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.

Sunburned.

Dehydrated.

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: https://mandimonblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/fat-chick-at-a-fitness-conference/ )

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. 😜

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Super Powers and Force Fields

Dear person who walked by me today at the outdoor mall…while I was killing time with my kids before we went to see Captain Underpants, 

I wonder what it was you noticed first?

The mole on my face? 
Or was it how my fat rolls/skin hangs down low in my front now that I’ve lost a big chunk of weight? I jokingly call it my front-butt, but I am FULLY aware that it’s the first thing people see when they look at me.  
Were you offended that I had the audacity to be wearing leggings? 
I saw you look me up and down and lean in to whisper something to your girlfriend as we passed each other. Out of decades of practice, I quietly stopped, turned around and waited for a moment. Sure enough, she turned around to “see” whatever it was you must’ve pointed out about my appearance that was too good to miss, but she locked eyes with me instead.  She was so startled when she saw me waiting to catch her in the act, she didn’t even try to casually turn around. She knew she was busted, and picked up the pace to get away from me. 

 It’s my favorite thing to do now. Stop and stare you right back in the face.  

I turned and kept walking.  
Watching my two kids just steps ahead of me, trying to balance on the edge of the planters, being normal kids. Excited to be on an outing. Un-phased that any kind of micro-bummer-social-event had ever happened.  

I let the sting of it, roll over me and dissipate into the air like a vapor…as I’ve learned to do.  
But it happens. It happens constantly. 
ALL. THE. TIME.  

Anyone who is overweight KNOWS that this is real.  These tiny social stabs that happen constantly out in public.  The exact REASON we are terrified to join gyms…let alone be vulnerable enough to move around and excercise in front of anyone!!
 Despite loved ones insisting we are just paranoid, and no one is looking or whispering about you…they are.  
We know. 

Dear guy about 30 minutes later,  who tried to push his friend “Anthony” over a stair railing to bump into me “accidentally”.  

You were laughing and yelling, “this is Anthony! He’s single, can he have your number?” as I was playfully racing my kids, who had challenged me to run up to the top of the stairs. 

 “Anthony” scrambled to maneuver away from me as quickly as possible, obviously uncomfortable and embarrassed at his friends “light hearted joke”. He just looked at me sheepishly and said,” I’m so sorry!” 

This is actually a pretty common move with groups of dudes when I’m out in public without my husband, so sadly I’m used to ignoring it.  I actually ended up feeling bad for Anthony, who had the balls to face me and apologize, so I just nodded and kept running up the stairs to meet my babies who had already beaten me up there.  
“We beat you mom!!” they laughed triumphantly, while I stopped to catch my breath. “DANG IT!!” I yelled as I smiled big and high fived them both.  They didn’t see what happened, they were just having fun with their mom who can actually DO stuff like that with them now.  

But you and Anthony don’t know that.  

You don’t know who I am, or how far I’ve come.  

You have no concept of my accomplishments.  

You have zero understanding of my ability or power. 
SUPER. POWERS.

My FORCE FEILD of genuine confidence that I HAVE EARNED. 
It protects me.  It tells the TRUTH of who I really am.  I wear it like a belt.  

You have no clue that you cannot hurt me anymore with your judgments. 
You see, I have earned this loose, jiggly skin.
I have earned the right to wear leggings! 
I no longer freeze up with social anxiety, and try to make myself as invisible as humanly possible, to somehow take away the pain and shame of merely existing.

You have NO IDEA that my heart beats LOUDLY with pride and passion for this new life that I get to live! 

Today, I want to THANK YOU.  
Yes.

Thank you, man with nervous girlfriend and random guy with Anthony…
Thank you for reminding me (again!) what it feels like to be/look different in this culture we have.   May I NEVER forget the sting of it…and forget how scary and intimidating it can feel to try and step out into a world that will not easily allow you to love yourself. 
 

May I allow this feeling of strength inside me to ROAR greater than the snickers and whispers of idiots, so that I can continue to “blaze the trail” ahead of me so that others like me, can follow and find their superpowers too.  


