Melissa Rudy

A lifelong Cincinnatian, Melissa earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from University of Cincinnati before breaking into the online content field in 2000. As a Digital Journalist for SparkPeople, she enjoys helping others meet their wellness goals by writing about all aspects of healthy living. An avid runner and group fitness addict, Melissa lives in Loveland with her guitarist husband and three feisty daughters.

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Hit Your Goals Out of the Park with Didi Wong

Inspirational women are all around us, teaching, motivating and leading others by example through the way they live their lives. The Spark Your Life Series connects you to thought-provoking female leaders whose stories can help you achieve life balance, a health and fitness goal or a better state of mind.

This month, we talked to Didi Wong, a master practitioner of integrative wellness and life coaching, about how she sets goals and creates action plans to go after them. Click here for your own goal-setting action plan.

About Didi

As a mother of four who is also a business owner, life coach and internet personality, Didi Wong believes that balance is essential to success in every element of life, from fitness and nutrition to family and relationships. That philosophy has reflected in her very diversified life. Raised in Hong Kong and England, Didi's lifelong dreams of being on Broadway led her to attend college in the United States, where she earned a degree in public relations from Boston University's College of Communication. Didi then moved to New York City, where she worked in PR for such major companies as Vera Wang, The New York City Ballet and Pier 59 Studios. After moving to Los Angeles with her husband, Didi's TV appearance on a reality fitness competition series earned her legions of fans—but it was yoga that finally brought her peace and fulfillment.

Following her passion for yoga, Didi launched her own teaching studio, Chakras by didi. Her business success was followed by motherhood, and then transitioned to a new role as an integrative wellness and life coach. Didi believes that with proper balance, time management, positivity and love, anything is possible.

Describe yourself in three words.
Positive, honest, blessed

How did you get started in the fitness/wellness industry?
I have always been into sports and was on the team for the China Junior Olympics when I was seven. Growing up, I was given the opportunity to take all types of dance classes—from ballet to tap to Latin ballroom dancing—and I was a member of every team you can imagine during high school. All of this set my foundation to do something in the fitness and wellness industry. As I grew older, I became very passionate about mental health. I just love the combination of mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health coming together to make one whole, and that is why I pursued certifications at Integrative Wellness Academy.

How does life coaching tie in with fitness?
Life coaching is considered a field in the health and fitness industry because it exercises one's mental health. To live a full, healthy life, one must first strive to be mentally healthy. As a life coach, I help guide my clients to think about changes they can make in their lives, and pose powerful questions that lead them to achieve a happier, healthier life.

You've achieved a lot throughout your career. What are your top three tips for setting realistic (but motivating) goals?
1. Set a goal that you are passionate about, then you will be more likely to achieve it efficiently and accurately.
2. Set a goal that is achievable (but not drastic) within a short period of time.
3. Set a goal that allows you to physically count or see the results that will motivate you to keep on going. For example, seeing your bank statement increase, seeing your body fat percentage decrease or knowing you are drinking one soda a day instead of four will inspire you to continue.

What are the most important characteristics that a goal should have?
A goal should be realistic, practical and within your "season." For example, it is not realistic, practical or seasonal to say that you want to lose all 30 pounds of your pregnancy weight a month after the birth of your baby, or that you will run a marathon in one month when you haven't been training. It's also a good idea to be specific with a goal and take baby steps, because it will give you great satisfaction when you achieve it and will motivate you to continue.

Once a goal is set, how do you stay motivated to achieve it?
I always recommend visualization in the form of a vision board, and complementing it by reading motivating blogs and inspirational stories. I love "rewards," too. They don't have to be expensive or grand—it could be buying yourself a new T-shirt or a manicure, or taking extra time to do something fun. I also recommend setting a date by which you want to achieve the goal, so you stay motivated for a certain time period. For example, if you want to lose weight, register for a 5K or plan a big birthday party so that you are working toward that event.

What's the best goal-setting advice you've ever received?
To not just think it, but do it.

