It’s Motivation Monday and sweet summertime is in full swing. This week, we really want you to focus on what makes you feel energized and happy. Take time for you! ♡
We’re incredibly proud of her and amazed by her wisdom! You’re going to LOVE her uplifting story…and her helpful tips too!
Tell us about yourself!
Hi! I’m Melissa and I’m from Winnipeg, Canada, which is just 45 minutes north of the North Dakota border. I like to try a little bit of everything. After finishing two degrees I went from musical theatre, to being a makeup artist, and now I’m a high school choir teacher! Last summer I married my best friend, Chris, and we have a rescued Husky-Rottweiler puppy named Max.
How much time passed between your before and after pics?
My journey has not been a short one. I’m not one of those girls who lost all the weight in 8 weeks, or even a year. I’ve been on the path to fitness for 8 years. This is not to say I didn’t work hard, because I did. But it’s hard to keep going when you feel like you’re not making any progress or that everyone else is seeing more dramatic results than you. The lessons I learned on patience, hard work, and dedication have empowered me in every aspect of life and Tone It Up has helped me learn to love my body and be proud of all my accomplishments. Believe me, all those little victories add up if you keep going!
What was your biggest inspiration to finally make a change in your life?
I was overweight through my teen years, constantly being bullied for my size. I was called fatty, chubby, and stumpy because I’m short and the boys told me I looked like a fat tree stump. I thought it would be different in university, but it wasn’t and I ended up struggling with bulimia for 2 and a half years. It ended one day when I woke up on the side of the road, having passed out biking to work. I wanted to change but I didn’t know how. I joined my first gym and when the consultant asked me my goal weight I told her 115lb. She looked at me very seriously and asked if I wanted to chose a more attainable goal, maybe 125-130lb. I was so discouraged that not even I fitness establishment believed in me but I wanted to prove them wrong. I’d always admired runners, and after that conversation at the gym I decided to take up running. It all started when I told myself I COULD and that I would, and I wouldn’t stop just because it was hard.
What goals did you set for yourself in order to make a change?
For me, deadlines always help and training for a half marathon gave me a deadline. The BIKINI SERIES and other Tone It Up challenges are great too because they give me a set amount of time to give it my all, and then I can enjoy the results while maintaining and resting for the next big push. It’s the perfect setup to keep focused and strong. You see results without getting discouraged.
How did you find out about Tone It Up?
Back in January 2013 I was busy planning my wedding and gathering ideas from any source I could find. I kept seeing all this stuff about Tone It Up on Instagram, so I had to check it out. I found a couple Tone It Up videos on YouTube and was SO impressed that they had their workouts online, for free! After that I was hooked! I did every workout, watched every video, bought the Nutrition Plan, and dove in to the community, heart first.
How did you keep yourself motivated to keep going?
Honestly, we all have our ups and downs, but this community is so incredibly unique. I’ve NEVER found a group of women like the Tone It Up girls. We genuinely care about one another and are proud of each other’s accomplishments. We keep each other accountable and encourage one another, so when one girl is successful we all feel successful because we’re in it together. I can say 100% that I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for this community, I couldn’t do this alone.
Did you have any setbacks along the way? If so, how did you overcome them?
A few years ago I was diagnosed severely anemic. I was constantly sick and exhausted to the point where I couldn’t make it through a full work day without a nap. I would go out to my car and sleep in the back seat on my lunch breaks just to survive. On top of this my heart rate would race to 180 bpm just from walking a flight of stairs. I had a choice to make. Live with it and manage the symptoms, or try to beat it. It was hard, and their were so many workouts where my body just didn’t want to go anymore, but I was determined not to let this label limit my life. With a positive and determined attitude and the support of the TIU team I was able to train, and run my first full marathon this spring AND after years of battling anemia, get it back in control!
How has following the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan contributed to your success?
Nutrition is key! The Tone It Up Nutrition Plan was the last piece of the puzzle I needed. I had lost weight running, I lost more when I added strength training and toning, but then I hit a plateau. I had been eating well for the most part, but the healthy recipes they have that actually taste good and are easy to make made it easier to follow than most of the nutrition plans I’d encountered. It is a lifestyle plan, not a crash diet. And because it was so easy to follow, my success from sticking with it was unbelievable!