When I hear the term ‘blaze a trail’ I tend to imagine someone forging ahead with a torch of burning fire and vigor, leaving a smoldering trail in their wake, which is AWESOME and gets me FIRED UP.  

However, I learned that is actually not what the original term meant when it was first “coined”.  

“A blaze is a notch or mark, like the blaze marks seen on horses’ faces. So, ‘to blaze a trail’ was to mark it out by notching trees so that others could follow. Trees are also often marked this way to single them out for felling. The use of blaze to mean the chipping off of a small piece of bark to mark a path or boundary is American in origin.” -The Phrase Finder 

Which means that while it does seem WAY more fun and valiant to talk of torches and smoldering fire blazes, super powers and epic force fields…the reality is that each time this happens, and it feels like someone has just come by and taken a chunk or chip from the bark of my heart, it is not in vain.

I have been marked. 

But it WILL mark a path for others to follow.  

That pain used to derail me for weeks…shake my confidence, send me into eating binges and spirals of self-doubt. 
 But not anymore.  
That pain is not wasted.  

That pain paves a way to the possibility that you can overcome ANYTHING.  

Please do NOT let the fear of pain or shame keep you from discovering who you truly are!!! 

People HAVE NO IDEA.

YOU will have no idea, unless you push through and find out.

 I didn’t. I’m still finding out every damn day.  

KEEP PUSHING.  

And to think I actually wanted to go see Wonder Woman instead of Captain Underpants?! I don’t think I need to. 😉😜

Heavy Hearted 


This comparison stopped me in my tracks yesterday, and I was saving it for #facetofacefriday on Instagram. Same picture with my beautiful cousin Maria and I…but with a three year difference and what feels like an emotional lifetime apart.

I was excited about this because rarely do I physically get to see the BIG, “100lbs lost” kinds of changes (since I see my dang self every dang day and I still have some dang weight to lose!!) but this NSV was pretty cool for me! The picture taken in 2013 was just after our family reunion that a bunch of us cousins had worked hard on for months to pull together for our huge, Italian family. It was a big deal! There were about 75 people in attendance. As excited as I was to be a part of such a wonderful family event, deep inside my heart I was mortified that all of my family members were seeing me HUGE and out of control and easily around (or slightly over) 400 pounds. 

Even though I hated having my picture taken, I posed happily with my cousin Maria in my living room as we said goodbye…not knowing when we would get the opportunity again.  

This last weekend we did! 
My whole family threw my dad a surprise 60th birthday party, and when the weekend visits and festivities were all said and done, I found myself once again in my living room saying goodbye to my cousin and her family. We took almost the same exact picture and I was curious to see the difference between the two. I dug through the archives of social media and there it was! I was so blessed to see such evidence of change in my face, and more importantly to KNOW how much my life has changed since 2013. I couldn’t wait to make a side by side to post and share the progress with you, my online “fitfam”! 

And yet today…I’ve struggled to post it. Who cares about my “face to face Friday” pic?!  With all of the bad news on the news every single day…it’s hard to imagine any of this matters.  

I’ve not wanted to be disrespectful of current events by going along with my life as if everything is ok, and act like my weight loss pictures are important.  

Nothing is ok.  

The world has gone mad.  

I was awake most of the night, restless.  

Thinking about everything on the news. Like everyone else, I’m sure. 

Awake with fear and wrestling with all the unknowns. Alert with grief for ALL of the families laying awake out there in the world with shattered hearts. Worried about what might be coming up around the next corner for us all. 

Minnesota, Louisiana, Georgia…and still the aftermath settling in Orlando, Florida. And now, what’s unfolded in Dallas, Texas? I imagine so many more people than I can imagine laid wide awake last night.  

With shattered hearts and numbing disbelief. Living a nightmare.  

Loved ones ripped away from their lives and loved ones with violence.  

