Melissa Grelo, Making It Work
That smart, funny, strong, and honest Melissa Grelo you love as co-host of The Social? That’s her through and through in real life too.
Up at 6 a.m. to work out for half an hour. Shower and get ready. Wake up her daughter and help her get ready for school or camp. Family breakfast together just before 8 a.m. and then out the door to drop her off. Transit into work by 9 a.m. Into hair and makeup. Morning meeting at 10 a.m. Research for show. Rehearsal. Into wardrobe and final hair and makeup. Live show from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Meet and greet with the audience. Post-mortem with the executive producer. A look ahead at the next show. Office hours to meet with producers for segments and fittings with a stylist. Head home. Pick up, daughter. Eat an early dinner.
Bedtime routine by 7:30 p.m. In bed by 8:30 p.m.
Oof! This is the usual whirlwind weekday for Melissa Grelo, co-host of TV show The Social. And that’s an easy day, compared to when she fills in as an anchor on your Morning. Those days have her in a car service at 4 a.m. (which forces her to cut out her morning workout), on-air from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., followed by the entire routine for the Social.
We’re tired of just detailing her routine, never mind actually living it. And yet the 42-year-old TV personality appears to do it with ease. “Those days are rough,” admits Melissa. While those days can be tough and may have other people scrambling to carve out more time in the day to get things done or even just to zone out to some Netflix, Melissa is strict about getting her sleep. “I don’t like to shorten sleep. It is vital to me. Earplugs, blackout blinds, an eye mask; I use all of these things so that I am in bed uninterrupted.”
Melissa’s commitment to getting the rest she needs is admirable, as is her overall approach to life and her career. After her cover shoot for D’FYNE, we grabbed some time with her to chat about fitness, the pressure of being in the public eye and aging.
What is your M.O. when it comes to working out?
Melissa Grelo: I work out at home and alone. I prefer this because I can concentrate better. I have a small home gym. I’ve trained with many trainers for many years and I’ve got a routine down. I keep it short and efficient; I really enjoy circuit training. You have to keep moving. I’m breathless the whole workout. Stopping is not a good option.
How do you stay so committed to working out regularly?
MG: In the last three to five years, the anxiety I had in my early 20s bubbled up in an intense way and I should have seen it coming. I was burning the candle at both ends, not taking care of much in the right way. I had a bad spout of pretty frequent panic attacks.
I knew it was all tied together, mind, body, soul. That’s when workouts became front and center before exploring other options. Workouts had become sporadic: I was a new mom and exhausted. I was active since I was a little kid so I knew the routine and my schedule and self-discipline that I had let slide but it’s the first line of defense. I knew fitness was the answer.
That and sleep. I cleared my calendar and I got really simple: I said I need seven to eight hours of sleep and to work out; everything after that is secondary. Three years ago I focused at least five days a week on strength or cardio or both. I was stretching myself too thin, and it helps to take that energy and kick ass at the gym with hard workouts so that I can start the day in a balanced state. I also started meditating. I started at night when it was calm and quiet and then I could do it on my morning commute on the train or at different spots of the day if I felt I needed a break. Or if a day felt hectic I’d stop, go outside into the sun for a walk without my phone.
Melissa Grelo, Have you always been into fitness?
MG: My family business is a horse farm where we breed, train, and instruct the whole nine yards. It’s in Caledon, Ontario. I get up there as often as I can. It’s the beginning of my entire whole health journey. Because being born and raised on a farm, your physical right from being a kid. There were chores to do for me and my sister right from when we could work. We were physical and strong kids because that is what being a farm kid is all about. We were mucking stalls hauling hay bales and carrying huge buckets filled with water.
By the very nature of living on a farm you’re in great shape; you have to be in great shape in order to do your chores. I only moved out when I was 26 so until I left home that was the regular routine. I had abs and biceps by the time I was eight years old and that’s even a joke. Riding horses too is very physical. My body feels best being active. It was programmed in me from a very early age to have to be moving. That gave me all of the strength discipline and work ethic to not only work hard but also know you have to keep your body in tip-top shape for physical and mental health.