What are you doing now to keep up with your healthy lifestyle?
My fitness journey is far from over. I’ve come a long way but I love the challenge of pushing my body to the next level. I still follow the nutrition plan while allowing treats, like ice cream dates with my TIU sister @connortiu! And summer is the perfect time to try new activities! Connor and I have stand up paddle boarding on our summer bucket lists and will be crossing that off on soon! We also get together a few times a week to do the scheduled workouts and we keep each other accountable the other days of the week. And of course, lots of running! I love running!
What are some of your favorite healthy foods and snacks? What did you have for lunch today?
I love to party and entertain so I’m a big fan of all the TIU drinks! The Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies are always a huge hit too. And for a delicious summer BBQ I love to grill up the Hawaiian Turkey Burgers, or make some Spicy Shrimp Cucumber Wraps. The Babe Pops are also a favorite, especially the watermelon honey pop. And people are ALWAYS asking me for the recipe to the Spicy Avocado spread! Lunch today will be the Mango Thai Wraps!
How do you treat yourself while staying on track?
Moderation is key. If I’m eating clean 90% percent of the time then I don’t feel bad about having a treat! One great tip someone shared with me was to always make sure your treat is at the end of the day, that way your treat meal doesn’t turn into a treat day! But tomorrow is a fresh start. Make smart choices and your body will thank you. I’ve also noticed that my taste buds have changed and most of the time I find myself wanting cleaner versions of treats anyway.
What is your workout routine like?
I workout 6 days a week with active rest on either Saturday or Sunday. I do strength training and toning Monday-Friday, a heavy cardio day (long run usually) on either Saturday or Sunday, and then do some light cross-training on my rest day. I have a love/hate relationship with Booty Calls (right up their with my foam roller!). I’m not a huge morning person but never regret getting up for that first workout, even if it’s only 10 minutes of abs. It sets the tone for my day, and always seems to help me make healthier choices throughout my day. The rest of my workout is done after work but before dinner.
What is your favorite TIU workout?
I really can’t choose just one! I LOVE the Daisy Dukes, MaliBooty, Bikini Abs, and Katrina’s kettlebell workout! I LOVE LOVE LOVE that you girls are helping me improve my pistol squats!
What advice would you give someone who needs motivation and encouragement to get healthier?
Don’t let labels, expectations, excuses, or even genetics limit your potential. You shape who you are by the choices you make. It’s ok to fail, because it’s in those moments that we have the greatest opportunity to learn and grow. Never forget to love your body on every stage of your journey. Never compare your progress to someone else’s, just love your body, fuel it well, and be proud of every accomplishment, no matter how small it may be.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself during this journey?
One of the most incredible things I’ve learned on my journey is how the physical lessons transfer into character development that benefit every aspect of my life. Things like perseverance, determination, and struggle are obvious ones, but the importance of rest, the importance of change to keep from becoming stagnant, and the way encouraging and supporting OTHERS is equally beneficial to your own growth, are lessons that have impacted the choices I make at work and with friends and family. You are capable of more than you can imagine, and when you reach your fullest potential the bar is raised again, allowing you to push to even high places.
Tell us about your current goals? What are you looking forward to in the next few months.
My next big goal is to run a 1:45 half marathon in October followed by a sub-4 hour marathon finish next spring. I also want to complete an olympic distance triathlon! The BIG dream is to qualify and run Boston.
The team wants to connect with you! What are your social media handles on Twitter & Instagram?
Find me on Instagram: @melissahart8
Start living the healthy, happy, energetic life you’re meant to be living! Join the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan today & become a Tone It Up MEMBER!!
Have you seen all the BIKINI SERIES success stories!? We’re so proud of EVERYONE who submitted their photos and transformation!! Remember that on Motivation Mondays, we feature Tone It Up Transformations and Tone It Up Program Success Stories!
We’ll be sharing more Success Stories in the weeks to come!! For all of you just joining the Nutrition Program~ WELCOME!! It will truly be the best decision you’ve ever made for your health and happiness.
The Latest special edition is the Summer Sizzle Edition! You’ll love the sweet and savory taste of summer~
Read more about the SUMMER SIZZLE EDITION HERE!