Fitness Fridays: Fitmelle On Her Transformation And Why We Should Focus On Fat Loss — Not Weight Loss

December 22, 2017  |  

Courtesy of Fitmelle

Love can really change people. In fact, it was the catalyst that motivated Michelle G. to make a change to her health and her lifestyle.

But before her fitness journey began, Michelle, better known as Fitmelle to her many followers, wasn’t anywhere near active. She played sports here and there, but not seriously. She didn’t really fit in. And her weight was something that she was self-conscious about for quite some time. It wasn’t until Michelle found love as an adult that she also finally found the motivation to be her best self. And no, it wasn’t for the guy she was seeing. He loved her either way. But rather, it was because she wanted to be a healthy and happy half of a whole when it came to their partnership.

Two years after deciding to transform herself mentally and physically, the 28-year-old Durham, North Carolina native and trainer now has control over her body in a way that she hadn’t before. She’s done her research and slimmed down. She’s changed her diet and bulked up. Fitmelle has done it all. She’s morphed her original idea of “the perfect body” into, instead, a body that is capable of some amazing things. Now that she has the tools and the knowledge, she wants to help other women transform themselves for the better, as opposed to just motivating them with a few pictures or videos.

“I want to help inspire you, but I don’t want to motivate you,” she said. “You have to motivate you.”

We talked to Michelle about the inspiration behind her transformation, why good health isn’t attached to a number on the scale, and the best way women looking to make their own transformations can go about staying on track and not make the same ol’ resolutions, but rather, lifestyle changes.

 

MadameNoire: Tell me about your fitness journey. Would you say you enjoyed being active growing up? 

Fitmelle: No, not at all. I mean, I did sports growing up, but I’ve always been the heavier set one in the group. I never really fit in. I don’t know how much you know about North Carolina or this area, but I grew up very sheltered. My dad’s from Nigeria. I’m the only girl. I’m the “Ada” [first daughter], so you know the type of scrutiny that comes with that. I think my parents didn’t really understand how to explain what I needed to eat. My parents had a background of being fit, but they just never really understood what worked for me, or why I was putting on weight the way I was or what was going on. So I kind of had to figure things out on my own. I never really had real structure with that. I played some sports to try and stay in shape: basketball, volleyball. But I never really understood my body. I didn’t understand my body type or a real structure of how to eat. I was just winging it like most people do.

So when did you start this fitness journey you’re on? 

I started March 28 of 2015. I actually documented my entire journey on Instagram. The first year I put up weekly progress photos and then as I kept creating new goals for myself, I just kept documenting them. My situation is a little unique because I actually have a complete paper trail of how I did it.

So what inspired you to start?

I got into a relationship with a man whom I’m still with now. You know when you first get into a relationship and you’re in the honeymoon phase and you get to a point where you’re completely in love with each other so you start packing on some weight because you’re super comfortable? He never really made any mention of it, I just think that finding someone who I really believe is my soulmate, being around somebody that you are really in love with, it makes you think about all of the things you want to work on within yourself. Without ever asking of it of me, I just kept saying, I really want to work on XYZ. And then I just started looking in the mirror and getting to a point where I felt, on a personal level with no regards to him, that enough was enough. I’d been struggling with my weight for my entire life, just the ups and downs and not really knowing what was going on. I just hit a wall where I was disgusted with myself. I found someone who loved me no matter how I looked, which is awesome and very rare to find. However, I didn’t love myself so I felt like, there’s only but so much I can give someone if I don’t love who I am when I look in the mirror. It’s about you first and foremost and loving the vessel that you’re in. So, he kind of educated me and said that the reason why I never had success before was because of the way I was training. There aren’t a lot of resources that really explain the importance of strength training and building muscle. Everyone does these crash diets so that’s all you really know. You just know to only do cardio. So he explained that the only way I was going to get where I wanted to get was to lift weights. I was petrified at first. But he showed me how to lift the weights one time and I ended up taking it from there. He created a monster, and I literally fell in love with it.

We’ve talked about the body of one’s dreams. You’ve slimmed down and you’ve bulked up and gone back and forth. With that being said, do you still have a certain look you want to achieve or is it more about having a certain feeling when you see what your body is capable of and the way that it changes? 