I know everyone has something to “say” about this today. Everyone is making “statements” about how they feel, and I guess this is mine, and that in some way pouring out our hearts and thoughts out here is ALL we can do right now to somehow try to connect and comprehend what’s happening? I don’t know. 
There’s no way I can possibly understand the depth of the despair and fear that is growing out there. It has only grazed my life from a safe distance each time I watch the news or scroll through my social media feeds…but it is enough to make me shutter and want to board up my family in our house and never come out again.  

I’m sure that’s how a lot of people feel this morning.  

Weary and wary of other people.  

There’s a heaviness laying right on top of all of us, in every city, as we try to go about our day today.  
It’s almost enough to make you wanna give up hope…but my faith (in God who is the ultimate source of perfect LOVE) showed up in my life today in a thousand different tiny ways and restored, at least for a moment, a tiny glimmer of hope that gave me peace.

Love showed up when I kissed my husband goodbye early this morning and was reminded that I still get one more day with the guy. 
Love showed up when I got up to get my day going and realized that our automatic deposits went through over night, and we are able to pay our bills and feed our kids. Always providing for every need. 
Love showed up when I went to my gym to workout and people were still sincerely smiling at me and wishing me a good morning, despite the sadness we were all feeling.  
Love showed up in multiple, beautifully and thoughtfully written posts from friends, standing firm in love and brotherhood regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or political affiliations. 
Love is everywhere if you stop and look for it. Even in a random little weight loss post. That’s what I’m choosing to look for today. And so, I’m going to share my “#facetofacefriday” post in name of love, because this is my corner of the world and I’m going to try and live it to the fullest while I still can.

I LOVE my life, however long I’ll get to live it, and this picture shows how hard I’ve worked to say that and really mean it. 

In the tiniest way, I hope that putting this out here in the world counteracts some of the negative…as we sift through all this bad news. May God have mercy and lead us all in a better way.  

Insomnia 

Mother’s Day this last weekend has left me feeling some feelings.  
Heavy feelings.  
Deep thoughts.  
If you’re not in the mood for some ponderous musings and reflection, move along. Im sorry to be the one to tell you this, but I’m not ALWAYS the, 100% gym rat/beast mode babe, slaying workouts and personal goals, striving for justice and equality amongst all the fitness levels and body types across the land, urging women of all ages to love themselves and promote genuine confidence all day long, chick.  
At times I have been known to be a very sensitive, and poetic Sally…and sometimes I must emote. So, turn on your Mumford and Sons Spotify station and enjoy this ride.  

There’s been LOTS going on for us, which is true for everyone it seems.  Adjusting to life as a full time working mom has been fun and thrilling, but also a huge adjustment for all of us. 
 And on Mothers Day, I found myself thinking about how rapidly my kids are growing, and how I’m running out of time to get it right for them. Knowing a thing and doing a thing are drastically different, and there’s always so much to DO.  I made the mistake of looking at their baby pictures and it sliced me open with nowhere to hide but here, in my words and sentences that always seem to somehow bring healing. 

Tonight, I find myself alone in my house with a soundly sleeping hubby, kids, and lazy dog. The washing machine is working away on dirty towels. No tv or music. Just an open window in my bedroom as I stare into the glow of my phone and type to clear my busy mind.  

This is one of my favorite times of year…when I can crack a window open at night and hear the sound of all the frogs by the little pond, way out beyond the houses in my neighborhood. I look forward to hearing them, as a reminder that warmer weather is on its way here again.  
I feel peaceful now, and weirdly emotional because I know that I haven’t sat down alone to write in so long, that I’m actually afraid of what might come through.  I had a friend at the gym ask me why I haven’t done a blog post in awhile, and I had to really think about it?  My life is FULL, and I have no complaints, but sometimes little crap builds up and makes your heart heavy. And when the mood strikes me to write it out, I’ve learned to surrender to it because telling the truth always sets you free.  

So here it is.  

I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships lately.  
How your whole life is just traveling from the most current cluster of people in a moment in time to the next.  

