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Conversations with the Inspiring Melissa Lee

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melissa Lee.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I started out by working on my own fitness using Kayla Itsines training program and got really positive results from it! Following my transformation, people around me started commenting that they were inspired to workout too and work on their own health. I realized that fitness was fun and really a great way to influence family and friends around me to start too.

Two years later, I became a personal trainer at a commercial gym and started my journey of working 1-1 with clients especially women. Over the next months, I realized that my clients were confiding in me a lot of their other health troubles including poor sleep, chronic stress, irregular periods, painful periods, poor nutrition, constant exhaustion, poor relationships, etc. No matter how much they train with me or enjoyed working out, once they left the gym, they were heading back into this world of ‘poor health’ in all the other areas.

Thankfully, at this time, I was training to be a health coach at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. From there, I realized that my clients were exercising but it was only one pillar of the bigger holistic picture of being in the pink of health. They had trouble sticking to meal plans and my suggestions for healthier food. They viewed eating carbohydrates as bad behavior and associated a lot of guilt with it. So much so that, sometimes after a weekend of eating, their prime motivation to work out was to work off what they ate. It was an unhealthy mindset and many of my clients had the same thoughts when they came in for training.

Looking back now, a lot of them probably had deficiencies in vitamins and minerals due to a lack of vegetable and healthy fats intake, hormonal imbalances attributing to painful periods and symptoms, lack of sleep due to huge pressures from work, etc. I left my job as a personal trainer once I was fully qualified as a health coach and started on my mission to help women with more than just fitness. I wanted to make them be aware and understand that their motivation for weight loss or transformation does not come from emotional eating and body shaming issues, but comes from compassion and one that is long term and will take time.

I now work only with women and am focusing on stubborn weight loss. My area of expertise involves helping women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) achieve stubborn weight loss through balancing hormones, removing toxins from their environment and managing their stress levels. I myself have PCOS and understand the various struggles, myths of the birth control pill and the resulting havoc that it can have on a woman’s body.

I want to pass on my knowledge to these women and empower them to embrace their monthly cycles and understand that their hormones are one of the most important things to focus on to improve their overall health. The number one result they see is stubborn weight loss and feeling comfortable in their clothes again.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has definitely not been smooth! First of all, as a young entrepreneur and someone who wants to start finding clients and building everything from the ground up, I literally felt stuck. I was the sole person of my business and was not only the coach but also in charge of finances, the marketer, content creator, pricing strategist, etc. It was overwhelming because I expected to kick it right off with just seeing clients. Even coaching taught me some vital skills of drawing boundaries, active listening to my clients and learning to give them the opportunity to think of solutions by themselves.

Some big struggles include learning how to use technology to create content and market to my right audience. To understand my own brand and my own voice and how I would like to spread my message took a lot of groundwork and inner exploration of my own personality, weaknesses, and strengths. As a young woman looking to start this journey, whether its coaching or business building, you definitely need to put yourself out there and be prepared for criticisms.

I spent many hours learning from the ground up on how to use email marketing software, how to build mailing lists, how to create an audience, what type of content to create, which social media platforms to use and how to maximize its potential at capturing an audience. I worked with mentors and enrolled myself in a health coaching business course in order for me to understand the entire process better. Through my journey, I started off by not knowing anything about marketing and only knowing how to blog to now doing weekly Facebook Lives, started my own podcast and interviewed various guests. I learned how to not only use visual marketing sources but also experiment with audio and visual ones – something out of my comfort zone.

Advice for young women starting out: You will be afraid and vulnerable but keep honing your skills and push to get your voice and message out there. The more you are afraid of doing something, the more you should try it out. Get a mentor that understands your niche and the marketing/creating around it. Best of all, join a mastermind group and have support from other fellow professionals in your field who are also building their own businesses. The support is unreal and I myself have gained so much just from listening to others journeys and having them cheering me on.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I work with PCOS women predominantly and help them to achieve stubborn weight loss. These women have gone through multiple avenues of trying to achieve this result with no effect. PCOS is a metabolic condition and has many varying factors – of which solutions may or may not help an individual woman. The number one result they get through my coaching is the weight loss that desire and hormonal balance.

I am known for working with females, even during my previous job as a personal trainer. I tend to relate better to the female gender due to my personality of being bubbly, empathetic and emotional. I am most proud of my ability to work with my clients closely and give them the opportunity to open up to me. My clients have the best results as compared to others because they develop awareness early on in order to approach the root cause of their health problem. They respect the recommendations I give them and the chance to fine-tune their health goals to be more aligned with their mindset and where they are at with regards to self-love.

I am also known to be professional in my techniques but versatile in letting my clients explore solutions on their own. This allows them to not be hand-held by me, not caged by rigid steps of a program but freedom to discover a new world of health tools. It is basically an expansion of their current health toolkit.

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
In the health coaching industry, most coaches are females because the techniques and essentials of coaching and the every-day kitchen and home tools are something that more women care about.

In general, I would say that the biggest barriers include motherhood and monthly period symptoms. Women worry when they go on maternity leave because they feel so left out when they go back to work and are basically not in line with everyone else in the office. They have to deal with the experiences of pregnancy, childbirth and the biological wanting of being with her child all the time. For this reason, it seems that there tends to be a bias towards having men as leaders because they are not away for months at a time taking care of their child.

In addition, I have had female clients who had to take time off work and are pressured by leadership workloads when they are having painful periods and PMS symptoms. As women, we thrive on different aspects during our cycle (productivity to creativity to reflection) but this does not have any place in the working environment. We are expected to work as hard as all the men consistently throughout the month and not have our emotions affected. However, hormone dips throughout this time reflect through our feelings and thus, female leaders seem to have to suppress this part of themselves.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Daniel Bruce Lee, Mohsin Shafaruddin, Jasmine Lee, Marilyn Loo

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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