It’s the ladder. The reason I go up and down in weight is because that’s how you restructure and reshape your body. I follow bodybuilding-style methods to obtain what I’m looking to do. So if I’m looking to cut body fat, there’s a process called shredding. That’s when I’m trying to cut the body fat and see what my muscular structure is really like and be a little smaller. After that’s done, I typically go into a process called bulking. That’s when I’m trying to grow my muscles because you can’t cut body fat and build muscle aggressively at the same time. They have to be done in different diet structures, different training methods. So when I learned all of that, I realized there was a lot of work that had to be done to try and maintain the body you want. So between learning my genetics and learning what my genetic limitations are and strength, I’m just on the journey of reshaping my body and it’s awesome. I’m really enjoying it. It’s hard work, but the biggest message I want to teach woman, which is why I’m not afraid to let them know I’ve been 150 pounds before, I’ve been 200 pounds many times, is that it’s not about how much you weigh. Society pressures us, especially on social media. It’s everywhere you look. It’s so much validity people put into how much you weigh and how big your butt is and how small your waist is, and it’s distorting our realities and what we feel like is socially acceptable and what we feel we need to be at to be happy. And I feel like breaking a lot of those norms by telling people you aren’t your weight.

I like that concept because BMIs and this concept of a particular number signifying that you’re healthy is all you hear. But I like that you reiterate that such things aren’t in fact attached to a number.

It isn’t. Because when you have more lean muscle mass, you really can’t attach it to a number. I’ve literally seen people who weigh 190 pounds solid and look incredible. And I’ve seen people who weigh 190 pounds who don’t because they have less muscle and more body fat. That’s the reason why I don’t like BMI. If I were to go to a doctor right now, and I weigh 190 pounds right now, they would tell me I’m not in shape because of my BMI. But I have tons of lean muscle mass. I have body fat as well, but guess what? Not everybody wants to get rid of every single ounce of their body fat [laughs]. I have times where I want to be a little leaner, but like you said, there’s more to it. Whatever amount you weigh, what you need to be focused on is how much of that weight is muscle and how much of that weight is fat. That’s all we should be caring about. We shouldn’t care about weight loss. We should care about fat loss. That’s it.

So what’s the difference between how you eat when you want to bulk up versus how you eat when you want to shred and lose weight?

The diets are very different and it’s very important that people understand that. For my bulk, I’m in a caloric surplus so that means I’m eating an abundance more of calories above the amount of calories I should eat to maintain my weight. You’re eating above your maintenance weight. I’m eating, typically, high amounts of protein, less fats as in low fats and moderate to high carbs because that’s what you need to put on lean muscle mass. And the training is completely different for that.

To lower high body fat, it would be the opposite. You’re eating in a caloric deficit, so you find out whatever your maintenance weight is and you’re eating lower than that amount. Everything is opposite. I’m still eating high proteins because I need to maintain my muscles mass. Eating high protein is important for both diets, but I am eating less carbs. However, I’m not going low carbs because there’s a difference. And I’m eating low fats. When you’re cutting body fat, there are so many things you can do. I’m a big advocate of tracking macronutrients [grams of proteins, your carbs and fats], and that’s the diet that I follow. But when I say caloric deficit, that still means eating nutritionally-dense meals. So for bulk, caloric surplus — high proteins and high amounts of carbs, low fats. But for fat loss, caloric deficit — high proteins, moderate to low carbs, low fats. It gives you a really good balance.

We’re at that time where people start making resolutions for the new year, including health and wellness ones. What advice would you give to women who are prepping for a change or have struggled on a fitness journey and have considered giving up — or going the quick fix route? 

The biggest advice I would give people is, you made this resolution for a reason. You made the resolution because you want to change the way you look. So first we need to work on changing our mindset. We need to work on changing what’s driving why we want to do this versus just saying we want to do this. There’s actions that need to take place first mentally. With a real and true mental action saying I want to look different than I’ve ever looked, that must mean that I must do things that I’ve never done. If you continue to do the same things you’ve always done, you’ll continue to keep looking the way you’ve always looked. So we’ve got to make that type of mental connection as well.

Then, you have to pick a program and follow through. It’s not that these crash diets and all these other plans don’t necessarily work. They work, but the problem is it’s not the best thing for that person’s body. But I’m an advocate that however you choose to work out, stick to it and stay consistent with that. If you take to it and stay consistent with what you’re doing, it’s no longer a resolution, it’s a lifestyle. And I think that we need to go into 2018 setting more lifestyle changes because it will never have to be another resolution. The point of a resolution is to find a goal you want to set and meet that goal. Or come close to that goal. That’s not happening. People are starting goals and they’re not finishing them. They need to get to the root of why they want this and find their real reason. It’s not because the doctor told them so, or their kids, or all these reasons. Those are great reasons, but the problem is, it’s still not for them. Those are the people who quit the soonest, those who say it’s because of something or someone else. While those are all important reasons, you have to want it for you. If you don’t want it for you, even with having kids, people stop. Even after having health scares, people continue to not eat healthy. So it’s obvious that that’s not enough.  People really need to find the root of why they want this. Hold yourself accountable for that. And I think that’s the message. You have to want it, you have to earn it, you have to see value in yourself, and you have to do something different than you’ve ever done. If quitting is something you’ve always done, try not quitting.

Be sure to follow Fitmelle on Instagram and also check out the rest of our Fitness Fridays profiles

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