Family, friends and acquaintances. Weaving in and out, overlapping. Mingling and vanishing. Reunited, reminiscing, disappearing. Sometimes reappearing…sometimes forgotten completely. People leaving impressions, memories and scars. Influencing and cautioning. Defending and betraying. Trust and disbelief. Loving and hating. Leaving and staying. Messy. Complicated. Devastated. Loyal. Devoted. Powerful.  

Relationships are everything.  

Lately, I have seen close friendships all around me, whom were thought to be foundational, split and fracture over technicalities. I’m so disappointed in the way we all proclaim to love, but when it’s tested we freeze up, and break off.  

Cold, iced conversations and miscommunications in rooms and across tables, where life was once shared together. But continue to pretend to be friends online? Why? 

Hardened.

Winter.

Lately, I have watched siblings step into being adults and pull away to build their own lives and stories that don’t include me. It’s selfish I know. Bittersweet, to watch something grow on its own that doesn’t require any pruning or help from you anymore. Little shoots of life and strength sprouting up, and thriving in the sunshine…NEED ROOM to grow. 

So I’m learning to let go. 

Spring.

Lately, I have been surprised and energized by the new relationships in my life. New people everywhere! New job, new surroundings, new routines, new jokes, new perspectives, new goals, new encouragement. New experiences. Fresh chances. Fresh opinions. Fresh AIR. Giving me opportunities, life and HOPE.  

It’s been amazing and I want it to stay this way forever. 

Summer.

Lately, I have been anchored by what HOME really means. My children, showered and jammied will sometimes still let me smell them and kiss them in exchange for a few more minutes before bed. They are growing into real people, but for these little moments they are still my littles…wrapped in blankets. My husband, the only person to VOW to stay by my side, and he has. He is faithful. He is constant. Cozy and comforting. Safe and warm. My one true love. My fruitful harvest. 

Fall.

And if you blink, the season spent with people has changed.  

This compels me to STOP and breathe in every moment.  

Take NO person I love for granted, despite disagreements.  

Be in each moment, with no distractions. 

Give my full attention and respect. 

Do my best to fully live the life I’m supposed to live.  

And LOVE people even when they are unloveable.  

If you have been in my life throughout different seasons, I thank you. I know time does not permit for all the people I have loved to exist all at once, in the same time and space, but I am grateful for each of you. 

Practice What You Preach 

I want to wake up on time. 

The first time my alarm goes off, because I’m just THAT ambitious. 

Not on the ninth snooze. 

I want fresh hot coffee, a warm blanket, and plenty of time to spend in prayer/meditation and journaling before my day begins. Being a woman who is intentional about my thoughts and emotions…and THEN conquering my days responsibilities as an active and healthy working woman, running an orderly and efficient home.  

I want to set a positive tone for my kids and husband’s day and be present and emotionally available to them.  

I want to continue to prioritize the right time to workout and conquer my fitness goals and continue to watch my body change and grow stronger, while also eating food that makes me feel awesome and alive, not heavy and full of guilt.   

I want to continue to grow into my new position at my job with the same fiery passion burning in my heart everyday, that continually builds such a feeling of satisfaction and gratitude of being a part of changing people’s lives, that I CANT WAIT to get back there everyday.  

While somehow creating a sanctuary for my family to come home to, where dinner is planned, prepped and ready. Where laundry is kept up, and everyone knows where their socks and underwear are. Where the homework folders are not lost, but completed and signed and in the backpacks for the next day. Where everyone reads for a leisurely 20 minutes before bed without fighting. Where the sleep we get is deep and restorative because we aren’t worried about finances and repairs, and conflicts with people and obligations and burdens because we are—

Wait.  

Yep.

I basically want to BE Oprah. 

Okay, okay, this is NOT quite my daily reality just yet, but these are truly my personal goals, and adjusting to being a working mom recently, has not come without its wrinkles to iron out. All of my friends who have been working moms this whole time?!?! 

I SALUTE YOU.  

I am lucky and blessed to report that my children are champions and are stepping up to their responsibilities with great effort. I’m so proud of them, and they seem to be really proud of their mom having a job too, which is pretty cool. As well as my husband, who is blowing my mind with his constant support and additional help around our house. He is my biggest fan and am so lucky to have him spurring me on to reach for my goals. 

