The 2023 SI Swimsuit rookie says she’s found clarity in her sobriety.
A certified health and wellness coach, fitness entrepreneur, podcast host, wife and mother, Melissa Wood-Tepperberg has a lot on her plate these days—especially because she’s also now a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model.
Wood-Tepperberg will make her debut in the 2023 SI Swimsuit Issue later this spring. She recently worked with photographer Yu Tsai in Dominica, where she chatted about the lifelong journey that led to her rookie photo shoot. During the conversation, she candidly opened up about her experience living alcohol free in hopes of helping others.
How meditation led Wood-Tepperberg to an alcohol-free lifestyle
Wood-Tepperberg credits her meditation practice for her sobriety, saying she made the choice to live alcohol free Nov. 4, 2019.
“Leading up to that date, every single time I would meditate, I would just have this very clear feeling of, Get clear, get really clear so that you can be prepared for what’s to come,” she says. “The message was vivid; it just kept coming over me, and I always say that cultivating a meditation practice, you hear things, you hear the signs, you see the signs. And it really gives you the ability to follow through and to listen to the signs, because you can’t not listen; it’s too loud.”
Wood-Tepperberg paid attention to that voice in her head. She decided to experiment by going 30 days without consuming alcohol, and when she launched her app, Melissa Wood Health (MWH), the following month, she felt better than ever.
Launching her fitness app
Wood-Tepperberg says she loved the way she started feeling when she stopped consuming alcohol, noting that drinking just one or two cocktails in the evening would cause her to wake up irritable and anxious the next morning.
“I felt so grounded in myself in a way that I had never experienced before, and I just kept going with it,” she says.
Wood-Tepperberg’s platform MWH makes mindful health and wellness attainable and accessible to all. Her app is packed with more than 500 workouts and meditations, all of which are designed to help users transform themselves from the inside out.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020 shortly after her app’s release, Wood-Tepperberg says she was in a very centered place in her own life. She recognized a silver lining in the fact that she could help others, especially with her renewed clarity.
“I really feel the most me that I’ve ever felt in my life, and it’s just made me realize at this point I feel really good not having alcohol. I also think it’s really important for me to say that maybe tomorrow I’ll decide I want a drink, and there’s no judgment either way,” she says. “It’s just about getting clear with you, like what are the things that you come back to daily that make you feel better, that make you show up in a bigger way, that make you feel more connected and tapped into your joy.”
Embracing personal choices
Wood-Tepperberg says she loves the increasing popularity of living an alcohol-free lifestyle and the lack of judgment from others for being sober.
“There is such a movement around living an alcohol-free lifestyle, and I love it because there are so many other things out there now, thankfully, that you can have that give you a nice little vibe,” she says, noting that Kin Euphorics and Seedlip are two of her favorite mocktails. She takes both with club soda, lemon and lime.
She says we should all stand firm in our lifestyle choices and be ourselves, because those who love and respect us will embrace us either way.
“I think it’s important to stand really confidently in yourself and your decisions, and people who are not accepting of those decisions are people that you might really want to reevaluate [having] in your life,” Wood-Tepperberg says.
Meet Melissa Wood-Tepperberg—read the 2023 SI Swimsuit rookie’s full feature profile here.