Fat Chick at a Fitness Conference 

Last week I was on a once in a lifetime trip to New York for the annual Anytime Fitness conference.  

I say again, F-I-T-N-E-S-S conference. 

Never in my wildest daydreams would I have ever thought that this would be my life. And certainly people who’ve known me a long time would agree. It’s wild times for me, for sure. When I first started this blog in 2013 I was so lost. I had no ideas about where I was headed. All I knew is that I was in pain and writing helped. I knew I needed to change, but I did not know how or where to start.  
Fast forward to September 2016, and here is my view from the lodge I stayed at in Lake Placid…as a fitness professional.  

What do I want to say about my experience last week? 
How do I begin? Where do I start? 
Do I start with the amazing and surreal sights and sounds of my 24 hours in New York City, before we headed up state?  
Do I dig deep into my wanna-be-writer soul and try to describe how magical and soul stirring it was to be in the Olympic village at Lake Placid, where our conference was held? In the actual ice rink where the “miracle on ice” happened in 1980, one of the biggest sports upsets of all time?
Do I start with the intense gratitude I have for my boss’s, my team, my gym members, my friends, my family, my babies and my husband??? For everything everyone’s done to provide for me, inspire me, push me and encourage me to get to this awesome point in time of my life? 
No.
I’ll start with the REAL, less impressive, corners of my heart. That place deep down in the bellows of your guts that threatens to show up and ruin everything you’ve worked hard for with just a few seeds of doubt and shame. Yes, I’ll start there. Because it doesn’t matter where I’m at, or what I’m doing…when the mind starts traveling down that road of negative thinking, nothing else matters. And I know we’ve all been there. 

You see, I’m still fat. Forget that I’ve lost 111lbs. To people who don’t know me, I’m still obese. 288 pounds is still ALOT. And that’s the number I carried around with me, and stuffed into airplane seats and restaurant chairs and yoga workout pants while I was gone.  
My body is in this weird, middle earth realm of being smaller, stronger and more effiencient…but also (with weight still to lose) still big, and jiggly.  And with the weight loss I’ve had, I’m starting to have skin droop and sag. It’s just the way it is.  There’s no getting around that, I’d rather have that to deal with then where I was at before.  

I know it’s TMI, but I’m just keeping it real people. This is the real life account of my “extreme weight loss” and it’s not all unicorns and rainbows!! Some of this is really weird and hard and I understand now why it must take so long to truly transform!! It is a grueling process and the mind takes time to catch up with the changes of your body and vice versa.  

Ultimately, my goal is health and FEELING good, and be able to actively live my life.  So, the cosmetic stuff doesn’t really bother me.  Especially when I’m in my bubble where everyone knows me! 

Here at home, everyone at our gyms knows ME. They know my story.  They’ve seen me work out.  They know what I’m capable of, and I walk around with complete confidence in my leadership there.  That is why I was unprepared for how my insecurity would start to creep in and feel at our conference.  

Being in a group of hundreds (at least 1,000?) trainers and fitness professionals who didn’t know me left me feeling pretty vulnerable.  But I know better!!! I kept telling myself that this is what all of these people are passionate about! Not one person was rude to me or weird to me! The battle was all within my head.  Which leads me to my triumphant moment friends.  You knew there would be one! 

The Saturday afternoon before we left, there was a group workout planned so that we could attempt to break three world records. The records we attempted were the most people doing a simultaneous 1 minute plank, 1 minute of squats and 1 minute of jumping jacks.  The squats and the planks I was not worried about.  But I have NEVER done unmodofied jumping jacks becuase I can’t jump on my feet! The pounding is too hard and my body so heavy.  But, in order to qualify for the world record, each person has to do a perfect, unmodofied version of each exercise without stopping for the full minute.  

It was a conundrum.  

I DID NOT WANT TO DO THIS.  I was silently agonizing over having to do it.  Worried I would fail miserably.  Do I sit out? Do I let my team down and refuse to do this workout that will surely end in my shame and humiliation? Do I surrender to that nagging negative voice that had been pestering me the whole time we were there, saying you DONT BELONG HERE? 

Well first of all, my team wouldn’t have let me sit out so that wasn’t an option.  And secondly, I thought about all of my people!! All of my members at my gym at home who love me and whom I feel in some small way I represent.  I decided I’d try my best for THEM.  And so I did. And you know what? I was able to do all three.