That being said…this journey is still SO HARD.  It’s hard to not get stuck in my head, with old negative thinking.  Even after a year and half of dedicated exercise and mindful eating, it’s hard to keep focused.   And it will continue to be hard. Because I’m not going back to “easy”.  

THIS is the exact reason I started the support group at our gym, because to stay this course, you need support.  I’m not some chick who has this all figured out!! NO WAY!! I am practicing what I’m preaching, striving to hold onto everything I’m learning, just like everyone else.  We are in this thing together! And I’m glad, without you I would have quit! Lol. 

THIS IS NOT EASY. 

So many women who try to make a healthy change in their lives, get overwhelmed and give up, because somedays you’re just out here trying to survive. Driving little people around to where they need to be, trying to make everything happen for everyone else leaves little time to put toward bettering and being good to yourself. And honestly, most days there’s nothing left over and “easy” is all we’re interested in. I get it! 
But “easy” is a lie. It robbed me of knowing all that I was capable of for a long time. This path I’m on is hard, and some days it feels like it’s all in vain and pointless…but I know it’s not. I am stronger. I see changes. I feel ALIVE. It is absolutely worth it.  
It’s EASY to set ourselves off to the side, especially when life gets crazy, 

But we are worth MORE than what comes easy!! 

So, here’s to all of you lady beasts out there, making it ALL happen in your lives. Doing the hard work, keeping your commitment to yourself, getting back on track after you fall, pushing through even when it hurts, waking up to the first morning alarm…all so that you can be the best version of you you can be, for the people who love and count on you.  

  

 

 

Greatness awaits!

Came across this post and thought it was worthy of a re-post. 72 pounds lighter, but THIS is still the prayer and cry of my heart. May we learn to be kind to each other and ESPECIALLY ourselves.

Mandimonologue

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My daughter stepped on the scale in my bathroom today while I was cleaning. It was a golden moment from the heavens that I almost missed by being distracted by my own thoughts and busyness.

She stepped on it and said,”Ok mama, let’s see how great I am!”

What.

The.

Heck.

My face still might be slightly numb.
Seriously.
Men may not get this post, but I know women will.

For many of us ladies, the scale represents so many vile things. It boasts the measurement of our worth (or so we’ve learned from somewhere) and it doesn’t lie, right? It can’t be tricked or cheated like the number that we’ve put on our drivers licenses. The scale will expose all of your secret rendezvous with the drive thru, the left overs and the chocolate chip cookies that you thought were safe from the public eye, late in the…

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It’s gonna be a good year 

Last year around my birthday I wrote a poem called “Reining it in”.  
I remember exactly how I felt writing it. I had just returned from working at church camp and had gone from feeling pretty good about myself for getting through it, to spiraling into self loathing. My binge eating was out of control and my weight was the highest it had ever been in my life.  
My body was in pain, everything hurt and the only thing that was consistent was the urge to sleep.  

I could feel myself slipping back into a dark place of depression and I was trying really hard to be strong and pull back. I thought making myself sit down and be intentional about writing down how it felt would help me and be cathartic. This poem emerged and was an honest look at myself inside and out.  

 I didn’t know it then, but this was the beginning of “thinking about what I was thinking about” and changing the way I live my life.  
Here is an excerpt from that poem: 

“The hardest thing about being a realist is that you’re really only a pessimist in disguise.
To halt myself from traveling down the familiar gloomy tracks and force instead a stroll down a brighter path…
Well, I’m more comfortable sitting in the shade.
My disappointment hangs from my body,
heavy and always inconvenient.
Protecting me from pain but hard to
ignore…and if I’m being honest it only makes it worse.
But I am told to be in the light as He is in the light…
and I was.
Spent the fullness of time feeling welcomed and alive.
Now here we are again, and back to being the last resort.
Wasn’t quite ready to come home to the norm.
I have amends to make and bridges to burn, like calories…and we all know how good I am at that.
Frames and galleries of words that crowd my heart, and the space is getting limited in these chambers.
Bolted with hardware and welded to my arteries. 
This kind of blockage requires a skilled surgeon. 