What are your top three tips for staying motivated when a goal seems out of reach, or when progress seems slow?
1. When your goal seems out of reach, reassess the goal and make a more achievable one!
2. When progress seems slow, look at what actions you are taking to achieve it. Can you increase the time spent, or can you add some other action to achieve it more efficiently?
3. Stay motivated by talking about your goal out loud to friends and family, and have someone hold you accountable.

Was there ever a time when you did not achieve a goal, or when you had to adjust or reevaluate a goal? What did you learn from that experience?
Yes! In business, sometimes goals are set to motivate myself or the team. There are times when the goals are pretty high, and when setting them, I know already there is a slight chance that they may not be met. The lesson I learn on a daily basis with my business goals is that I must keep trekking, and sometimes I must sprint to the finish line. If we don't meet the goal one month, we work harder the next month.

Being a CEO, I wear many hats. If I can keep my team motivated like I keep myself motivated, that's a big achievement already. The key is to build the best team.

Get Your Action Plan

Achieve your own goals with advice from Didi Wong.

Click here for your goal-setting action plan that shows you how to break down five common goals into more achievable steps.

Posted 5/22/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 1,547 views

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Busting 4 Myths About Low- or No-Calorie Beverages

With so much health information swirling around, both online and off, you're bound to come across your fair share of myths on the path to wellness. In addition to food and fitness, there are plenty of misconceptions about beverages as well. One day you might hear that your favorite low- or no-calorie drink is good for you, and the next day an article claims that it could jeopardize your health or send your weight soaring. How do you know what to believe and what to ignore?

Posted 5/18/2017  12:00:00 PM By: Melissa Rudy : 10,127 views

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40 Amazingly Easy Recipes with 5 Ingredients or Less

How many times have you cracked open a cookbook or clicked a recipe link only to think, "Forget it, that's way too complicated" before opting for takeout? When you're short on time, energy and money, a long list of ingredients can be daunting enough to thwart even the noblest of cooking intentions. Before weeknight chaos renders the drive-thru dangerously appealing, allow us to introduce some of our favorite recipes that require five (or fewer) components. Don't let their simplicity fool you: These dishes are low on hassle, but high on flavor.

Posted 5/15/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 52 comments   12,394 views

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Are Compression Garments Worth the Squeeze on Your Wallet?

If hearing the term "compression garments" calls to mind Grandma's not-so-stylish orthotic pantyhose, it's time to expand the definition. These days, it refers more to the fitted sleeves and socks that hug the legs of runners, walkers, weight lifters and other active folks, enticed by the promise of greater endurance and accelerated recovery. Often seen in neon colors and fun patterns, these functional garments can really brighten up a race course—but do they offer any real benefits beyond their fashion factor?

Posted 5/12/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 62 comments   17,624 views

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7 Fun Ways to Visually Track Weight Loss Progress

When you're focused on losing a certain amount of weight, it's easy to fall into the trap of getting fixated on (or even obsessed with) the scale. Although there's nothing wrong with moving and meal-planning with the goal of reducing that number in mind, paying too much attention to a daily readout at your feet can actually send your motivation into a downward spiral.

Posted 5/12/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 62 comments   24,407 views

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12 Things You Should Never to Say to Yourself

"If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."
At some point, we've all been on the receiving end of that golden nugget of advice from well-meaning parents, grandparents and teachers, and most of us follow it—at least when it comes to talking to other people. You'd never dream of telling your co-worker that her pants are unflattering for her figure or suggesting to your sister that she's too heavy to register for a 5K race, but you seem to have no problem saying those same things (or far worse) to yourself.

Posted 5/3/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 79 comments   29,977 views

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How Much Exercise Do You REALLY Need to Lose Weight?

It's not exactly earth-shattering news that exercise is essential for shedding pounds. Along with proper nutrition and a calorie-moderated diet, regular activity is a critical piece of the weight-loss equation—but how much? If you feel like the gym has become your second home, or if you're spending more hours walking, running or doing fitness videos than hanging out with your family, you might be overdoing it. Conversely, if your daily exercise consists of a 15-minute stroll around the block, you might need to ramp up your efforts to see real results.
Fortunately, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has provided some scientific guidance so you don't have to rely on guesswork.

