When I interviewed her for this article, Melanie McLouth worried that her story sounded “boring compared to the ladies that run marathons and triathlons.” But the point of this column, and Title Nine itself, is that there is no such thing as “ordinary” when a woman take fitness seriously…and has fun doing it. Sometimes the quiet achievements are most impressive.

Melanie is a registered nurse in the labor and delivery department of a rural hospital in Michigan. “It’s the perfect job,” she says, “meeting new, young families who are having a baby.” Still, she works twelve-hour shifts and, by the time she gets home, she’s been on her feet for fifteen hours. On her days off, “I’m up at the crack of dawn to get Max off to school. Then my two year old is up and demanding—you name it. In between, my sweet Riley wakes up and he needs to get off to preschool by 11:45. Cleaning, laundry, yard work, cooking, and working out have to fit in somewhere.”

And they all do. Melanie squeezes in three workouts a week on her Total Gym and at least one power walk with her black lab Charley on her days off.


Melanie and Guss

For most of us, “working in working out” can be a juggling act. For Melanie, it almost literally is. “Sometimes, Gus (my two year old) won’t let mommy work out and wants me to hold him. I say, ‘Come on up, Gus’ and the Gusser hops onto my Total Gym and away we go, giggling and smiling.” Her reaction to working out while carrying an extra thirty-two pounds? “I just think: Oh well, I’m getting stronger.”

Speaking to Melanie, it’s obvious that the effects of such strength are far reaching. Like most of us, she works out to “keep my strength up and keep my weight down…and fit my clothes!” But, more importantly, working in those workouts transforms other aspects of her life. As Melanie puts it: “When, I feel great about myself, I have more patience for my family and at work.”

You don’t have to be a triathlete to be a champion.


Home: Three-bedroom house in the country. Five acres surrounded by farm fields.

Occupation: Registered Nurse: Labor and Delivery

Partner: Husband Thomas of 19 years

Children: Max (8), Riley (5), Gustav (2). All boys!

Age: 39

Height: 5’6”

Weight: 133 lbs

Sports, past and present: Softball, swimming, track, walking, strength training.

Athletic accomplishments: Just staying in shape as a busy mom and nurse.

Little known fact about you: I hate TV. I’m a reader.

Environmentally incorrect preference: I failed at cloth diapers and use disposable.

Guilty pleasure: I eat peanut butter out of the jar.

Most embarrassing moment: I’m too old…I can’t think of one!

Favorite thing to do when not working or working out: Gardening, reading, painting.

Moment of Inspiration: I’ll never forget when my son Riley was born. I had a tough pregnancy, which required a lot of meds to stop labor, etc. I was worried he would not be normal. When I saw his face and little body crying (and he was okay)…words cannot describe the inner calm and peace I had for him that very instant. I will never forget.

Favorite Quote: “I’ve got my big girl panties on,” which means I’m ready and can handle whatever comes my way.


I work out any spare chance I can get.