Blood pumping through paths I’ve carved out to survive.
A masterpiece.

A bypass of emotion.
Today is a new day that has been made for my gain,
taking a new route and a fresh way.
I will choose gratitude.
What other choice do I have?” 

The heaviness and “congestion” I was suffering from was physical, mental and spiritual. I had spent a lifetime “eating” up my emotions and trying not to FEEL THE FEELINGS. I really had reached my bottom. I felt like I was either going to make a change or die this way. 

Since last summer my life has shifted dramatically, but it didn’t seem that way every day, until looking back on it now.  
Every day I was (and am still!) presented with a choice: believe in the commitment I made to myself and my family? 
Believe I could change and WAS changing?  
Believe that where I had no strength to continue, God would give it to me? 
Believe that when I fell off the wagon, He would set me back on? 
Believe that my body was strong and getting stronger, even when it felt like I could NOT do more? 

Or…

Believe it was impossible and slip back into what I’d always done? Numbing myself with food and trying desperately to not feel all the pain I was causing myself? 
  

Today is my birthday and I have had the rare privilege of being able to say that I have been given a second chance at living life. The life I was meant to live. I’m officially down 60 pounds. I work out 6 days a week and I actually enjoy being there and seeing my hard work pay off and my body gain strength and endurance. I’ve been allowed to start and lead a support group at my amazing gym, to build community with people who are starting their own health journey.  
I’ve been back to camp and was amazed by how much more I could do and how much more like myself I felt, not being at war against my body anymore. I’ve had the honor of being an example to not only my own children but also to youth kids who’ve seen me make a change over this past year. It feels amazing to be able to show them that this kind of freedom is possible.  
Freedom from self abuse and self hate. Freedom to FEEL THE FEELINGS! I’ve learned that being sad, or disappointed or stressed won’t kill me. It’s how we manage and deal with the feelings that makes us or breaks us.
Looking forward to what this next year has for me! From where I’m sitting, it can only get better and better! 

When you wish upon a star


 

 “You know, any wish is possible. All it takes is a little courage to set it free.” – Jiminy Cricket 

When I was little, I used to look out my window and find the brightest star I could and make wishes. I was quite a dramatic kid. It makes sense now knowing that I’ve been a sensitive artist type all along, always leaning toward the whimsical and romantic. 

I used to wear my Grandmas satin nightgowns and high heels for dress up and imagine I was a princess or some fancy rich lady. I would go into her backyard, and remember feeling like it was an enchanted garden, where I was the center of everything wonderful. I used to constantly daydream and pretend.   
I’ll confess, as corny as it is to admit…I still do. I think that is why I have such an obsession with Disney, it allows me to reach into that place in my heart that still believes in magic. 
A wish is a “desire or hope for something to happen”. How many thousands of wishes have we had so far in our lives? 
How many of them have come true, unnoticed or forgotten about?
As we become adults our skeptical nature outgrew our ability to believe in wishes.  

Experience left us jaded.

Doubtful. 

Bitter.  

We learned that we must be responsible and realistic. We learn to rely on judgment and sometimes sarcasm to survive. Packaging up all of our hurts and disappointments from our childhood and carrying them around with us through life, waiting to find a place to set them down and rest.  
Some of us found a resting place in our friends, careers, and family life. Some found it in romance, accomplishment or a certain faith.  
But at some point, our little hearts grew hardened and we stopped believing. Finding that place to rest and catch our breath has become the goal of this life in some ways.  

Some of us do it well, and we find some contentment. While some of us crash and burn again and again. 

“Children are happy because they don’t have a file in their minds called “all the things that can go wrong”.”            -Marianne Williamson   

 

For me, it showed itself in my body. The bigger I got and the more I would eat to find “rest”…I lost the belief that I was special and made for any special reason.  
Even after I found my true love and got married. Even after I experienced the joy of becoming a mother. Even after I poured my whole heart into my faith and truth as I understood it, I still felt unworthy and discontent. I didn’t believe that it was possible for me to be the me that I wanted to be, and that I felt was created to be.  
I put up a front for a long time. Doing all the “right” things that I thought I was “supposed” to do, all the while believing that there was no use. I was destined to fail and live with a certain level of misery.

