Nathalia Melo

Form of Fitness: Weightlifting is my thing… I am a former IFBB Bikini Pro and Olympia Champion, but my ‘’love story’’ with the gym started 21 years ago, when I was only 14.

How Did You Get Into Fitness?

I was always into sports, and I loved the fit and strong look of the women who went to the gym, so I decided to start hitting the weights.

The only problem was that my mom wasn’t very supportive of me going to the gym, and as a broke teenager, the only ‘’source of income’’ I had was my allowance.

Back then, in Brazil- where I am from, gym memberships were quite expensive so, I used to save my allowance for a month and half in order to be able to pay for it.

I also had to take the bus to go to the gym, as my mom wouldn’t drive me there either, so I would spend up to 3 hours in the gym to make my money’s worth!

How do you include fitness in your lifestyle? Fitness is a HUGE part of my life, and even more so now that I have 2 small children ( a 2 ½ year old and a 1 ½ year old).

Motherhood can be quite overwhelming and make you lose your sense of self. Especially with all the physical and emotional changes it brings.

I feel like the gym is a daily reminder that the ‘’old me’’ is still there too. It is amazing to spend that time working hard and doing something for myself, when during the remainder of the day I focus mostly on my family and my business.

Not to mention that the endorphins from training make me a much better mom.  

What motivates/inspires you in life and your fitness?

My kids, my family, and the girls that I train in my programs. I can’t talk the talk, if I am not walking the walk. I can’t ask them to take some time for themselves, if I am not doing just that. I can’t ask them to love their bodies and be confident in their skin, when I am not.

Tell us your story

Training has always been a huge part of my life, but when I first moved to the US for good, roughly 15 years ago, I gained a substantial amount of weight. I don’t remember the exact amount, but I do know I went from a size 2 to a VERY snug size 10 (probably was a 12, if we are being honest). I was literally ordering burgers every night (not just ANY burger, the whole thing with bacon, extra cheese, mayo, extra fries on the side etc.), thinking that the 30 minutes’ walk on the treadmill was going to even it all out. Then, one day as I was about to take a bite of my daily burger, a friend looked at me and shouted across the room: "Do you really think you should be eating that right now? You are literally bursting out of your clothes!" .   I knew he was right, and quite frankly, that right there was what I needed to get it together. I was extremely unhappy with the way I looked but I was still living in denial and I even asked the sales lady at Abercrombie if they had changed the design of their jeans because they were "quite small now".Eh... "NOT 8 sizes smaller, hun"- I am sure that's what they wanted to say. . That was it. That was the day I started making small changes to the way I ate. I was able to lose some weight and get back to a place where I was more comfortable and confident in my body, but a few years in I felt a bit lost and without a purpose or something to keep me moving forward. That’s when I decided to sign up for a fitness competition… This was back in 2009. Bikini was a new division and I decided to give it a try. At the time I was working as a bartender so the hours were crazy, and there was a whole lot of drinking involved. Everyone laughed at me when I told them about my plans to compete, and I was determined to prove every single one of them wrong. I won my first 4 competitions, and qualified for the Olympia the very following year. I had the honor of competing in the first ever Bikini Olympia. In 2012 I took the first-place trophy, and it was quite possibly one of the most amazing experiences of my life (after giving birth to my children).

Even though I am now in a different stage of my life and competing is most definitely not in my plans, I must say that I would NOT be the person I am today if it wasn’t for the experience I had competing. Competing taught me about discipline, commitment and resilience I NEVER thought I had. Competing made me believe in myself, and it made me see that when you work hard at something, sooner or later what you are working for does come to you. And finally, all those lessons learned from competing have shaped the resilient, driven, and determined person I am today.

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