Melody Schoenfeld, vegan powerlifter
Success in powerlifting has given Melody Schoenfeld’s records at State and National level, and the petite American has shown enormous strength in kettlebell, old time strongman challenges and unusual challenges such as bar bending.
She has California state records for all three lifts (bench press, squat and deadlift), and in 2015 was awarded the USPA national record for bench, deadlift and total in the women’s 40-44 age category.
“I LOVE powerlifting, I definitely would say that the three Big Lifts are among my favorite things to do” she told us. “I adore pull-ups too, and do them often. Besides powerlifting, strongman stuff makes me happy - tearing cards and phone books, bending steel bars and horseshoes, rolling frying pans, that kind of thing.”
The hand and arm strength needed to roll frying pans and bend bars has left many impressed with Melody, who competes in the under 48kg category. Her lifts include a bench of 125 lbs (56.7 kg), a squat of 190 lbs ((86.2 kg) and a deadlift of 259 lbs (117.5kg, all unequipped).
Melody has been vegan since 2000. “I have been slowly heading that way since I was maybe 5" she told us. " I have always been a huge animal lover.”
As a small child she used to eat lobster until an incident when the lobster was brought to the table alive, which shocked her into not eating any more lobster. A few years later she saw meat hanging up when on a school trip. “I stopped eating beef and pork right then and there. One day in college, I realized I'd gone two months without chicken, and I hadn't even been trying. So I thought, well, OK, I can do that. Fish was the hardest for me, because I loved dim sum, but every time I ate fish, I felt like a horrible person.”
A relationship with a vegan led to some research at a stage when she had felt happy eating dairy and eggs. “I did my research, and that was enough to convince me. I've been happily vegan ever since!”
What does she eat?
“I eat a lot of everything! I love to cook. I eat a ridiculous amount of veggies of all kinds. I like to have lots of colours on my plate. I probably eat more veggies in one meal than most people eat in a week. I also make sure I have some kind of protein source at every meal-- seitan, tofu, tempeh, beans, whatever. I dig Field Roast and Beyond Meat products. I gave myself an air fryer for the holidays last year and I use that thing every day -- it makes amazing potatoes and tofu! I also make the world's best sourdough garlic bread.”
Travelling a lot has not caused problems. Finding meals based on vegetables, rice, bread, potatoes, and beans has been an easy way to eat on the move..
As a trainer, Melody has enabled people to reach their goals which have not always been fitness based – she has also enabled people to go vegan. “A lot of my clients have actually, completely on their own, either cut out a lot of meat or went vegetarian or vegan just because they see that it can be done easily and healthfully. A few have told me it was because they saw the pictures of what I cook on social media, too.”
Continuing to train in powerlifting, Melody focuses for a day per week on squat, bench, deadlift and overhead press. “When I'm not training my lifts, I'm usually either bending metal or tearing things up.” She also teaches kettlebells, mace (gada) and club swinging, and has been seen performing in an Iron Maiden tribute band.
“I've seen a big influx of women in powerlifting lately - that's exciting. It was almost unheard of for women to be in powerlifting not so long ago. I've also met a couple of other vegan powerlifters, which is really cool. But honestly, I'm in this sport because I love lifting, and I love the powerlifting community.”
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