Never have I seen a hue of blue with so much energy and intensity...I should have known then that the fierceness wasn’t just in the color of her turquoise eyes, it penetrated much deeper. As I spent more time with her, I was certain it flowed relentlessly through her body as I witnessed it in everything she set out to do. Most people attribute her fierce drive to her competitive nature, and actually, she does too; but I see so much more. Within her bewitching gaze, I see more than just pretty blue eyes and a competitive spirit. I see the passion, the power and the desire to live life intentionally and with so much purpose. I see the strength of the ocean. That’s why its so ironic that for years she has held so much of herself back, but just like a tsunami rushing towards the shoreline, Melissa Wall is now proving to be unstoppable.

This 21 day challenge was not Melissa’s first time out to sea. Like most women who begin to work on their health and fitness goals, she has set sail on numerous occasions to only fall overboard, and with every setback, the current has become increasingly harder to fight. This is a crucial turning point where she had been before and once again, had to decide whether she would sink or swim. As her coach, I needed to help Melissa dig deeper to find the strength and the will to move forward. We both knew she was physically strong enough to achieve her goals, but it was her mindset and lack of belief in herself that kept pulling her under.

Our mind can be our worst enemy...if we let it be. Have you ever looked in the mirror and found it difficult to recognize the reflection? Do you ever feel like the little girl you were in your childhood and no matter what you do, you can’t grow past her? Are you holding yourself back because you are afraid of who you might become? Can you not imagine yourself any other way? Do you feel like you have unrealistic expectations of yourself?

For Melissa the answer is yes to all and now, she is waging a war against all of these demons. I remember my heart breaking when I was having a talk with Melissa a while back. I had shown her a photo I had taken of her when she was stretching at the track. I was so amazed at how she was starting to transform her body and I was encouraging her to keep pushing forward and telling her that her physical body can be whatever she creates it to be as long as she believes in it. For the first time ever, the sparkle in her eyes dimmed as if someone just pulled the plug and all the electricity went dead. It caught me off guard and I just stared back at her waiting for her to speak. As she stared at the photo, Melissa said, “Liza, that is not me. Where is my belly? That can’t be me. I’ve been fat since I was 5 years old. I’ve never been thin and even in high school I never shopped for clothes in all the trendy stores that girls my age shopped in. I don’t know what it means to be sexy let alone what it feels like. I didn’t fit in with the girly girls and chose to play all the sports with my brother and never thought it was possible to be strong AND feel feminine.” At that moment I saw the little girl, the one she had not been able to grow past and it all made perfect sense to me. Melissa had many accomplishments in her life thus far that she was proud of but she couldn’t envision herself in a place, a place she had never been and when she did start to get close she would, in one way or another, sabotage herself.

See the saboteur is not your past, the present, your boss, your spouse, your family, your friends, lack of money or anything else...the saboteur is your self. It becomes an internal battle and the only way to fight through it and win, is to face the unknown. That day I said two words to Melissa, I said, consider “what if?”. I asked Melissa to consider what if she could be strong and sexy. What if she could shop wherever she wanted. What if she could wear all the fashion-y clothes she loved so much. What if she could feel comfortable and sexy in a bikini. Most importantly, what if she could love herself and feel beautiful in her own skin. The electricity came back into her eyes and this time, in high voltage. From that point on, Melissa turned herself on and no one will be unplugging her again...not even her self.

So why did Melissa join the 21 day challenge? Melissa explains, “One word: Accountability. When I read the details of the challenge, I felt this was exactly what I needed to take a positive step towards my goals. Before the challenge I felt as though I was just maintaining here and there and not pushing forward. I knew joining the challenge was going to take me to the next level and give me the structure, discipline and commitment I need to thrive. I am also competitive by nature, so joining the challenge turned me up a notch!”

Melissa was excited to start the challenge but with that came challenges too! She said, “The first obstacle was having to send Liza before photos! Once I survived that, which of course we all do,
staying ahead of my meal prep was the biggest challenge for these 21 days. Like they say, if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail! The first few days, everyone is excited and ready to go! It’s when the initial drive wears off that I would usually start to burn out and let my meal prep slowly slip. In the past, I would start off the day with all of my meals prepped then it would start to go down to only a few meals prepped ahead of time, then down to only dinner cooked ahead of time and by the end of the week I didn’t prep and found myself waiting to cook dinner after I got back from the gym, which is no good! The BEST part about this 21 day challenge is having your meals and workouts planned for you and sent directly to your email...but Liza was not going to show up at my house and cook for me or drive me to the gym! I had to do my part. These 21 days have taught me that it’s not about finding the time to prep and cook your meals, its about MAKING the time! If you want something bad enough, everything you do has to be purposeful toward your goals.”

As you work through any challenges there will be times where self-doubt wants to rear its ugly head and Melissa was not immune to this. Melissa states, "Before I started this challenge, I was intimidated to do certain exercises in the gym. I have been working out in gyms for years and years, but I put this limitation on myself when in it comes to doing certain exercises in the gym. I nearly died when Liza first told me she did jumprope in the gym! Who does jumprope in the gym in front of everyone?! To change this gym--phobia I had, I now remind myself constantly that I have every right to be in the gym and to not let anything stop me from having a great workout. If the machine or weights I need are being used by someone else, this doesn't mean I skip the exercise completely, I just simply wait my turn! Just by making these changes to my perspective, I now jumprope all over the gym and will do a burpee pretty much anywhere! I also have to mention that the daily support from the other women in the challenge on our private Facebook group page was monumental in helping me stay accountable and on point. Just one small example is whenever I was craving something off the meal plan (I call these my temporary moments of weakness!) I went on the Facebook page and read through all the posts. The support from the other women in the challenge was priceless. It was clear that we were all in this together!"

The purpose of the 21 day challenge is to lay down a solid foundation of healthy lifestyle habits…even after the 21 days, it never ends; its only the beginning. Melissa states that, "This 21 day challenge has helped me to discover my mental strength that I need to keep moving forward in my journey of becoming healthier both physically and emotionally. The most powerful muscle in the body is our mind. If you put limitations in your mind, your body will never reach its full potential. This challenge really opened my eyes to how much of a role our perspective plays in our daily life. Throughout the 21 days, I constantly reminded myself that I am doing this for me and no one else, simply because I deserve to feel my absolute best from the inside out. Physically I am more in tune with my body. I'm very pleased with how well my body responded after being consistent with my nutrition plan and the daily workouts. Emotionally I feel strong, confident and sexy; especially in my HOT little black dress! This challenge was so rewarding as I proved to myself that consistent hard work results in kick a$$ after photos and most importantly, an even stronger mind, body and spirt!"

Melissa wants us to know that this is only the beginning...

By Liza Hughes RN
Lifestyle Coach to Women

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