Nicole Melillo - Figure Competitor

* 2017 Figure Arnold Classic Int'l Runner-up

Nicole: I took 4 years off since my last article, I felt that my head was not in the right space to compete and I allowed too many outside voices to influence how I thought and what I what I wanted out of this sport. I am very happy I took the time off because when I came back to competing, I knew who I was and where I wanted to go.

My First show back was in October 2016 in Miami, a National Qualifying Show. Awesome way to come back and I took 4th in my class. I was beyond thrilled! Instead of taking my bid to Nationals, my coach and I decided that it would be best for me to hold off, have more time to develop and go for a BIGGER show like The Arnold Classic International in Columbus, OH. UM, WOW! Talk about a dream come true to step on a stage where so many professionals I admire have graced the stage. I knew this would take everything in me, but to give myself the shot I deserve, the time, sweat, tears, cost, and craziness was all worth it to say "I have competed in one of the LARGEST Internationally Recognized Shows in the Country!"

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From the moment I stepped off the plane from Fort Lauderdale, FL, to the moment we entered the Athlete's Check-In at the Columbus Ohio Convention Center, I was on cloud 9. I felt as though I was at the Olympics because you saw competitors from all over the world in their sweat suits representing their country, speaking different languages and the upmost professionalism throughout the entire checkin. Everyone was at The Arnold bringing their very best!

The day of Prejudging, I remember it as though it was yesterday. I woke up to head to my tanning appointment. I walked the hallways of the convention center alone with my head up high and a very humble yet confident smile on my face. Today is going to be a BIG day for me! After my tan was complete, I made it back to my room where I needed to eat and prepare for the stage. Hair and Makeup must be perfect, suit must be placed on securely and sparkle enough to capture the judges eyes and all I have to do is glide on stage present better than any posing practice leading up to this day and SMILE... :) As I entered backstage, I was greeted warmly by an NPC Photographer that has always been very kind to me. Mr. Brooks took my hand and escorted me on the stage while no one was looking. He wanted me to really get the feel for where I was and how far I had come in such a short time period. There are still no words to describe this moment in my career! Thank you Mr. Brooks, you are forever my Lucky Charm!

As I walked off stage during Pre-judging, it still did not sink in that I was in the TOP 5 for Finals until my coach greeted me with a huge hug, smiled and whispered in my ear "You are in the Top 5!" Me? I am in the Top 5 at the Arnold??? ME!!!!! Never imagined this day to be a reality! I did it!!!!!

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Finals came and all competitors where moved to the huge exhibit hall where all the vendors, supplement company's, sports wear, and spectators are free to come in and out, thousands of people watching you from every angle. They line you up and you get to parade through thousands of people, people in awe, people taking your picture but it all felt normal or my adrenaline was through the roof unaware of what was going on as I walked in proud with a big smile on my face. We all took the stage one last time, they pulled the Top 5 to go back on, present our model pose and stand on the side as they called us out for our awards. I remember looking at so many bright lights and just trying to smile and be calm, but most importantly, hear my name. As they got down to two people, I was in disbelief that could take first, I had made it to two people standing. I was called as Runner Up for Figure Open Class A. I hugged the first place winner and congratulated her as I proudly took my 2nd prize trophy. In my heart, I had won just by standing on this famous stage. I made a dream of mine come true and that was the best award ever.

Since the Arnold a lot has changed! I parted ways with my coach and began working with someone I have idolized since I began my journey as a Figure Competitor. I would watch her posing presentation over and over until it was my day to step on stage in Ohio. I was honored when she agreed to take me on as her only client for this upcoming show. She basically took everything I knew and taught me a new way that she used in her show preps. For the most part I train body parts regularly each week, reps and weight can vary depending on my strength or what I need to accomplish. The cardio had become more intense but less. I have learned to love the stairs and HIIT (high intensity interval training). I no longer had someone mapping out a diet of what to eat per meal, now I had to learn to count macros and be accountable for everything that I choose to eat making sure I hit the desired macros on each day. Finally, the most challenging part, all my coaching and posing would be done either through phone, email, or FaceTime. I have never met my coach in person, I am now my coach in the gym, I am responsible for getting my training done, counting my reps, and learning my body and how it reacts to everything we are doing for the BIG Day. Talk about growing up... ;) As challenging as this as has been, I would NOT change my decision and do it again, she has taught me more about myself than I could have ever asked for... A true inspiration and motivator even if it is a phone call or email.

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The BIGGEST Challenge I encountered during this prep for North American Championships, was the fact that I left a coach that I knew so well and whom did an amazing job to get me more than ready for The Arnold. I felt so many emotions before making the decision, after I made the switch and braking the news to him. The best way I can ever explain that feeling, I felt like I had divorced my partner in life and now had to relearn how to live for myself. It was terribly hard for me as I am a person that has the upmost respect and loyalty for those that I care for and have only wanted the best for me, but I needed to do this for me, grow and challenge myself. It had nothing to do with him, it was time for a new chapter in my career as a Figure Competitor. The battles in my head and heart where some of the worst negative feelings, but once I let go, completely let go and allowed myself to embrace my new coach and her training... Results, clarity and peace of mind surfaced with confidence and a huge smile. No matter what happens in this show, I know that I have the best support backing me and believed in myself enough to do what was best for my overall wellbeing. There is nothing more rewarding than this clarity!

How does being an Athlete effect your entire life? I love this question... It EFFECTS EVERYTHING! To all future competitors, you must LOVE this sport and know who you are inside and out. Forget the training, aches, pains, diet, and countless hours you spend in a gym or cooking, that is the EASY part! I have personally given up everything for this sport, Everything! My Family finally understands what I am doing especially after The Arnold, my brother is the hugest supporter I have and has been there for my highs and lows, he is truly my Rock! I know exactly who my true friends are, I can count all of them on almost both hands... The struggle of finances are always real and come at the worst times, but I keep pushing everyday knowing that I am building my future. My social and love life, next to nonexistent! Going out is not the same and I am very selective in what I do with my spare time as it is so limited and I will not compromise my hard work. I know one day I will have the dream relationship, but right now I am married to my goal, my dream and for me this is worth putting love on hold. It has made me stronger inside, I know who I am, what I am worth and what I will NOT tolerate. The people in my life today, are the people that will be in my life forever. I love you ALL dearly ...

When my coach isn't around to help me with posing, I have the undying love and support from my babe ???? #familyday #gymlife #fitfam #fitpnut #furmom #finnboy #myunicorn #fitlife #girlswithmuscle #fitness #gymrat #sundayfunday #nodaysoff #workhard #everyday #everymomentcounts #figurecompetitor #athlete #onamission #6weeks #dedication #dowhatyoulove #instafitness #instagood #fitnessaddict #loveofmylife #mylittlemonster #girlandherdog ??

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As I hope for this upcoming show to be my pro debut, I plan on taking my career as far as the stars will allow me. It is my dream to travel and see the world and I would love the opportunity to compete internationally, become an internationally known Athlete and of course grace the stage of the Olympia. But, competing is not everything for me, it is just a part of who I am and one of my greatest talents. I want nothing more than to educate young adults specifically about their self worth. I have battled and still battle self image issues, confidence, self-esteem, and codependency. I believe I have so much to offer given my personal experience and through health and fitness. Fitpnut is not only the name of my Fitness Company, it will be a brand that female's and male's can turn to for real truth, clarity and a real person.

Instagram: @lilfitpnut

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