And then I began to believe it could be different. 

While on vacation last week at Disney World, I found myself reminded again and again of the power of what we BELIEVE.

I know, I know, it’s cheesy but I can’t help it! God speaks to us in all kinds of ways. During the fireworks performance at the Magic Kingdom, I was overwhelmed with gratitude when I heard Jiminy Cricket say, “You know any wish is possible. All it takes is a little courage to set it free.”  

Gratitude for all the ways that my life has changed from one little moment of courage. 
Gratitude is the secret path back to believing in magic.  
We are blessed beyond what we can even fathom on a day to day basis.  
The air we breathe, the water we drink, the opportunities, the compliments, the genuine friendships and relationships and ultimately the choice, again and again to choose LOVE instead of FEAR.  
Every single day of my vacation as I walked and walked and WALKED some more, I found myself saying thank you. My body was able to take me all over the place and endure the many hours of walking in the Florida heat. My body has changed for sure, but I know it had to begin in my mind. 

“Do not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you which is GOOD and pleasing and perfect.” – Romans 12:2 NLT 



http://youtu.be/cRIzFNeEMqs

 

Fat chick attempting a 5K



A few days ago I walked my first 5k.

I repeat, a few days ago I walked a 5k.

Me.
Still over 300 lbs, me. 
Still in pain from nerve damage in my feet, me.
Still fat, plus sized and jiggly me.
Still scared that I might get made fun of or fail, me. 
Still huffs and puffs even though I’m killing workouts 6 days a week, me.
I, signed up for…and actually finished a 5k.  It took me just over 1 hour.  H
I still almost don’t believe it.
Last July on my birthday, if you would have told the almost 50 pounds heavier and 100% more miserable me…that within 6 months my life would be different and I would have accomplished my first 5k, I would have laughed in your face! 
My first day in the gym back in August was an alarming eye opener as to how really out of shape I was!   I barely did 15 minutes on the treadmill at a speed of 2.0 and went strait to the bathroom and burst into tears.  I called my husband at work, crying and humiliated.  Overwhelmed at the long and grueling road I had ahead of me.  Unsure if I was really going to be able to do this everyday.  
The pain was sharp and unrelenting.  My feet were swollen.  My body was heavy and not used to being pushed beyond what I was able to do everyday to run my household.  It was like staring up at the Empire State Building and knowing I had to get to the top by climbing the stairs.   Who wouldn’t want to turn around and bolt?! 
Everyday after I had to MAKE myself drive over to that gym and climb on the treadmill.  
Even though it hurt.  
Even though I hated it.  
Even though I felt stupid. 
 I told myself that if my husband had to make himself get up and go to work everyday, I had to get up and make myself come here, THIS would be job right now.  Since I couldn’t  yet do it for myself, I did it for him.  
Knowing it was a sacrifice for our family to rely on his income only so that I could dedicate myself to getting healthy, I made myself go.  I did not want to waste the gift he had given me in believing in me.  
So, I made myself walk.  
I made myself do an extra minute here and there until eventually I was able to stay on for 30 min. 
 I made myself do it everyday. 
Then I made myself do what the trainer asked me to do.  I totally submitted myself to her authority and would not allow myself to not at least try and do the things she told me to.  
Even when it hurt.  
Even if I felt like a wiener. 
Even when I’d catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror to see that my belly was showing doing the ball slams, and I wanted to die from disgust and shame.   I’d pull down my shirt and make myself keep going, even though all I wanted to do was grab my keys and speed away in my truck, and never look back. 
Those first two months were brutal. 
Sometimes it’s still brutal. 
Sometimes I still catch glimpses of myself and am bummed that more progress and hard work isn’t visible.  
And sometimes I complete 5k’s and feel like I own the world.
Sometimes I amaze myself by the workouts that I’m able to do know.
The endurance I’ve built.
The weight I can lift.
The distances I can go.
Sometimes I’m amazed at how bad I want to be in the gym everyday day now! 
How excited I am to push myself.  
How amazing it feels to make my family proud.
How amazing it feels to make myself proud. 
I’ve always wanted to do a 5k and I never did. 
 I was afraid.  
Well now I can say I’ve DONE one.  
One goal reached and many more to come.  Im not where I want to be yet but I’m well on my way, because I’m not afraid anymore.  And as cliche as it sounds…if I can do this, quite LITERALLY anyone can do this.  