LONGEST three minutes of my life, but I did it.  I could do it all along.  And in that three minutes it didn’t matter what my body looks like or all my dumb feelings…all I knew is that I had DONE THE THING.  

One of the best feelings of my life, I’ll never forget it.  I was so proud of myself for not surrending to that old mindset that would have robbed me of being a part of breaking world records with my team.  After the workout, the trainer who was leading us from up front ran down to the grass and created a huddle with us all around.  He yelled,”Do you feel that?! This is why we do what we do. It’s magical! It’s tangible!” And I broke down and finally cried.  

But, tears of joy! 

It doesn’t matter who knows what about me.  I know how far I’ve come and am excited about where I’m going.  And it’s been announced that next years conference is in Palm Springs. 🙂 

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26 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jack
    Sep 14, 2016 @ 08:10:42

    You are the best Mandi. Lizzy and I love you with all our hearts and could not ask for a better friend. We are so greatful you came into our lives and we will always be there for you.

    Love ya!

    Reply

  2. Tammie
    Sep 14, 2016 @ 12:01:12

    My Beautiful Cousin, your are my hero and my inspiration. You are now and have always been beautiful to me!! I love experiencing your journey with you. I pray that one day God will grace me with just half of your dedication, your can do attitude and bravery.

    Reply

  3. Bethany
    Sep 14, 2016 @ 13:38:06

    Loved this Mandi! ❤

    Reply

  4. Susi
    Sep 14, 2016 @ 16:26:18

    Ok, I have to say I broke down in tears reading this.. I think a lot of people can relate to you and your feelings. You were so brave and grew stronger because of the whole experience.. I am so happy and proud of you Mandi.. Your progress is showing.. ❤️😎💪🏼👍🏼

    Reply

  5. Ashley Norman
    Sep 14, 2016 @ 19:25:04

    Hey girl! I was glued to reading this and am so proud of you and think you are amazing for your courage in this journey and for sharing it! I learn this too in many ways that we can always do more than we think we can. You inspire me!!

    Much love!
    Ashley

    Reply

    • mandimon
      Sep 14, 2016 @ 19:29:42

      Ashley!!! Thank you so much friend. I know that my story isn’t particularly unique…but something awesome happens when we tell the truth about hard things. Thank you for the support!

      Reply

  6. Rachel koester
    Sep 15, 2016 @ 13:28:09

    That’s MY Gym Boo Soul Sista! ❤

    Reply

  7. Jody johnson
    Sep 15, 2016 @ 19:00:07

    I don’t break out into tears much, but this had me there. Such a good read. I love the fact that you tell it all. Good, bad and ugly always keeping it real. Very inspiring!!

    Reply

    • mandimon
      Sep 15, 2016 @ 19:27:39

      Jody! Thank you so much!! I really appreciate everyone who takes the time to read my story. It’s not unique, I know lots of people have the same dark moments…but I have found that just owning it and telling the truth about stuff is powerful. Thanks again! 🙏🏼

      Reply

  8. CR
    Sep 16, 2016 @ 10:13:48

    Love your courage, determination and mindset. You understand that “getting to a healthier place” isn’t about what the scale says. Keep pursuing the very best definition of yourself and inspire others along the way. See you in Palm Springs. #Bleedpurple you World Record holder!!

    Reply

  9. Sandy S
    Sep 16, 2016 @ 13:58:43

    Amazing what you have accomplished! We will start a Go Fund Me page when you are ready for that skin surgery😊
    Keep on hanging in there.

    Reply

  10. Carmen
    Sep 16, 2016 @ 17:49:20

    You were right in front of us helping us set a world record and you were beautiful and amazing! Feel free to friend me on Facebook as I am on a journey too…good luck to you! Carmen Buckmeier Minot, ND

    Reply

  11. Stacy
    Sep 17, 2016 @ 17:41:47

    You, my dear, are an inspiration!!

    Reply

  12. Marianna
    Sep 18, 2016 @ 00:34:38

    Every blog you write fills my heart with emotion and leaves me overwhelmed with admiration. Mandi, I am so thrilled that you continue to discover the amazing woman God has created in you. Thank you for “keeping it real” and inspiring all of us to break through the barriers that crush us. You are awesome!!!

    Reply

  13. Sara Jespersen
    Sep 19, 2016 @ 10:48:42

    Mandi – what a powerful read. I love how you keep it real. I wish I would have met you at the conference. Your attitude is beautiful and so are you. Love the purple tutu, love the sassy pose, and love how strong you are!

    Reply

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