy about weight changes. My weight is simply a tool to help me run my body efficiently for my goals. Secondly, form. Form is a constant battle to get right consistently and it can floor you! I record many of my lifts to watch back and send to Bradley for feedback.
As a mother to two children under the age of 10, how do you personally balance family time and your time?
You just make it work. I train when my kids are at school or I use the crèche facility as and when I need it. It’s not ideal sometimes but my training is very important to me as an individual, so I make it work. As a mother, it’s very important not to neglect your “me time”, the children need to understand you are a person as well as mummy.
Please share with us your favourite quote / mantra… Why is this significant to you?
Samuel Beckett said “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” and it really rings true to me. Failure is part of growth, be that as a person or as a lifter. It’s what makes you stronger and although it might burn at the time, it’s an essential part of the process.
What are your goals for 2014?
2014 is going to be a big year for me strength wise. I’ll be training directly with Bradley from August, so I expect my strength and technique to take a steep curve upwards. I want to take my training to the next level; perfecting form which is currently a little shaky and I’d like to hit some big milestones weight wise. I’m shooting for 120kg Dead-lifts, Squats I will be aiming for 100kg and Bench 60kg in 2014.
A few people have asked if I’ll compete in figure competitions next year, which was the initial plan. However, I’m not 100% sure if I will. I guess it depends on where my physique is and whether I can win or not. I see no point in competing unless I am in a position to place first and rightly people train for years for that! I’d like competing to me a culmination of lots of hard work, instead of a quick fix race!
There is nothing more I love than seeing than fellow women literally hold their own in a male dominated environment, be it on the gym floor at the free weights section, at work / university or within every day situations. Melissa is a prime example breaking the stereotypes surrounding women and strength and hope to see more females strength training in the free weights section.
Do not pay no mind to the myths surrounding women lifting heavy… you WILL NOT turn you into Hulk ladies! You only have to search the likes of Suzanne Svanevik, Lita Lewis, Bella Falconi and Massy aka Mankofit to see that these awesome, super strong women still indeed look feminine whilst displaying a great athletic physique they all worked so hard for!
I shall conclude this article with Melissa’s awesome 26 week transformation video. This short video captures the haaard work, dedication and desire Mel has committed to in order achieve results. The last 26 weeks has been fantastic to watch and I eagerly look forward to seeing her progress even further as we begin the second half of 2013.
If this article has left you inspired and you want to continue following Melissa’s amazing progress, you can find her fitness blog online by visiting thrutheblue.me , by following her on Twitter and Instagram and by subscribing to your youtube channel