We talked with Melissa Sarah Wee in January, 2020.
👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
Hi! My name is Melissa Sarah Wee and I go by Sarah. I’m 36 this year. I was born in Singapore and grew up here. I was a personal trainer for 14 years, an elementary school teacher for 5 and I recently went full time into the food business (check us out on Instagram at @theplatteringco).
I have been training since I was 18 years old. Growing up, I suffered from bulimia and was hospitalized from the side effects of this eating disorder. I started training during my recovery period, and as they say, the rest is history.
I didn’t always love the training sessions. When I first started, I had to drag myself to the gym. I was always so self-conscious because I had already put on all the weight (and more) that I lost when I was bulimic. I took the training sessions one day at a time.
Soon enough, I fell in love with the process and how much it has taught me about myself. I learned that I had to be patient, resilient, dedicated, determined and disciplined. No one could do this for me, but me.
Training, eating for my goals and leading an active lifestyle became a part of my life. It isn’t something that I do for a season, but rather a lifestyle.
When I first started training, I have always wanted to compete but felt that I was not ready yet. I also did not dare to pursue it then. It was my dream to compete in one NPC Women’s Physique competition but my then-boyfriend did not support the idea. I went through a very bad breakup with him in 2014 after an 11-year relationship.
That year, I decided that I was no longer going to allow anyone to dictate my life. I had to live for myself. So I flew to California by myself and did my first NPC show. That was 12 years after I started training for the first time. I came in 2nd for my first contest and I was so happy.
In the next few years, I spent my summers in California and competed. I won an NPC National Qualifier in 2015 but I was unable to do the USA Nationals as I was not an American citizen. It was ok though. I was happy with what I had achieved as I didn’t train to be a competitor. I trained simply because I love it.
I was sponsored by Optimum Nutrition during the years that I competed. It was great as they paid for my air tickets from Singapore to the US, covered my lodging and the competition fees. It helped me a great deal financially.
The story of how I landed the sponsorship was pretty funny. I used to train for marathons in my late 20s and met one of the big bosses from ON during my morning runs. The ON marketing director approached me after and that was when they started sponsoring me.
I love being in the gym as much as I love being outdoors. I have traveled all over the world to hike as hiking is one of my favorite activities. I also love diving and snorkeling. My dream is to dive with the great whites!
Fitness and bodybuilding will always be a part of my life. I have grown so much as a person, not just physically stronger, but mentally as well.
⏱ Describe a typical day of training
My training style changes with my goals and the season that I am in. During the years when I was competing, I train 5 to 6 days a week, at least 2 hours each time. Since 2018, I have been training 3 to 4 times a week.
I always sit down and plan my training routine according to what I want to achieve. I don’t follow a specific routine as I strongly believe that everyone is different and needs to have their own routine that is designed to reach their goals.
I have always trained alone and I really enjoy that aspect. Gym time is my personal time. I get in, do what I need to do and leave.
At the moment, my routine goes something like this: Monday-leg day, Tues-Shoulders, Wed–Back and Friday–legs again. I don’t do cardio, but I really should. 🙂
👊 How do you keep going and push harder?
When people ask me how do I keep doing what I do year after year, I don’t really know how to reply. That is my utmost honest answer. I do believe that once it becomes a lifestyle, it becomes second nature. You just want to keep up with it.
With that said, on days that the lazy or tired bug catches up, I just tell myself to take things to step by step. I show up at the gym. I pick up the weights.. and eventually, everything else will flow naturally.
I understand that this can be challenging especially when I dedicate 10 to 14 hours of my time to work every day. We are all given the same amount of time, so if I need to wake up early to get my training session in, I will do just that.
🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
At the moment, training is just part of my lifestyle. I do not have any plans to compete so I train mainly for aesthetic reasons. Well, I also like to be strong AF. 🙂
Recently I have been toying with the idea of competing again. BUT it would not be so soon. Maybe when I hit 40? Haha.
For now, I just want to keep improving my overall physique, without having to worry or stress about time. After all, training is meant to be enjoyed, not stressed over.
🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
I am someone who is very cautious about technique when I train. To date, I have never hurt myself while I train. I choose technique over ego every time. It is ok to carry a lighter weight if a heavy one is going to compromise my form.
I travel a lot and I use some of my travels as recovery time to let my body really rest. If I go away for a week or two, I am not concerned about missing out on my training as I always keep active.
When I travel for longer periods like 4 to 12 weeks, I will look for gyms in the countries that I visit. I always plan ahead and have a list of gyms that I can utilize when I travel.
I believe that the best way to recover and to optimize growth is rest. I stopped taking supplements in 2018 when I decided to take a break from competing. I have been depending on food to supplement my needs in the past 2 years and it is working out great for me.
Occasionally I go for massages to help reset my whole body, I also foam roll and use a massage gun to help in recovery.
🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
I have been following the cyclical ketogenic diet since 2012. I used this for all my contest prep and it has yield really good results for me. Not every diet is for everyone.
I believe that sustainability is the key to maintaining a diet. I enjoy what I eat on the cyclical ketogenic and don’t feel like I am suffering or my life sucks. 🙂 Isn’t that why so many diets fail? People hate what they eat and have a problem sustaining it.
The only difference between my contest prep and regular days are the calories consumed. I take in fewer calories during contest preps as I need to look a certain way.
I enjoy eating out with my friends and family and I will plan in advance if I know that a particular meal is going to cost me a lot of calories.
I give myself a treat once a week at the moment. That does not apply for contest prep of course. Haha. I give myself treats during prep but it depends on how fast I am progressing. Sometimes it is once every fortnight, sometimes once a month.
My favorite treats are gelato, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and FRIES. I love all kinds of fries.
I’m a huge fan of intermittent fasting and have been on that wagon since 2012. When I travel that goes out of the window. 🙂 But once I am back on routine, everything falls back into place.
👍 What has inspired and motivated you?
The women in fitness who motivate me are Dana Linn Bailey, Juliana Malacarne and Anne Freitas. I first saw Dana on bodybuilding.com and she was not even famous back then.
I love how hardworking she is and over the years, we connected on Instagram. When I did my first show in Cali, she sent me a box of Flag Nor Fail apparel as encouragement and even wrote me a long sweet email when I was going through the bad break up with my ex.
Other women in my life are not in fitness who motivates me. 2 of them are my mother and a church friend, Elyn. My mom is not great at expressing herself as most Asian moms are. But I have watched her over the years and she has such a pure and kind heart. I inspire to be like her. I have never seen someone so selfless and hardworking.
Elyn has so much good energy and she has taught me to take things in my stride, to let go when I have to and not to worry so much. I have never met someone who is always so damn positive. It really rubs off me and I love being around her.
✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
Fitness is a lifestyle. It is a life long journey so there is no finish line. I believe that enjoying the process makes it so much easier to stick to it.
As long as you are human, you are going to screw up at some point in your journey. But the trick is to keep moving forward. Get up, learn from your mistakes and start again.
🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?
Even though I am full time in the food business, I still take on a handful of clients. I do both online and face to face training and I feel that each has its own pros and cons.
📝 Where can we learn more about you?
@melissasarahwee on Instagram and Melissa Sarah Wee on Facebook.
2 thoughts on “How Bulimia Got Me into Training and Competing in NPC Women’s Physique”
I love reading your post. They are so honest and in lighting. I still cant believe those sexxxxxxxxxxxy abs !!!!! Keep doing what ur doing
Started my workouts, I’m inspired and ready to start my journey….i have chosen you as my guru because of your natural tendency of motivating others with your life, curiously not your bodybuilding lifestyle, it was that humble you…