We caught up with the one and only Melissa Doss to chat about where life and fitness have taken her since we last met at the 2014 Granite Games. Melissa is a wife, attorney, CrossFit coach and one badass athlete. We love Melissa’s work ethic and attitude, and what a great role model she is—so much so that we made her our feature athlete on the official 2015 Granite Games poster! Read up on this hardworking lady, and be sure you’re in the stands to cheer her and all of our other Granite Games athletes on this September in St. Cloud, Minnesota!
GG: When we spoke last year, you were looking to strike a better work/life balance. Now that you’re working out and coaching at CrossFit The Tracks, have you achieved that balance?
MD: I would probably be lying if I said yes… So how about a maybe! Haha! I will say that I don’t spend nearly as much time in the car as before and I get to hang out with my husband and close friends more, so that’s a win. Plus, I stay much closer to home. I started at a new law firm in April practicing family law (Tasha Scott Schaffner, PLLC) so I’ve had to put a lot of time into basically starting from scratch and learning a new area of law. I absolutely love my new job though, so I definitely can’t complain!
I’ve had to reorganize my schedule a bit, what with coaching, my new job and trying to fit in my training. I coach M-W-F at 5:30 AM and also Mondays at 6 PM, so I try to squeeze in part of my workout in the morning and typically come back to finish up after work. Or sometimes I’ll finish the day’s training in my basement. Some days I don’t finish everything I need to, but that’s life! I just do the best that I can. I also love to travel and squeeze in long weekends away when I can to help keep me sane!
GG: Even with all of that going on, you took 11th in the Central Region in this year’s Open, so clearly you’ve been making use of the off-season. Have you changed up your training since last year wrapped?
MD: I was pretty happy with how I finished in the Open amongst so many amazing athletes! I may be in the minority here but if I’m being honest, I don’t really enjoy the Open. I think if I was just about doing the workouts with my gym and my results didn’t matter, I would have more fun, because the goal of the Open is ultimately to bring the community together (which it does!). I would do each workout just once and probably celebrate after each one, haha!
This year, Super Regionals added a new level of pressure. It’s pretty difficult not to stress a little when you see a workout you know won’t be your thing and there are only 20 spots, but it’s also pretty cool to see your jam! When I saw the max clean & jerk come up, I knew I would love it. Pull ups and toes to bar… not so much. Overall, the Open was a great experience for me and I learned a lot about myself as an athlete. Same for Regionals. My coach made notes of all the things I need to work on (he showed me the list, there’s a lot!) and he’s been pounding my weaknesses since. There’s an entire sheet of them, so I know I’ll be busy this year!
Since last year, I have started working with Spencer Arnold of Power and Grace. He’s an Olympic lifting badass, which was totally what I needed. I’ve worked with him since September and I’ve PR’ed my snatch and clean & jerk by more than 15 lbs each! My programming focuses heavily on Oly lifts (especially consistency) and gymnastics… and my mindset. I’m getting much better with the whole mental game, but sometimes I still feel like I shouldn’t be on the same floor as many of the women that I look up to. But I’m working on it!
GG: Well, from what we’ve seen, you certainly belong out there with the big dogs! No matter how you look at it, you lead a very busy life. What’s your go-to pre-workout meal or snack when you’re pressed for time?
MD: I’m always pressed for time, so a lot of my meals and snacks are on the go! 99% of the time, I pack breakfast, lunch and snacks the night before work. My go-to breakfasts are always something involving eggs—I promise they’re good heated up! Lunches consist of grain/meat/veggie bowls and my fav snacks are fruit and nut butter, bars (Kill Cliff, Quest, Best Bar Ever), nuts, and sometimes random food like leftover rice and meat. It depends on my mood. Oh, and I have a chocolate and nut butter drawer at work!
GG: So this was only your second year going solo at Regionals, correct? Last year we talked about how Conjugate Black was parting ways to pursue other opportunities. At Regionals this year, you even competed alongside Jen Nobis Dancer. What was that like, going up against your former teammate?