How does being on TV and in the public eye impact your personal body image?
MG: It goes without saying that appearance as a woman on TV is of huge importance because everyone has an opinion. I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t have an impact. The difference is because I’ve always been active, for me it was about redefining people’s thoughts of what a fit person looks like on TV. The camera adds 20 pounds and this is one thing that plays with you; I’m in great shape, strong, and very healthy. And when you see yourself on camera, it plays on your mind. When we do meet and greets after the show and everybody says, “You’re so much smaller in person!” and you think “What do I look like on TV?”
You have to remind yourself that even though Canada is watching you on TV, what you see every day in the mirror is reality; what they see is not reality. Also, I’m very open and proud and talk often on the show about my fitness and taking care of myself physically for so many reasons. I think showing women and young girls that if you want that level of fitness, I’m in the gym five days a week. That’s what you have to do, not just to look a certain way but for me, it’s about keeping myself on the rails. Strong is sexy and muscles are sexy.
We have an amazing platform with the show to do that. We have hair, makeup, and wardrobe, and life seems perfect, but no, it’s not. You should be working for what you want. You want to be able to keep up with your kids, and pick them up and toss them around; carry groceries, live life with little or no injuries; you have to work for that. I talk about that a lot on the show because as women we are often fed one standard of beauty, but there are so many different ways to be strong, and as long as you know yours that should fuel how you live your life.
With your daughter, how are you raising her?
MG: First and foremost, language in our household is extremely important and I lead by example. She knows mommy exercises. language used about exercising has nothing to do with weight; it has to do with strength. And it is about being able to keep up with her and your body is your vehicle. Mommy wants to be able to keep running up and down stairs, to ride bikes together, to run, and climb.
The philosophy in our household—Dad works out as well—it’s not about aesthetics, it’s about function. It’s the same approach for food. When we speak about food, it’s not about eating too much or too little, or about calories or fat. Food is fuel. Like most kids her age, she loves carbs and starch. We challenge that by picking food for our meals based on color from the rainbow.
You’ve talked openly about your experience with getting pregnant.
MG: I’m type-A, I’m ambitious. I like to start projects and keep busy and keep creating and that is one of the moments in life when you think you’re in the driver’s seat and you’re not and you have a lot of lessons to learn as a result. When we got married we knew we wanted to have kids, but not right away. My career was kicking into high gear at that point.
So once you think, “OK, now I want to have kids,” and you think it happens that way because I’m a planner; well we quickly learned it was not going to go as easily as we thought. I was 34 and after six months we started a whole arsenal of tools. One is an AMH test to measure ovarian reserve and the quality of eggs. because I’m a planner and I’m into numbers it turned out that even though I was chrono-logically 34 to 35 at the time my eggs were seen as 42 and that put the fear of God in all of us because the percentage of women able to conceive that point is extremely low.
We said we are not waiting for a year. We started doing various fertility interventions. We did everything up to IVF and that was a two-and-a-half-year journey we were so down and exhausted and we said we were going to take a break. The Social was greenlit to happen and I said This is assigned, let’s stop and refocus, I have a show to launch. And then in the summer before it launched, I got pregnant naturally. So that’s just life. At the time I was petrified because I thought my boss was going to kill me!
How do you feel about aging?
MG: I hope that as I get older, more women my age brace and say they’re loud and proud. It doesn’t happen on TV. but Social and its audience have proven there is a shift where women are embracing age. I think that more women in my position should state their age, embrace their age, and still continue to live a full life.
Now, I’m the one looking at women in their 60s like the madonnas of the world and thinking, “There is such a full life ahead.” Say it and be it to the fullest. We are living longer, we have more access to knowledge and information about health and longevity and you can either be fearful and let it control you or you can take life by the balls and own it. And I hope that it’s encouraging for younger women behind me but also women my age to really be like, “The youngest you’ll ever be is right now,” and you’ve got a lot of life ahead of you if you’re lucky.
Photos By CHRIS V.LINTON Follow (@CHRISVLINTON}