Attitude is Everything: Fat chick at a Fitness Conference 2.0

I just just stuffed my backpack above me, and sank into my plane seat. I take a deep breath and close my eyes with relief. Im ready to head home and see my family.

I’m exhausted.



And definitely, hungover.

But I feel like I just won the lottery.

My heart is full.

My LIFE is full.

I look down at myself and and survey the scene:

Even though I’m still squeezed in close to my favorite travel teammate, I’m buckled into my chair with ease. It just keeps getting easier and easier for me to travel! I say a silent prayer of thanks, knowing how HARD this has all been for me before.

Walking down the isle of the plane, my sides no longer brush and bump the peoples arms, and it feels amazing to not have to apologize for my existence…walking that gauntlet of shame.

I’m wearing pajama pants, a Palm Springs conference tee, purple shoes, and my purple running man, manicured nails are clutching my purple water bottle and brand new copy of “Love Work” by Chuck Runyon. I notice my “persist” running man, flame tattoo on my wrist and wonder if I’ve not just stepped into overkill territory?

I’m a hot-AF-post-conference MESS!!!!! But, I LOVE IT.

You see, last year I struggled.

( You can read all about that here: )

Last year, I was still trying to be invisible. Despite my efforts, I was still battling with shame, discomfort and embarrassment with my body. And, If I’m being completely honest, not much has changed for me physically in a year. I’m down about 30 more pounds from the Lake Placid Conference. I’ve gained muscle and more endurance, but this time the weight I’m most proud of losing, was in my heart and mind.

This year I was was promoted to manager of my Anytime Fitness club, and I took that position of leadership VERY seriously. I have battled with that dark part of myself that felt fearful and unworthy. I finally surrendered to the fact that my value as a leader was NOT based on a certain number on the scale. If that were the case, I wouldn’t have been offered the position, right?

Being FAT is NOT the worst thing a person can be.

Your value and worth as a human is not worth less if you are fat. But being miserable, ashamed, depressed, suffering with pain and barely alive IS the WORST thing a person can be. And THAT is what has changed for me with the magic of fitness. THAT is what I LIVE to show the people who come into my gym everyday. The scale will move…but I must PERSIST.

My value is here NOW. It always HAS BEEN. I decided to OWN the fact that I am “representing a possibility”.

Ive decided to OWN the fact that I actually have an advantage with my size, and that WONT last forever.

I have the ability to say,” Look at me…I work HERE. I workout HERE. I was changed HERE. I found out who I truly am in HERE. I was welcomed and loved HERE…and so are YOU.”

It has been the most powerful year of my life. Realizing that all of the members in my gym, that I have the honor of representing, are looking to me as an example of persistence, and they are proud of me…that is enough to snap me out of any self doubt or sabotage.

There have been MANY struggles and setbacks…and times where my confidence and resolve was shaken, but there has been a permanent shift in me, and it SHOWED itself this week in Palm Springs.

No longer was I desperately trying to blend in and disappear. I just literally, let it all hang out, and allowed myself to just be MYSELF.

Proudly, alongside my team…my family… just like I am everyday in our clubs. Why would I want to come to conference and be anyone other that who I am everyday with my people?? If I’m constantly urging them to step outside of their comfort zone and believe in themselves…shouldn’t I be??!

Last year I was afraid to workout alongside 2,000 people for a world record breaking 3 minute workout. This year, I jumped into a live, 45 minute group session on the purple turf, in the middle of the trade show, with tons of people watching (and the AF corporate head trainer/she-hero herself, Rachel Prairie!) and did NOT CARE. I know what I am capable of.

This is it. This is who I am, and this is who has been given this amazing opportunity to live in the crazy fitness world and grind.

I TRULY was “hired to inspire” and I am so unbelievably grateful.

To my team, each and every one of you has made more of an impact on my life than you will ever know. You have made me one of you since DAY ONE and I am forever thankful for how you have changed my life and never let me give up. I’m so honored to live this life with you guys.

And, to Brandon and Amber Borden, my club owners, who just won the 2017 O2i of the Year Runningman Award…thank you.

Thank you for changing my life, and then taking a crazy risk in hiring me, believing in me and pushing me to be better and better and BETTER. I am so proud and honored to be on #teamborden and am SO EXCITED the whole AF world got to see/hear how amazing and special you two are. Also, I’m sorry I “Kanye-ed” you on stage. With all this new confidence…I do declare, I literally could not help myself. 😜

29 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sandy S
    Sep 19, 2017 @ 11:14:30

    This is AMAZING!! And I love your purple tutu , you rock it! So grateful for you and your life and testimony, keep it up!!


