Melissa is a content creator, stylist and world explorer. Born and raised in the small town of St-Lambert, Quebec, she now calls Toronto home. After seven years as a TV host, she felt stuck in a place that she no longer wanted to be in. Last summer, she made the decision to leave the television world behind and embrace the freelance life. She now runs her lifestyle website where she shares her passion for running, wellness, travel, food and fashion. Read on to learn about her journey to self love, how she stays motivated, and how she practices self-care while on the road…
You share a lot about self love and acceptance. How did your journey begin?
My journey with self love has been a long and complicated one. I was teased and bullied a lot growing up for having red hair, freckles and being skinny. I also had an eating disorder as a teenager for several years that almost landed me in the hospital.
Even in previous relationships, I had a hard time believing I had any value and didn’t really love myself deep down. It was only after doing a lot of work with a therapist and also getting myself out of those toxic relationships that I was able to really start accepting myself.
My husband has also been key in my journey, accepting and loving me for who I am. I would say the last three or four years, it’s really when I started feeling at peace with who I am and proud of my journey.
Have you always been an active person?
I have always been an active person. Growing up, I did it all. I swam competitively, skiied, played tennis, figured skated, did karate, etc.
When did you first start running?
I only started running about three years ago and only more seriously the past two years.
You shared on Instagram that you’re training for a half marathon. When is the half marathon and what keeps you motivated?
This will be the first ever half marathon I’ve ever done. I was signed up for one last year but ended up getting injured so had to opt out, which was the worst feeling in the world. So I feel like there’s some unfinished business to take care of this year. The first half I’ll be doing is on May 7th, I’ll be running the BMO Vancouver half marathon, followed by the Rock N’ Roll half marathon in San Diego in June, on the day of my birthday.
I think what keeps me motivated is proving to myself that a) I can actually run a half marathon, as I’ve only run shorter distances in the past b) to be the healthiest and strongest version of myself c) challenging and surpassing myself.
What’s your favourite fitness line?
That’s a hard question because every brand has something really cool and unique. I’m a big fan of Nike‘s training and running gear, I also love Adidas‘ more lifestyle inspired garments. I recently discovered a Canadian brand called Hyba, that has cool gear at a great price. I also love Michi, a brand from Toronto. They make the most comfortable leggings and sexiest bras!
You’re a bit of a world explorer. What’s your most memorable travel experience so far?
Hardest question to answer. I think last summer’s trip to Kauai stood up a lot for me just because of how beautiful the island is. It was a great surf trip but also great trip to explore the countryside and get to know the local culture. I was really moved by my time there. Also, living out of a van in California this past fall was a major highlight thus far.
You traveled around in a camper van! What was that like?
It was hands down the best experience of my life. It taught me a lot about being self-sufficient and living in minimalism. It also gave me a great sense of freedom. There’s nothing quite like waking up in a new place every day and being able to take your “home” with you wherever you go.
How do you practice self-care while traveling?
Self-care is huge for me, no matter if I’m traveling or at home. I make it a point to eat properly when I travel, even if that means going to do groceries or spending a little more money on getting good vegan food or cold-pressed juices. I also make it a point to sign up for local fitness classes or going out for runs. It’s a top priority for me even when I travel.
What’s the one item you never leave home without?
My phone because it allows me to work no matter where I am or what I’m doing. I also have some great meditation apps, music, organization apps, etc. that allow me to use the phone for so many different purposes and keep me on track.
What are your favourite travel and fitness apps?
I love the NTC app, it’s a great way to get a short workout in no matter where you are – hotel room, park, gym, etc. The NRC is also my go-to running app, which allows me to keep on track of my race training. As for travel apps, I’m a big fan of rideshare apps like Lyft and Uber when I travel, also Ubereats, when I’m busy on the road and don’t have time to go out and get myself food.
A good vegan meal with a cold-pressed juice and homemade vegan treat. In Toronto, my favorite spots to go eat are Fresh, Live and Hogtown Vegan. I have yet to go to Planta, but heard it’s great! I miss it when I’m away!
What has traveling taught you about yourself?
Traveling has taught me so much. I learn something new on every single trip, big or small about myself and so much about the world around me and us as humans. I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many incredible people that have taught me so much.
Traveling has taught me how to be self-sufficient, to be flexible because anything can happen when you travel. It has also taught me to be a better listener and have more understanding.
What’s on your travel bucket list this year?
Oh man… Ideally, I would love to go to Asia and Australia/New Zealand this year. I hope my schedule and finances will permit such a trip. But it’s quite high on my list!
Thanks so much for sharing, Melissa!
(Photos courtesy of Melissa Offner.)