After taking time off to care for her premature twin boys, Melissa Hall is making a grand entrance back into fitness. Here, with her fifth Oxygen cover and first fitness competition in four years, she appears to be unaffected by time. Thanks to a home gym built by her husband, Tony Little, and a new training technique that’s done wonders for her body, the former Ms. Bikini Universe shed 40 pounds of post-baby weight, rediscovered her cover-worthy body, and returned to the world of competing – and she’s never been happier.
With her impressive competitive history, her return to the stage comes as no surprise. Formerly Miss Minnesota USA and a Minnesota Vikings pro cheerleader, Melissa was first inspired to compete in fitness when she saw the Fitness America pageant on ESPN. She ended up competing in that very show, and a few years later, in 2005, claimed the title of Ms. Bikini Universe.
“It’s kind of like coming out of retirement,” says Melissa, who competed in the WBFF World Championship this past August for the first time since 2008 as a Diva Bikini Pro. “After everything that has happened, to have the opportunity to come back is amazing.”
How She Trains
Contest prep is never easy, but now, with two kids, a personal training business and a post-baby body, it’s been more challenging than ever for Melissa. Luckily, her husband – who happens to be famed fitness personality Tony Little – set up a gym in their garage so she never has to miss a workout. “I’ve had to do more weight training to get back the muscle I’ve lost over the years, but I’ve enjoyed it. When people ask if I’ve had a tummy tuck, I can say, ‘No, I’ve worked hard.’”
One training technique has sculpted her upper body and tightened her physique more than ever. “I’m loving TRX,” she says. “I can do a full cardio-circuit workout in 30 minutes. It’s working smarter, not harder.”
Life With Tony
What’s it like being married to Tony Little? “He’s actually shy,” she says. “I’m louder than he is!” And while two fitness buffs under one roof can spur some friendly rivalry, their competitiveness pushes them to stay at the top of their games. “When I was training for the Oxygen shoot, he started training harder. When I see him getting leaner, I start eating those sweet potatoes too!”
Cover Girl Quick Facts
Weight: 123 lbs
Location: Tampa, FL
Biggest fear: “Scuba diving”
Article of clothing she craves: “Her True Religion jeans.”
Team she cheers for: “Green Bay Packers”
Product she can’t live without: “Mascara.”
Favorite travel destination: One&Only Ocean Club in Nassau, Bahamas (where she and Tony were married)
Mel’s Meal Plan
- Meal 1: 4 egg whites + ¾ cup oatmeal topped with 2 tsp PB and cinnamon
- Meal 2: 6 flaxseed crackers; protein shake made with ½ cup water + ½ cup unsweetened chocolate almond milk + 1 tsp PB
- Meal 3: 4 oz chicken breast + salad
- Meal 4: bun-less turkey burger with green peppers + onions; ¾ cup black beans
- Meal 5: 2 rice cakes + 1 tbsp PB
- Meal 6: 5 oz salmon + ¾ cup green beans with 2 tbsp slivered almonds
Melissa’s Quick Chinese Chicken Salad
Pressed for time? Shred some cold chicken from the fridge and mix up this satisfying salad in no time flat.
- 1–2 cups mixed greens
- 1 skinless chicken breast, shredded
- ¼ cup crispy rice noodles
- 1 tbsp. sunflower seeds
- ¼ cup dried, unsweetened cranberries
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette dressing
In a bowl, top greens with chicken, noodles, seeds and berries. Drizzle with dressing, toss and serve.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 390, Total Fats: 17 g, Saturated Fat: 2.5 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 70 mg, Sodium: 470 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 28 g, Dietary Fiber: 8 g, Sugars: 10 g, Protein: 31 g, Iron: 3 mg