Posted 5/2/2017  6:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 1400 comments   1,509,307 views

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8 Incredible Healthy Cookbooks You’ll Devour

These days, with exciting new recipes just a click away, we've come to rely less on old-school cookbooks and more on computers, apps and mobile devices for finding delectable dishes. Technology can be a great tool for reaching your nutrition goals and connecting with an online community, but there are times when it's just nice to relax and flip through the pages of an honest-to-goodness cookbook in search of healthy eating inspiration. Plus, when you're throwing together ingredients in the kitchen, it's often easier to refer to a hard-copy recipe instead of scrolling down a screen.

Posted 4/25/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 77 comments   19,346 views

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25 Healthy Outdoor Dishes for a Perfect Picnic

Weight loss is no walk in the park—especially in spring and summer, when it seems like you're constantly surrounded by calorie-packed cookouts and patio parties. But there's no reason your healthy lifestyle has to wilt in the sun. With some smart pre-planning, you can stick to your nutrition plan at the park, the pool, the beach or your own backyard.

Posted 4/21/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 77 comments   19,931 views

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You're NOT Too Heavy for Yoga!

If your idea of yoga is a stick-thin woman gracefully contorting herself into pretzel-like poses without breaking a sweat, it's time to shift your perspective. One of the things we adore the most about this ancient fitness practice is that people of all sizes, shapes and skill levels can reap its many physical, mental and spiritual benefits. Wherever you are on the path to your goals, yoga is a great way to stretch out after running, to relieve chronic aches and pains or to squeeze in an impromptu workout from your office chair.

Posted 4/20/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 127 comments   86,329 views

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33 Unexpected Ways to Use Your Muffin Pan

If the muffin isn't the world's most perfect food, it's definitely in the running. Because it's pre-portioned, it's easy to indulge your cravings in moderation while staying within your target calorie count (but watch out for those oversized, calorie-filled muffins you can find in grocery stores or coffeehouses). Muffins are also perfectly portable—you can easily enjoy them as an on-the-go breakfast, toss them in your lunch bag on the way out the door or serve them as kid-friendly after-school snacks.

When you think of muffins, you probably think of bananabran or blueberry—and those classic options are all mouth-watering in their own right—but there are plenty of unconventional ways to put your muffin pan to work. Which of these yummy ideas would you like to try?

Posted 4/5/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 60 comments   19,932 views

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Do Essential Oils Live up to the Hype?

Even if you've never used essential oils, you probably know someone who swears by them. Derived from plants, these highly concentrated oils can be applied topically on the skin or inhaled through aromatherapy—all with the goal of enhancing physical and mental wellness.

Posted 4/3/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 104 comments   29,511 views

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12 Entertaining Podcasts to Get You Through Your Next Workout

Even with all the right mantras, plenty of motivation and a killer playlist, there will inevitably be days when your walk, run or workout feels like it's moving in slow motion. Thanks to technology, your very own on-demand entertainment is just a few clicks away. A motivating podcast can do wonders to speed up an exercise session and keep your mind engaged—maybe even inspired—from the first step to the last.

Posted 3/31/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 53 comments   27,418 views

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10 Essential Tools to Buy Before You Start Gardening

Have you always admired other people's gardens, while bemoaning your own lack of a green thumb? Does it seem like gardening would be too expensive, too time-consuming or too difficult of a hobby to pursue?
Tending a garden is a great way to grow your own high-quality produce and beautiful blossoms while also burning calories, busting stress and getting some beneficial fresh air. Just like the right kitchen equipment takes the hassle out of cooking, having good gardening essentials on hand will make your planting debut easier (and cheaper) than you might think. The best part is, you don't have to plant a money tree to afford these simple basics.

Posted 3/29/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 82 comments   17,412 views

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65 of the Most Motivating Mantras

Most of us are surrounded by voices. Spouses, doctors, trainers, kids, workout partners—all of them have their own tips, advice and opinions (some helpful, some not so much) about what we should do to lose weight, get fit and lead healthier lives. But when was the last time you listened to your own voice? We all have an inner monologue—and it's more influential than you might think.

Posted 3/17/2017  12:00:00 AM By: Melissa Rudy : 107 comments   47,378 views

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