Manuka Life’s #inspiringwomen: Melanie Sykes


Melanie Sykes is one of our favourite inspiring women, so much so that we’ve asked her to be the ambassador for Autumn/Winter. We love that she’s a working mum who campaigns for Autism awareness, advocates a healthy lifestyle and is incredibly down to earth. Whilst in the studio shooting for The Midas Collection we caught up with Melanie to ask her our big five.

Q: How many times do you aim to exercise per week/how many times do you actually exercise and what is you favourite exercise to do?

Ideally I would love to do some sort of exercise 6 times a week with a day of rest but obviously that is not really achievable unless I am on holiday. At home there are other commitments to deal with.

That said I do exercise between 3-5 times a week. I do weights, cardio (the crosstrainer machine which has the movement of skating or skiing is my favourite thing) I go to Heartcore Pilates studios to do Reformer Pilates and I also do barre classes too. I do a bit of boxing for cardio too. I like to mix things up and keep it interesting.

Q: What food can you not live without?

I’m a big fan of eggs mainly using whites for scrambles or omelettes. I use coconut oil for cooking, I’m an absolute convert. My favourite healthy dish to make is thai turkey burgers, (turkey mince, ginger, chilli, coriander, peppers, garlic, fish sauce, onions) delicious, spicy and super healthy.
I could not live without bacon or cashew nuts, I am a monster for both.

Q: Which three women inspire you?

Madonna – I have such a lot of respect for this lady. She has survived a fickle business for decades. She has a tenacity that is admirable. She has been dragged through the mill by the press over the years regarding her strong sexuality and ridiculed for her life choices but she is a survivor and has no shame about who she is. I’m not a massive fan of her music (although I do love this last album) but I admire her so much. She is doing a world tour at the moment and I have been following her progress on Instagram. Her pictures are a daily reminder to me that you can be super fit and possess great stamina into your fifties and that is impressive and something to aspire to and applaud.

Malala Yousafzai – I recently watched the film ‘He Called Me Malala’ with my eldest boy. It started as an exercise to show him how other children live and the fears they face, I had no idea how much of an impact it had on me. What an amazing young woman Malala is. Standing up for the rights of girls to be educated and to openly oppose the Taliban takes a fire and belief that is God-given and truly inspiring. She is making a difference in this world when some things seem hopeless.

Angelina Jolie – I am a huge fan of this woman. That kind of beauty can be a great hindrance to some women but not her. She is a brilliant actress, a film maker, humanitarian and mother of 6 children. Her latest movie “By the Sea” she wrote, directed and starred in. She has been a trailblazer and taken some brave choices for the sake of her health and has a staggering resilience to judgement and jealousy when she has been vilified in the press. I love how private she is, only using her celebrity for the greater good and with such grace.

Q: What one thing are you most proud of doing?

I recently spoke at The Autism Show about my experiences with my autistic son, Valentino in front of a big crowd. Not only did I get over a massive fear of public speaking, which believe me was huge, I was able to help people with similar experiences to mine. There was a queue of people wanting to talk to me afterwards not only to thank me but also to give me advice. It was a mutually gratifying experience that I will never forget. The audio for the talk is on YouTube, available here.

Q: What are your favourite three things about yourself?

Physically – I think my favourite thing is my high cheek bones, inherited from the Anglo-Indian side of my family, I’m very proud of my roots being a mix of English, Anglo-Indian and Portuguese.

Emotionally – I have a huge capacity to love and be loved. I can not hold anger for long and can forgive and get over hurts well. This comes naturally to me and I have no idea why.

Mentally – I am a very headstrong person, if I put my mind to something I can do it. I have good will power and an ability to push myself especially when things scare me.

Check out Melanie Sykes’ brand new website here where she recently interviewed our Creative Director, Sarah Mac.