Fat Chick Attempting Yoga: Part 2

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I just mopped my kitchen floor without having to take a break. Just months ago it hurt my lower back so bad I would have to sit and rest. As would doing a full sink of dishes, or chopping onions, garlic and veggies for meals. I somehow managed to get stuff done, but I was a hot mess, constantly covered in sweat and headed for bigger disaster.

Confession: during this dark season, I squandered my time home with my baby girl before she began kindergarten. (That’s probably why the day she started school was such a turning point for me.) I would bustle about half asleep making breakfast and lunches and send my son off to school, only to close the door and let Disney Junior raise her for a few hours while I flopped myself onto the couch under a blanket to sleep until lunchtime. I will regret it for the rest of my life, the time I robbed myself and my kids from having a functional mommy. The time I robbed from my husband, being lazy while he had no choice but to go to work to provide for us, trusting that I was holding down the fort.

My everyday life was plagued with pain and feelings of despair. I truly hated who I was and what I had become. I began this blog as a means to sift through my feelings of depression and DO SOMETHING about it. I also wanted people to know that this is REAL life…let’s be honest about this stuff!! Why are we all pretending to have it together???! My blog became my prayer journal. I’ve wrestled through a lot on these pages…I never thought I’d really see a day when the energy would shift.

Two years ago I tried yoga for the first time and the experience was…well…memorable.

(you can read that post here: https://mandimonblog.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/fat-chick-attempting-yoga-part-1/ )

But now, after 5 months of balanced eating (still learning!) and almost daily workouts, I’ve been feeling so good…I decided to try it again.

40 pounds lost sure doesn’t seem to be showing quite yet on my body, but I tell you it CERTAINLY does on a yoga mat!
I was able to do the entire hour session and even though I had to modify some moves, it felt amazing.

Unlike the first time, when I was so ashamed and disgusted, I was free. Before, I was desperate to be in any other body than my own. This time, I felt strong, proud and willing to push myself. (And, I am still OVER 300 pounds! Whew, that was scary to type! But it’s REAL.) The instructor kept saying, “This is about acceptance…accepting your body as it is, and appreciating it.”

For the first time in my life, I can honestly say that is true. I appreciate this body. It has worked hard for me even under abuse and distress. I am learning to accept who I am and am learning what I am capable of. My mantra has become, “if I don’t lose another pound or inch…as long as I keep doing what I’m doing, I’m successful!”

For those of you who are like I was, and are thinking you don’t have the time, or don’t think you’re worth the time…thinking maybe it would be robbing your kids, family or job of your attention…or setting this time aside for yourself is being selfish or vain, consider this:

You are robbing them NOW.
You are cheating them NOW.
You’re ABUSING yourself and cheating yourself, RIGHT NOW! And its not how we’re meant to live!

The time you spend devoted, dedicated and committed to hating yourself is the SAME time and energy that becomes devoted, dedicated and committed to loving yourself.
Which only benefits and blesses those that you love.

The way our babies watch us hate ourselves is tragic. They are watching and listening. Learning from us how to care for themselves. I can’t turn back time and erase it, but I have changed the course we were on.

This is more than attaining a certain pant size, it is getting my life back. It is mopping my floor and playing with my kids. It is being able to hold a warrior pose when I couldn’t before.

It is being able to honor all those days I robbed from myself and my family, and making the most of the ones ahead.

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