If you know a thing or two about the bodybuilding scene, you’ve definitely heard of Melissa Bumstead. She’s competed in the International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness on the highest stages for quite a few years now. Just a quick scroll through Melissa’s Instagram will highlight how authentic this woman is; she’s got a fire inside of her that could motivate anyone to reach their own goals. We found out how it all started for this Figure Pro, how she’s established her work ethic in this sport, and her advice for achieving success with your New Year’s resolutions.
How did you get started with bodybuilding?
I actually knew nothing about bodybuilding when I first started dating my now husband Iain Valliere. When getting to know Iain, he told me about his past in bodybuilding and you could just tell how much he loved it when he spoke about it. Later that year, we watched the Olympia together, and that is where I completely fell in love with the look and elegance of the figure division. Iain helped me prepare for my first show the next year, and from there I was totally hooked.
What do you love most about this sport? Why do you do it?
Bodybuilding has shown me the kind of control I have over my destiny. It is something that you get exactly out of it what you choose to put in it. It’s a very powerful concept to realize. It has taught me self discipline, the value of sacrifice, and how to work towards long term goals. I love the satisfaction of seeing all of my hard work displayed on stage. Plus you get to dress up in a diamond bikini and wear high heels – isn’t that every girl’s dream?
You recently competed on the Mr. Olympia stage in September 2018, and achieved a very successful placing – what is it like preparing physically and mentally for a competition at this level?
Honestly prepping for the O is easier than other shows. It is the ultimate goal to reach the Olympia stage so when preparing for it you are so driven and so motivated. Not to mention I personally felt so blessed and thankful to get to compete at the Olympia, so it was almost a respect thing to give it my all.
What is the hardest thing about competition prep?
For me, it’s 100% the diet. Anyone who knows me knows I love food and am a sucker for sweets.
How do you stay motivated, even on days when you are exhausted?
In all honesty I don’t. There are countless days when I am not motivated. But you wake up and follow the plan anyways. You go do your cardio, go hit the weights. You don’t question it or make excuses. Not everyday in the gym feels good but you go anyway.
How much time do you spend in the gym per day?
It really depends. At the beginning of a prep I’m definitely in there doing more cardio. Once I’m in show shape, less time is spent on cardio. Everyday a weight training session for me lasts about an hour. Cardio can be anywhere from 20-90 minutes a day.
Who are your role models?
I don’t really have role models. I have a vast amount of respect for people who know who they are and are always true to that. Anyone who is strong enough to show vulnerability and admit when they are wrong or not perfect really drives me to do the same. I also love people who can accept and appreciate all different kinds of people – even if those people have different beliefs, goals, values than themselves. My husband drives me to train hard everyday because he is easily the hardest working person in the gym I have ever seen. My family drives me to stay authentic and humble.
You have an incredibly close friendship with your brother Chris – how has this contributed to your success in this sport?
My relationship with my brother has made me a better person in so many ways that are bigger than bodybuilding. I think the fact that he and I have the same passion right now is just really the cherry on top.
How has social media played a role in your job and lifestyle? Do you feel like you owe it to your followers to show them your private life too?
I don’t feel like I owe anyone anything really. I choose to share my life with my people because I enjoy it. It is amazing to share your goals with people, and when you reach them, share that excitement. It is also a beautiful thing to share struggles and failures, and feel the support from the thousands of people that are following your journey with you. The connections I am able to make and the people I am able to reach create a beautiful way for us all to feel a little less alone sometimes.
Do you have any advice for setting fitness goals for the New Year? What are some tips for then following through and reaching these goals?
If you can’t hold yourself accountable, find someone who can. Whether this be a friend, family member, partner, or coach. And know you are in charge of your success. The small choices you make every single day will determine where you will be in a month, 2 months, etc..
How important is nutrition when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle?
The most important. Period.
What does 2019 look like for both of you in terms of training and competitions?
I actually just got accepted to compete in the Arnold Classic in Ohio in March which is super exciting. It is an extremely prestigious stage so I can’t wait to experience it. I like to plan one show at a time, so I’ll let you know after that one!