Name: Melissa Harding
Height: 5'6" (165 cm)
Weight: 121 lbs (55 kg)
Years Bodybuilding: 4
How did your fitness
I lifted and enjoyed the gym for years, but 2013 was the first time I pursued my dream to become a fitness competitor. I learned about training, nutrition, and the importance of developing a mind-muscle connection so I could target the working muscle.
From age 16, I've trained in the gym 5-6 days per week consisting of cardio, fitness classes, and high-volume weight training. I discovered Bodybuilding.com four years ago and started to read up on advanced training methods to lift heavy, get stronger, and build muscle.
My results skyrocketed when I entered Physique of the Week Live, my first fitness competition, at the massive Body Power event with more than 60,000 visitors from England. I only had 10 weeks to prepare and had friend from college help me structure my training and nutrition plan.
On the first day of contest prep, I was run over on the walk to work and couldn't train for three weeks, so 10 weeks of prep suddenly became 7 weeks. Rather than give up and pull out of the competition, I became more determined. I was astounded at the incredible results I achieved in short time from consistent training and nutrition. I stepped on stage in the best shape of my life and was honored to win the best fitness personality award and place second overall out of 500 competitors.
My competition success gave me a taste of overwhelming accomplishment and made me crave the next big challenge. It was my dream to compete with the UKBFF (UK Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation) bikini division but was told I couldn't because I had a fitness model body. I didn't let that stop me and went for it anyway. I switched my training method and transformed my body into a curved, bikini physique and placed third in my first bikini competition, which supplanted my place in the British National finals.
Throughout the past year, I prepped for five competitions and learned about discipline, mental strength, and consistency. Contest prep requires planning, organization, and time management to train, prep meals, and work full-time. I plan to keep working hard to improve and accomplish more down the road.
How did your passion for fitness emerge?
My passion for fitness arose from a place of low self-confidence and determination to challenge myself to get on stage and face my shyness head on. It meant a lot to win best fitness personality at my first contest. Competing brought out the best in me. Now I feel confident and happy with my abilities.
Competing ignited a passion to demand more of myself and to strive for constant self-improvement. Bodybuilding provides an arena to constantly challenge myself physically and mentally. I get pumped up thinking about how far I came this year and how much more I still have to achieve.
What motivates you to live a healthy lifestyle?
I'm motivated to live healthy overall. My cravings went away after consistent dieting. It's about more than looking good. It's important to remember that healthy living is great for general health. In the process of competing, I also learned about nutrition and improving my general health to get the best out of training. This knowledge allows me to be healthy for the rest of my life.
Where did you go for inspiration?
Bodybuilding.com is where I go to get psyched up before every workout. I love watching the videos before the gym to motivate me. I enjoy learning philosophies from other athletes and competitors.
What are your future fitness plans?
I plan to win a UKBFF show and qualify for the British finals again to compete internationally. My dream is to become a fitness model and grace the cover of a major fitness magazine. I know what's possible when I set my mind to improve my body. I'll keep working until I achieve my goal. The sky really is the limit. Anything is possible if you want it badly enough.
What is the most important fitness tip?
- When you feel like giving up, stop and visualize yourself achieving the goal.
- Achieving your dream body comes down to consistent nutrition and training.
- Dramatic lifestyle changes cannot happen overnight, so start small.
- Think about what you want to achieve specifically.
Who is your favorite fitness competitor?
Amanda Latona is herself on stage and has fun with it. Amanda embodies a journey of self-improvement and confidence.
How did Bodybuilding.com help you reach your goals?
Bodybuilding.com is packed with educational content. It's my favorite destination for videos and articles on nutrition and training. The exercise guides and video features are very useful to help me change my program according to my goals.
Melissa's Top 5 Gym Tracks
- "Take You Down" by Bassnectar
- "Hate Me Know" by Nas (Feat. P Diddy)
- "Paris" by Kanye West
- "Public Domain" by Operation Blade
- "No Church In The Wild" by Jay-Z (Feat. Kanye West)
- 2013 Body Power - Best Fitness Personality, 2nd Place Physique
- 2013 UKBFF British Nationals - Finalist
- 2013 UKBFF East Of England Championships - 3rd Place
- 2013 UKBFF Stars Of Tomorrow/London Classic Championships - 4th Place