Healthy Shout Out! Melanie Plenda

Categories: Champion Moment

We can’t get enough of Melanie. We love her writing. We love her perspective. We love her!
By Hannah Brilling,  Keene State Nutrition Practicum Intern

Melanie had always felt that other people had an easier time “being healthy” than she did. Whether it was because they played sports as a child or were better at staying on a diet, she felt that some crucial training was missed, and that she was behind. Dieting seemed like a struggle, and her ideas for exercise were limited to options that were boring and uninteresting. It was not that Melanie had not tried to be active throughout most of her life, it was that the habits had never stuck.

There came a point at which excuses were no longer enough to keep Melanie from feeling like she, too, could be a healthy person, not just a person constantly on a diet and a fitness mission. If she had to pick a tipping point, Melanie says that the decision to have children pushed her to change. The importance of being healthy both in order to have a family, and then to be a role model, spurred her to take action.

Melanie started taking fitness classes at the Y. At the end of a particularly difficult class, Jeremy (the instructor) very earnestly thanked Melanie for coming that day. Not only was Melanie surprised to find that she had not struggled nearly as much as she anticipated, but the instructor’s gesture also helped her to feel welcome and to return again the next week. After a few more, she realized she was enjoying herself and growing stronger!

A boost of confidence, though crucial in helping Melanie transition to a healthier lifestyle, could not singularly sustain a strong routine or cement new habits into place. Melanie still worked hard to prioritize time for exercise. She had already decided to make a change when she was asked to write a piece for The Keene Sentinel’s ELF about the Healthy U, 12 week challenge through HM2020. She used the opportunity to dig in and really commit to fitness, with the greater Monadnock region reading on, week by week.

After sharing with readers her physical activity goal, along with successes and failures along the way, she writes this in her final weekly remarks:

“My path doesn’t look like anyone else’s, the important thing is that I am on one. One that hopefully leads to better health, more energy and maybe some skinny jeans in the end.”

Melanie says that one of the ways in which writing about her experience helped her was to hear the response… some even had her in tears. From the gratitude expressed by readers, Melanie was able to realize that her story was inspirational not in spite of its imperfections, but because of them.

Even though she had heard the ways in which her story was inspiring to others, Melanie was still surprised to receive Healthy Monadnock’s Individual Champions award this year. Melanie says that this recognition was both surprising and very much appreciated: She is thankful that someone who is still on their journey to a life of wellness can be recognized for their efforts and wins, even if they have not yet reached their final goals. Healthy Monadnock is happy to applaud Melanie along her way!

Melanie still struggles to schedule physical activity into her life- juggling a freelance career and a family will always throw curve balls. However, she feels that she is coming closer to building healthy habits into her life in a way that feels good, instead of forced. One way she keeps herself going back to the gym? Letting go of expectations. Believing she has to run, instead of walk, might keep her away. Instead, she gives herself the opportunity to do what she can, because walking is better than nothing, and it allows her to keep chipping away at her goals.