  2. Tammie Jennings
    Sep 19, 2017 @ 11:19:04

    Mandi Montecelli Holden!!!! I do declare, you make me so proud to have you as FAMILY!!!!! This just makes my heart sing. I love your heart your spirit and above all just YOU ❀️❀️. Thanks for making me cry this morning. You are the
    The living example of what positive thinking can do in ones life. I love, love, love seeing you shine!!


  3. fdincabo
    Sep 19, 2017 @ 12:53:10

    Hey Mandi it was an honor to meet you and Team Borden at conference this year. You guys and gals are Legendary and have inspired Team Ireland up here in WA State to step up our game and raise the bar of excellence. Keep doing what you’re doing and that’s changing the life of everyone you come in touch with. xo Mark
    ps…See you all in Louisville 2018!!


  4. Julie Bacigalupo
    Sep 19, 2017 @ 13:29:32

    Love this! You were also very good on stage (: Seriously LOVE your new tattoo.


  5. brent bernard
    Sep 19, 2017 @ 15:00:41


    I didn’t get to see you at conference to say hey but I was proud of you for being bold. I am enlightened by your optimism. Your advantage is real. You can speak to folks that many cannot speak to. People who may not be able to hear a trainer or H2i that looks like they have never had a bad food day in their life. You might give a sense of empathy in ways and in many in gym situations that some cannot. I see your determination and excitement and say “beautiful”. Thanks for the words of hope to many that they to might change their mind about what is possible.


  6. Erin E Vilardi
    Sep 19, 2017 @ 20:07:21

    You are beautiful! You are amazing! You inspire!


  7. Cindy Wagner
    Sep 20, 2017 @ 11:33:48

    You rocked conference! Keep it up and keep bleeding purple!


  8. Aja Williams
    Sep 20, 2017 @ 11:59:05

    Your energy was and is contagious! You inspire me!!


  9. Rick Graf
    Sep 20, 2017 @ 13:46:40

    Awesome! Just awesome!


  10. Nick Smith
    Sep 20, 2017 @ 18:57:16

    You are amazing!!! I am so happy I got to meet you and can’t wait to see what the future has in store for you. You are a true inspiration and an amazing role model for people everywhere. Keep doing you!!


    • mandimon
      Sep 21, 2017 @ 09:39:37

      Nick!!! Thank you so much!! I appreciate the love and encouragement! So glad we’ve met and follow each other in this crazy fitness life!! πŸ’œπŸ”₯


      • Nick Smith
        Sep 22, 2017 @ 03:29:30

        Your blog is awesome! You’re a great writer

      • mandimon
        Sep 22, 2017 @ 10:56:11

        Dude. πŸ™πŸΌπŸ™πŸΌπŸ™πŸΌ Thank you so much! It’s wild to have so many people reading my stuff right now. I appreciate it so much.

  11. Carissa Kennedy
    Sep 21, 2017 @ 19:07:39

    Mandi, I hope our paths cross is the future. Until then, keep working hard and being an inspiration in your club. The tattoo is authentic. It’s perfect. Thanks for sharing your story I can relate to so much of it. Persist girl!


  12. Shirlee-Ann (from Kamloops, BC Canada πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦)
    Sep 21, 2017 @ 20:25:45

    Mandi, I have followed your club’s post for a few months as we tried to find our way into the world of social media. I was so honoured to meet you at conference and felt such pride as I saw you workout on the purple turf and then later watched your own pride as your owners and teammates took to the stage to receive an obviously deserved award. Keep on being you. Wear your heart on your sleeve and live loud and proud. I look forward to next year and an opportunity to share stories of success with you.


    • mandimon
      Sep 22, 2017 @ 10:55:28

      SHIRLEE ANN!!! I LOVEDDDDD getting to meet you!!! It was kind of surreal meeting a social media friend in real life!!! I love this AF world that has brought me together with so many amazing people. Thank you for being YOU!! Can’t wait to see you next year!! πŸ˜˜πŸ’œπŸ”₯


  13. Luke Andrus
    Sep 22, 2017 @ 11:27:54

    THIS. IS. AWESOME. And so are you!!!!!! So glad you “Kanye’d” them so I could hear you speak! Such an inspiration Mandi!


    • mandimon
      Sep 22, 2017 @ 13:16:44

      Awwww!!! Thank you SO MUCH!! πŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸ’œIt’s crazy to me that y’all are all reading this. I appreciate the love and encouragement so much, it’s so awesome to be able to proclaim from the mountain top how awesome AF has been to me…and changed my life. Thank you!!! πŸ™πŸΌπŸ™πŸΌπŸ™πŸΌ


  14. Trackback: Fat Chick at a Fitness Conference: Third Time is a Charm | Mandimonologue

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