When Improving Your Health Changes Your Life: A Canadian Champ Shares Her Story
Looking at her chiseled body it’s hard to believe that Melina Perron was once obese. Seven years ago she was a freelance photographer running a home-based business while raising two kids. She enjoyed cooking big meals for her family and spent most of her evenings working on the computer. At the time her 5-foot-2 frame was carrying almost 250 pounds of body weight. Today she holds the title of Canadian Women’s Lightweight Bodybuilding Champion.
When she’s not busy training for competition she’s helping others achieve their own personal health and fitness goals. “I am the new health care system. I’m cheaper,” she jokes. We may not all become bodybuilding champions, but Melina believes each of us can practice preventative health care. “When someone says to me I don’t have time to work out, my reply is if you’re too ill to do anything then how are you going to work or do the things you enjoy?” A winter outing with her kids really drove this point home for her. “I recall taking my kids tobogganing and being unable to climb the hill more than a few times. I told the kids that I was too tired to go anymore and I promised to make them hot chocolate if we went home. My son Ethan who was 4 years old at the time said to me, ‘Mom you are always tired. Maybe you are just fat.’ We went home, but later that night I kept thinking about what he had said.”
Having tried weight loss programs in the past without much success Melina was skeptical about trying yet another one. A visit to a local weight loss clinic changed her mind. “This program appealed to me because it used real food, provided recipes and meal plans, and required personal coaching and journaling.” Motivation can be a major factor for people struggling with weight loss. Melina found the first week challenging. “The personal coaching made all the difference,” she says. As she began losing weight she started to feel better and continued educating herself on ways to adopt a healthier lifestyle. She got rid of her deep fryer, cleaned out the pantry, and started walking in the evenings. Within a year Melina dropped 100 pounds.
Some of the strategies she learned through the weight loss program are now part of her lifestyle including balancing her intake of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, structured eating with portion control, and personal journaling. On a typcial day she eats six meals and drinks up to four litres of water. Everything that goes into her body is recorded in a personal journal. She has developed the self-discipline and dedication required to be a champ, but is quick to point out how we can all benefit from a better diet. “I spend more on healthy foods, but I don’t pay anything for medications,” she says.
In 2009 she decided to take a break from her photography business. A newspaper ad for a sales and customer relations position at a new fitness club caught her eye. It was here that she would first learn about bodybuilding. One of the members made a comment that piqued her curiosity, “He told me that I had the body type to be a builder,” she says. “I started watching him workout, then we started training together and he made me a diet.” She continued to challenge herself through weightlifting and cardio workouts aimed at increasing muscle mass to make her leaner and stronger. Bodybuilding not only fueled her fiery passion for nutrition and fitness, it also transformed her entire body.
Melina knew if she really wanted to become a competitive bodybuilder the loose skin from her big weight loss would need to be removed. Over the next couple of years she saved up money and in May 2012 made arrangements through a local company to leave Saskatchewan and access the surgery at a private hospital in Mexico. She quickly recovered from surgery and with the encouragement of a friend decided to enter her first provincial bodybuilding competition. Training was going well until later in the year when she injured her knee and required surgery. The competition was less than six months away. She asked to be put on the surgical cancellation waitlist. “They called me up and it was short notice but I got in for surgery due to a cancellation,” Melina says. Many doubted whether she would be ready to compete as she was still using a knee brace in the weeks leading up to the event.
In April 2013 she captured first place in Women’s Bodybuilding at the IFBB Saskatchewan Mutant Provincial Championships held in Saskatoon. “I was so nervous I dropped my trophy,” she says with a laugh. Always one to push the bar higher, Melina became a national champion in September 2014 by winning the Canadian Women’s Lightweight Bodybuilding title at the CBBF Bodybuilding Championships in Laval, Quebec. She is now busy training for the 2015 Canadian National Bodybuilding Championships to be held in Edmonton, Alberta.
Melina enjoys educating and inspiring others to adopt a healthy lifestyle whether it’s by helping them improve their diet, transform their body, or discover their inner champion. As a personal trainer she works one-on-one with clients to build a personalized nutrition and exercise program because she knows firsthand that taking responsibility for your health can change your life.