Melanie Plante had been a gymnast since the age of 3. This meant spending long hours in the gym every day and eating plenty to fuel up for her training. Eat, train, rest, repeat—an athlete's life nearly from the get-go.
Although she knew what hard work and discipline were, an unfortunate shoulder injury ended Plante's career during her sophomore year of college, and a struggle with weight began soon after. The decrease in activity, paired with bad eating habits, created both a health predicament and a bit of an identity crisis.
"My whole life, I'd identified as a gymnast," Plante said. "People knew me as this fit, confident girl who was always happy. When I stopped gymnastics and started gaining weight, I felt lost."
After many cycles of losing and gaining weight, Plante knew that inconsistency and lack of a specific goal were her biggest obstacles to maintaining results. So, she set a goal, signed up with a coach, and flipped the switch on her willpower.
Eight months later, in April of 2018, she competed in the Figure class at her first bodybuilding show. She was also a Transform for Life winner in Bodybuilding.com's annual 250K Transformation Challenge, netting her $10,000.
This is her story.
Snapshot: Melanie Plante
- Height: 5' 1"
- Weight: 119 lbs.
- Location: Boston, Massachusetts
- Jay Cutler Classic: Figure Class—4th in Novice, 3rd in Open
Why did you decided to transform?
Growing up, I was always very fit. When I stopped doing gymnastics, I felt disappointed and ashamed of how far I had let myself go.
Over the years, I tried many times to get back into shape. I worked with a trainer and followed different diet programs, but nothing seemed to stick. I would lose some weight and feel better for a while, but then I would go back to old habits and regain all the weight.
The real turning point came in August of last year when I committed to competing in my first bodybuilding competition. It was something I had wanted to do for years, but I had always made excuses as to why I wasn't ready. Thanks to a push from my boyfriend, I signed up with a coach, Steve Poynter, and I saw a glimmer of hope that I could finally transform my body.
How did you accomplish your goals?
Once I got started, I was committed to doing whatever it took to succeed. I had an internal voice telling me I was capable of that. I put in 100 percent every day, and that often meant making sacrifices.
I got up at 3 a.m. to train before work, and I was in bed by 7 p.m. most nights. I spent 3-4 hours every weekend grocery shopping and prepping my meals for the week. I also brought all my own food to family events and vacations, so that I could stay on my plan. It took a lot of discipline and it wasn't easy, but it was so worth it.
My coach was also a big part of my success. He had the knowledge and expertise that I needed, and I checked in with him every two weeks. It was helpful to have someone holding me accountable.
What supplements did you take to help you along the way?
- Optimum Nutrition Essential AMIN.O. Energy
- Nature's Best Zero Carb Isopure
- MusclePharm Carnitine
- Cellucor C4 Original
- Fish oil
- Women's multivitamin
- Digestive enzymes
What diet plan guided your transformation?
My coach put together my meal plans for me, and the plan was adjusted every two weeks, based on how my body was changing. Generally, the plan consisted of six meals per day, with a meal every 2.5-3 hours. For the first six months, I had one free meal per week, where I could eat whatever I wanted. For the last two months, we substituted higher carb days instead of the free meals. I also drank 1-2 gallons of water per day.
Here's what a day looked like:
What did your training regimen look like?
During a typical week of training, I had one rest day. During each of the six days per week that I trained, I did 30-40 minutes of cardio upon waking, lifted every day, and did 20-30 minutes of post-workout HIIT cardio or plyometrics. I also did ab circuits four days per week.
More specifically, I would wake up at 3 a.m., take my supplements, do semi-fasted cardio on the spin bike, eat breakfast and take any additional supplements, head to the gym, lift, do my post-workout cardio, then do abs. I would get home around 6:30 a.m., eat again, and then start getting ready for work.
What aspect challenged you the most?
The most challenging aspect for me was the diet. I was used to eating junk food whenever I wanted, and I struggled with binge eating. For years, I'd felt like I couldn't stop myself from giving in to the bad foods. Whenever I had a craving, I would imagine myself standing onstage, and that helped me stay on track.
Once I started seeing changes in my body, it was like a domino effect that propelled me forward. Now, I understand that I have a choice. I am choosing to say no to junk food because it doesn't bring me closer to my goal.
What were your biggest takeaways from this process, aside from changing your body?
I have gained so much confidence, and it is so empowering to have been able to make this happen for myself. I now feel like I can go after anything I want in my life.
Also, many friends, family, and even strangers have reached out to me and told me that I gave them the hope and motivation to change. That has been one of the best parts of this whole process—knowing that in changing my life, I've helped others change their lives, too. I will never get tired of hearing it, and it is so rewarding to know that I am having a positive impact on others.
What are your future fitness plans?
I would like to do another competition in the future. Now that I know what to expect, it would be fun to do again and see what improvements I can make. I would also like to try out the fitness division, where I would be able to utilize my gymnastics background for the routine.
But what is most important to me going forward is that I can share my story with others. I want people to see that a transformation is possible, and I want to inspire them to make the change for themselves. My goal is to spread what I've learned to as many people as possible, and to help them realize their higher potential.
Do you have any suggestions for aspiring transformers?
You have to start believing in yourself. You have to believe that you are capable of more, even if you don't know what more is. Just start consistently putting in the work.
There isn't one secret diet or training program—it is the hard work that you put in every day. You will hit plateaus and roadblocks. You will have failures and setbacks, but you can never give up. You might go weeks where you don't see any change, but if you stick with it, you will eventually break through.
The truth is, not every day is going to be great. There were many days when I was tired or didn't feel like working out, and I had bad cravings. But I dug deep during these difficult days, put my head down and just did the work. Never stop trying, no matter how long it takes.
How has Bodybuilding.com helped you reach your goals?
I started using Bodybuilding.com in 2015 when I entered my first 250K Challenge. Since then, I've learned so much from the articles and have ordered supplements from the site for years. I've also used Jamie Eason's LiveFit 12-Week Trainer and done multiple rounds of Jim Stoppani's Shortcut to Shred program, which I am currently using again.
Whenever someone asks me for recommendations on where to start their journey, I send them to Bodybuilding.com. There is no better place for all the information you need to change your life.