A fit and toned female bodybuilder from Singapore has a quarter of a million Instagram followers. They know her for her rock-hard abs, huge thigh muscles, and sculpted back and arms, but to her high-school classmates she was the former chubby girl.
Melissa Sarah Wee is now 31 years old. She currently lives in Los Angeles, California. She had suffered terrible self-esteem issues. She was teased mercilessly for having a heavier physique. But they won’t say that to her face now because she can easily take them down. That’s because now Melissa has only 9 percent body fat after she underwent a body transformation. She is a bodybuilder and fitness competitor.
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As a teenager, Melissa was overweight, which made her stand out in her all-girl school in Singapore. She told BodyBuilding.com, “My insecurities and sense of worthlessness took root as a teenager. There was a significant amount of stress on my shoulders and my environment was very competitive.”
It wasn’t just her classmates who destroyed her confidence. Even the teachers handling the school’s Trim and Fit club mocked her and made her feel very low about herself.
Melissa explains, “Being overweight in an Asian society where everyone is petite and slim made me feel discriminated against. It was a sin to be overweight in my school. They often ridiculed the students and put them down in front of everyone. It was emotionally torturing and my self-esteem crumbled.”
The continued pressure she felt around her led her to become bulimic. She lost 40 pounds, but her self-esteem and sense of self-worth plummeted. She hit the dangerously low weight of 98 pounds and ended up in the hospital.
As she found her way back to healthy living, Melissa also found her calling. She gained weight and started working out. She wanted to not only be healthy—but also strong.
She talked about her journey, saying, “Like all beginners, I experienced all kinds of muscle aches and hated it. I took it one day at a time and made sure I worked out. There were times I wanted to give up. [But] as time went by, I started to see results from working out regularly. That drove me to work out even harder. The pounds started dropping and my clothes were hanging from my body. I could breathe easily and felt more confident.”
Exercising became a habit. It wasn’t a chore that she didn’t want to do. She saw her body change as she lost fat and gained muscle. She focused on her diet because it went hand in hand with a healthy lifestyle.
When she was just starting out, Melissa would keep a daily log of her meals so she knew exactly what she consumed. Eventually, she learned how to manage her diet, which included plenty of supplements that she took before her workout, after her workout, and before she went to bed.
Now a typical day for Melissa consists of five small meals a day. Each meal depends on what her training schedule for the day is. For her breakfast, which is eaten before her workout, she has an espresso and whey protein shake. Her second meal will be egg whites and pistachios or fat-free cheese. The next meal will consist of chicken with salad or fruit. Later in the day, she has udon and chicken or salmon with fat-free cream cheese. Before she sleeps, she has another protein shake.
It was back in 2010 that she entered her first bodybuilding competition, and since then, she has continued competing. She warns her followers that it is not for everyone. It’s hard work to join these competitions and joining can cost up to $10,000 a time when you factor in travel expenses, the competition fee, and other things you need for the competition.
She told her followers on Instagram, “A lot of sacrifices have to be made. Competing is serious business. It is not a joke or something you do for fun. There’s nothing fun about dieting and depleting your body . . . not to mention the amount of money you need to invest.”
She now loves to show off her body transformation with pictures from competitions. She also posts “swolfies,” which are selfies that highlight her bulging muscles. She shows off her workouts and has inspirational words about body confidence to her fans.
Melissa says that when you embrace your body, it is liberating. When you accept your body, you will no longer be chained to the number on the scale. Melissa now works as a personal trainer, and she says that each person is different and has their own goals.