Restroom of Reverence 

The day I signed up for my gym membership I couldn’t get back in my car and drive away fast enough. I actually told the woman behind the desk (who has since become a dear friend) to hurry, before I changed my mind! I knew the next day would be the real test…to actually come into the gym with the intention to exercise.  
The next morning, I went back and forth between groaning with fear or yelling affirmations at myself while driving in my truck, in an attempt to get hyped enough to actually go inside. My plan was to walk for 30 minutes on the treadmill. That would be easy enough, right? I’ve walked longer than that at Disneyland, this would be an easy way to start. I can do 30 minutes! 

I walked for ALMOST 11 minutes.  

At a 2.0 mph pace, it was agony. My feet were swollen and felt heavy. My shirt kept riding up my belly and I was tugging it down and wrangling with it every 15 seconds, making me wildly agitated and self-conscious. My chest burned immediately from the activity, 395 pounds pounding down with each step took its toll. In that moment, I was faced with the reality of what I had let myself become and how HARD this was actually going to be. I was already winded, sweaty and beet red.
Those eleven minutes felt like an eternity.  
I pushed the “pause” button on the treadmill and let it slow to a stop. As calmly and casually as I could, I walked over to the restroom and couldn’t wait to hide behind the sanctuary of the closed and locked door (we have private bathrooms/showers at my gym). I sank down onto the bench against the wall and burst into tears while pulling out my phone to call my husband at work.  
“Hello?” He answered. 
“Omg. Babe. I cannot do this. What have I done? I’m so embarrassed. I only did 10 minutes, I hurt so bad…I don’t belong here…I don’t know what I was thinking………” 
He listened to me, and let me cry. Let me spiral. Then he responded with tenderness and encouragement, and kept reminding me over and over that I HAD to start somewhere. He was proud of me for going. Tomorrow I should try to add one more minute. I did awesome. He would see me after work. He loved me. I had calmed down and caught my breath enough to say goodbye. I loved him too. Thanked him for believing in me. Hung up the phone and wiped my face. Took a few deep breaths to gather the courage I’d need to walk out of that bathroom and through the gym to get to my truck. 

Today I cleaned that same bathroom as an employee of Anytime Fitness. 

 I am honored to report that after a year and a half of dedication to my workouts, falling in love with the staff and trainers of my gym, being allowed to start and lead a support group to empower myself and other members on similar journeys, I have been officially hired, part time, as a part of the team. 
This first week has been all about training and those “first week” things that you typically learn when you start a new job, like the cleaning procedures. But my experience as I cleaned that bathroom today was not typical.  
It was…almost…holy.
I was in absolute awe of how far I’ve come since that first eleven minutes on the treadmill. I just stopped and thanked God. Gratitude is all I have. As I sit here writing this I can’t even gather the words. It would sound redundant anyway. I’ve said it hundreds of times, I’ve lost weight, but I have gained the world. And I still have an uncharted journey ahead! 

My life has changed this week. My family’s life has changed. In the state I was in before, I could not even be considered for a job. This is a new chapter. I am beyond thrilled and excited for what it will bring. I am honored to be joining a team of people who truly care about impacting and changing people’s lives. I look forward to someday sitting across the desk from someone who is scared to death to sign up and take that first step toward new life, and tell them my story.  
In the meantime, while I’m cleaning bathrooms, it won’t be lost on me what a sacred space they are.  

A private refuge where some come face to face with themselves, for the first time like I did. Taking a moment to catch their breath or battle doubts and limitations…maybe even crying, then gathering the courage and determination to go back out and finish. I know it sounds lame, but I’m convinced that I’m not the only person who has let themselves unravel behind those doors. It’s a sacred place in there.

Moral of the story? NEVER GIVE UP.   
To those of you who’ve been reading along on my blog and following my journey this long…thank you from the bottom of my heart. The support and accountability this has been for me is priceless.  


20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Diane Disney
    Dec 04, 2015 @ 06:31:05

    What a journey you’ve had. You have come such a long way and you ate an inspiration to all who know you. Keep up the good work. I’m so proud of you.


  2. George P.
    Dec 04, 2015 @ 07:15:18

    As an owner of an anytime Fitness, I can tell you that your journey is why I love being in this business. You are truly inspirational by your example, and a very talented writer, I might add. Keep up the great job you are doing for yourself and so many others! George P. in Maryland.


  3. Sarah Verness
    Dec 04, 2015 @ 07:53:38

    I am so proud of all the accomplishments you have made. I have gotten the beautiful privilege of watching your smile turn into a true smile and that is just so wonderful to see. You are a real life inspiration to me and have given me courage to get on the ball with my own health goals. Thanks for always sharing! Love you!


  4. Sandy S
    Dec 04, 2015 @ 08:22:44

    I love this… Holy. Now on to the next step in your journey!


  5. Kris Thompson
    Dec 04, 2015 @ 11:12:28

    Hi there! I’m a friend of Rachel and Brandon and had briefly met you at Rachel’s birthday outing. 😊 I saw Brandon’s Facebook post of your blog and read it, your story is so inspiring and I’m glad you stuck with it, all of you guys are very lucky to have each other and work in an industry where you truly are impacting lives such as your own. So keep up the amazing work and congratulations!


  6. Yvens
    Dec 06, 2015 @ 16:26:34

    Keep on pushing Mandy! I am watching you :p

    It’s a battle of attrition and you went through the first tough part.

    Your IG friend – Yvens


  7. Yvonne
    Dec 08, 2015 @ 15:01:48

    Can you share what your total weight loss is, in a year and a half


    • mandimon
      Dec 08, 2015 @ 18:34:12

      Absolutely!!! I have kept off exactly 78 pounds, though it has been as much as 85 lost…but I’ve been fluctuating between the same 10 pounds for the past month so I don’t like to claim it until it’s “true”. I get weighed every 6-8 weeks on a body fat analysis scale which is really cool, it shows me how many pounds of muscle I’ve gained, as well as fat lost. The last time I was there I had lost 7 pounds and it showed I had gained 3 pounds of muscle within a 6 week period. I love that!! Sometimes it can be so unnerving not seeing the scale move like you want it to, but when you realize how much is going on, it’s easy to focus more on non-scale victories rather than just the scale number.


  8. Sandy Keirstead
    Jan 07, 2016 @ 15:17:41

    My Story is similar to yours, i have worked as an H2i for 2 years. I was hired when I was in the middle of my weight loss journey, at 186lbs, I started at 250lbs. 2 years of inspiring others & them inspiring me. I’m at 148lbs and see my goal in site. You are going to love being at AF in your new role, I’m excited everyday to walk through the door!!! Be Well, Sandy Keirstead H2i , Medway, Ma


  9. Brent
    Jan 07, 2016 @ 18:15:55

    Welcome to the family! After my first month I knew I bled purple. I have ran 3 different health club chains, but none of them gave the feeling of team and family!! I can’t wait to follow your experience.


    • mandimon
      Jan 07, 2016 @ 18:56:26

      Brent! Thank you!!! I love it so much. Our owners are pure gold. I am so so lucky to be a part of this team. Thank you SO much for the encouragement!


  10. Mark Daly
    Jan 11, 2016 @ 09:38:24

    Hello Mandimon — I’m the PR director for Anytime Fitness corporate and I love your story. Please email me. I’d like to learn more about you.


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