MD: Yes, my first time out of the gate, I actually qualified for Regionals my first year of CrossFit (2013) and competed as an individual in the Central East Region. I was a CrossFit baby and had zero idea what I was doing! I ended up finishing 30th though, and had a great time. Last year, I qualified as an individual but chose team, which was an amazing decision. I knew I wanted to give individual another go this year; my goal was top ten in the region, but Super Regionals put a little wrinkle in that! Still, I’m happy with how I did and I had a fantastic weekend! If I’m still having fun and my bod is healthy next year, my plan is to give individual another go (if I make it of course!!). After that, who knows?
Competing against Jen: There are no words to describe Jen. She’s my best friend in the entire world and I loved competing against/alongside her this year! I was cheering for her while working out, haha! I liked it best when we weren’t in the same heats so I could watch her. I remember in the final workout (the muscle up/clean ladder), I had tears in my eyes watching her. She has been working on her weaknesses since last year, muscle ups being one of them, and absolutely killed that workout! She won her heat! Same for the handstand push up workout (Event 6, I think). I was so incredibly proud of her, not just for her performance but for her attitude. She just gets me and always knows what to say to keep me smiling and having fun while competing.
GG: And from the looks of Facebook and Instagram, you’ve been doing the Granite Games Qualifier workouts right along with the rest of us. What’s your favorite been so far?
MD: I have!! As I mentioned above, qualifiers aren’t my favorite thing in the entire world, but this one has been pretty fun and way less pressure than the Open! I’d say my favorite workout so far was the max snatch (well, double snatch). I can’t believe those words just came out of my mouth, but I was so proud of myself during that workout. As we all know, snatching isn’t my jam, but I saw the workout, sucked it up, put a smile on my face and ended up hitting 5 pounds away from my snatch PR both times! I remember saying, “I want to keep snatching” when the 6 mins ran out. For me, the snatch workout was a milestone and gave me a boost of snatching confidence… But that doesn’t mean I want to do any more of it at the Granite Games! During Regionals, the snatch event didn’t go as planned for me, so it was nice to have a little bit of personal redemption.
GG: That’s great! We can’t promise no snatching come September, but maybe you’re on a roll now! One more question: I see you’re going to be featured in the Miss Fit Kentucky 2016 calendar. I think it’s so great that women, and young girls especially, have strong healthy role models to look up to for a healthy body image. Do you consider yourself a role model?
MD: Yes, I will be in the calendar! When they first asked me, I hesitated, but when I learned more about the message the calendar was trying to portray, I was all about it. Anything that empowers women to be the beautiful selves that we are, I’m all for.
As for being a role model: A couple of years ago, if you asked me this question, I would have said that I don’t think women and young girls look up to me (or at least I didn’t know they did). However, I’ve had so many amazing women AND men reach out to me to tell me they love my mindset about food, CrossFit, work/life balance, my confidence, or whatever it maybe, which is very flattering! The best compliment I can receive is when someone tells me that his or her daughter thinks I’m pretty cool and looks up to me. Like it or not, when you put yourself out there, you are a role model, good or bad. I would hope I’m a positive role model, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not perfect.
As for body image, I think women’s bodies are simply beautiful. We come in all shapes and sizes and have to appreciate what God gave us. As someone who used to suffer from an eating disorder, this topic is very, very near and dear to my heart. When I stopped focusing on the scale, my clothing size, and calories, I started loving my bod. Seeing food as fuel and focusing on how amazing bodies are for what they can do vs. what they look like has 100 % changed my mindset.
I’ve never been happier and I partially have CrossFit to thank for that mindset. Plus, I think as I get older, I care less and less what people think about me and just do what makes me happy. I admit that nothing drives me crazier than fat talk or talking down about your body, especially in front of girls and young women. They see and hear everything we do, so I try to always be a good role model when it comes to projecting a healthy body image. Yeah, I have days where I feel more bloated than others from eating too many desserts or drinking too much wine, but instead of complaining about it, I just try to clean up my diet for a few days and move on. There’s more to life than worrying about things that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things… I’d rather be out enjoying life!
Steve Diamond Elements
Top: Andy Williamson Photography
Middle: Dan Wiseman
Bottom: Andy Williamson Photography