When Melissa Lewis realised that her health condition was causing just more than reproductive problems, she decided that it was time to make a change. Through some trial and error, she found something that sparked a passion, totally changed her body — and life!
City: Cape Town
Occupation: Career Centre Coordinator
Weight before: 68kgs
Weight after: 53kgs
Time required to reach goal: 1 year
Secret weapon to my fitness journey: Knowing my caloric requirements for the day, tracking my macros and weight training.
“My story began in 2011 when I first discovered that I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and would have trouble conceiving. At the time I was newly married and never thought I would find myself in this situation. It was a long struggle but with help from an incredible team of doctors, in 2013 we managed to have my son, Ryder”, explains Melissa.
In 2017, Melissa and her husband decided to try for a second child but due to her PCOS, it proved difficult. Having gone off the contraceptive pill, which helped keep her condition under control, she gained weight. “I had put on a ton of weight, being my heaviest ever with my blood sugar registering in the pre-diabetic range and my blood pressure being sky high. I felt terrible. My lack of self-confidence and the dive my health had taken was affecting all aspects of my life”, she says.
Melissa says that she knew it was time for her to make the change. She joined her local gym and entered a trail run to hold herself accountable. In the beginning, she stuck to running but found that it wasn’t making much difference. “Although I was able to run further each week I didn’t see much change in my body and the weight was just hanging on. I’d try to restrict what I was eating or turn to a drastic diet or cleanse in an attempt to lose weight quickly. But they weren’t sustainable or healthy”, she says.
Realising that this approach was not working, Melissa discovered ‘If It Fits Your Macros’. “It’s not a fad diet but more of a lifestyle. I know how many calories and how many macronutrients (carbs, fat and protein) I need to consume each day to reach a certain goal”, she explains.
Whatever her goals are, she made sure that she created a weekly meal plan and prepped her meals in advance, which she says made it’s easier to stick to and follow. And the best part- you can still have your favourite foods. “If I wanted a few slices of pizza I knew that I could fit that into my macros for the day by relooking and calculating them or by planning a cheat meal once a week in advance. This meant that I never felt deprived, but I also had a structure which I feel I needed to be successful”, she says.
When it came to revamping her workout, Melissa ventured to weights section of the gym.”I came across some weight training tutorials online and decided to give the ‘boys corner’ of the gym a try. And this is where everything changed. I found myself falling in love with lifting”, she says. Coupled with counting her macros and weight training, Melissa had lost 8 kilos within 3 months, and her body was taking shape. “I started to feel not only like I was getting my body back but like I had found something I was passionate about”.
With her passion for weight lifting came a desire to challenge herself, and she did just that. “I decided to enter the Biogen Summer Superbodies and bravely started a 12-week prep with a workout and eating plan”. She goes on to say that preparing for the competition for tough but she got through it.
“Diet and exercise changed every 4 weeks leaving me with 3 phases. The purpose of each phase was to raise the intensity level and focused on both muscle tone and fat loss. Most days I was in the gym twice a day for an hour to an hour and a half for each session. My eating was very clean, I ate every 3 hours to fuel my metabolism and my diet consisted of oats, chicken breast, egg whites, broccoli, green beans, rice and salad”, she explains.
All Melissa’s sacrifice and hard work paid off when she placed third in the bikini fitness competition. “I started off lacking self-confidence completely and felt as though I had achieved all I could in life and that this is all I would be. When I look back at my first gym selfie I remember how terrible I felt at that moment. As I started to see results and watch my body transform my confidence started to grow”. Weight training has changed more than just Melissa’s body and confidence, her health has improved too. “My glucose levels are registering completely normal at 4.7, my blood pressure is a neat 120/80 and I have found confidence. Fitness has given me life. I wake up each morning feeling ready to conquer the world”, she explains. Melissa goes on to say that the best part of this experience has not been about losing the weight but rather finding herself and her passion for fitness.
- Don’t put yourself in a box: “You are strong and capable of doing so much more”.
- Food is fuel: “Eat food that will fuel your body and give you energy”.
- Set goals: “One big goal that scares you and forces you out of your comfort zone, for me it was first the trail run and then the bikini fitness competition. But also set monthly and weekly goals. I sit down every Sunday night and write out my goals for the week. This helps me to feel like I am constantly achieving and keeps me on track to reach my bigger goals”.