Begin Again

It’s November in Northern Nevada and the weather has just started getting wet and cranky.  I’m standing outside my gym in the rain.  My body is hot, and I can see steam floating up off my arms as I lean against the wet wall and let allow myself 1 minute to cry.  I had been pushing all of my built up emotions down and down and down, as far as I could, throughout the whole workout.  I finally had to step out so that I wouldn’t choke on my own feelings lodged in my throat.  “1 minute, that’s all you get.” I tell myself.

Pushing yourself physically in a workout will ALWAYS break down those walls we work so hard to put up.  It exposes you, makes you feel vulnerable and you cannot hide.  That is part of why working out is so uncomfortable for most people at first, and we don’t like to do it!   But eventually, it turns into a magical, victorious, HIGH, that us weird fitness people chase like a drug.  That feeling when you’ve conquered the initial discomfort and you start to feel stronger, faster, BETTER. Suddenly there is NOTHING you cant face out in the world, once you’ve faced yourself in the gym.

Fitness magic.

But…starting over is SO HARD.

“I am so tired of feeling this way.  Is this ALWAYS going to be how it feels?  Why did I do this to myself? Why did I stop??!  Will I ever get where I want to be?” I think to myself, as I struggle to catch my breath.

So MANY valid excuses…that mean absolutely NOTHING in this moment, because I feel defeated and robbed of all my confidence I had worked so hard for.    I lean over with my hands on my knees. I take in deep breaths and let the rain fall on my back, and my mind race.  Tears rolling down my face.   “Here I am, eating my own words.” I say out loud to no one, and laugh.

I stand up, wipe my face with shirt and head back in to the session to finish, because even though I fell off my wagon for a bit, I CANNOT quit.  Too many people are counting on me to BELIEVE in what I talk about everyday.

So here I am, walking my talk.

My 9 year old daughter has been asking everyone in our family if she is fat.

It’s been very subtle, but I have discovered that she has been privately polling multiple family members at different times and it shatters my heart.  She is NOT fat, though I know there have been kids at school who have called her fat, and she has become sensitive to it.  I recognize those feeling all too well.

I worry, is it because of ME? Because her mom is in THIS body? And her mom was in another body before that? And working on another body still?  Has she, despite my best efforts, inherited my shame?  Has her being present and aware of my weight loss journey/body image journey/self acceptance journey, done the opposite of what I had hoped? I wanted to show her that despite everything and ANYTHING, I am capable of AWESOME…so that she could KNOW that she is too?

Even just typing this, I can feel my insides start to ache with the thoughts of her not knowing how beautiful and magical she is.

I watch her when she doesn’t know I’m  looking, and wonder how I made this human.  Her little 9 year old girl face. Her nose is freckled like mine.  Her hair is thick, blond and short. She likes it just long enough to tuck behind her ears.  She is a tomboy who loves to fight and wrestle and get dirty.  She LOVES karate.  She hates pink and loves black and green.  But she also thinks boys are SO CUTE (especially Justin Bieber and her 20 year old karate instructor, AJ).

She is in love with love.  She thinks shes going to grow up and marry her dad.  She loves to hug and kiss and crawl ALL over us, and declare her love for everyone, much to the dismay of her big brother.  She’s obsessed with all kinds of animals (except creepy crawly ones) and her heart is so tender,  she cries instantly if an animal is lost, hurt or wounded in movies.  She loves to crank her music up and sing at the top of her lungs…but gets embarrassed and shrinks all the way down to the floor if she catches us listening.  She loves to laugh.  Once she starts up its hard to get her to settle down.

She is our favorite girl in the world!! My ladybug.

And some asshole kid called her fat?

Who could ever know the depths of how wonderful she is just by looking at her?

But isn’t that true for all of us? How do we so quickly forget that we are harboring all the BEST parts of ourselves inside of these bodies, and not the other way around??

Coming home from our conference in September was a climatic whirlwind. There was an overload of praise, contentment, pride and satisfaction with ALL THE THINGS!! And there was also recovery from being dehydrated,  and off of my regular routine of steady workouts and usual diet.   I happily let myself enjoy it ALL, and honestly never quite made it back to “normal” before going on another trip and adding insult to injury.  Slowly and surely I started to make excuse after excuse and feel like crap.  Days turned into weeks, weeks turn into months and lbs turn into more lbs. I gained some weight back, and started to spiral downward and feel out of control and lose heart.

The good news is, it is my job everyday at my club, to convince people that no matter how far they have fallen off the wagon…they can get back up and try again. It is my job to assure people that even though it SUCKS in the beginning…it turns into magic when you start to love yourself.  It is also my job to continue to KEEP IT REAL. All along, sharing this journey, with all of its ups and downs.

And my most IMPORTANT job, is showing my little girl that my value as a woman is not defined by the state of my body, but the state of my heart!

So, I had to begin again.

And, however many times I have to start over, I will. Again and again, I HAVE TO. Because I have to show my girl that there is so much more that makes a person special than what their body looks like!!

And, for those of us who continue to get back up and keep trying, despite seeing the results we want to see immediately, and despite all of the doubts, fears and setbacks…KEEP GOING.

Push through, until it is magic again.

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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. 😉😜

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.  

  

 

 

The universal female affliction 

I had the pleasure of being a part of a women’s group called “Sacred Sisterhood” for 8 weeks. It was so special. I got to meet some beautiful women with whom I wouldn’t have crossed paths with otherwise, and I am so grateful. I got slow down and hear their stories and really learn some things from them. One of the topics we discussed was our relationship with our bodies and food. Our “homework” assignment that week was to stand in front of a mirror naked and journal about it. 

I know this sounds crazy! To even participate in this activity at all, and then to post the poem online for the whole internet to read? 
Madness.   

(And I also excuse anyone from reading this, like my dad or brothers, who might be bummed out by my frankness. I won’t be offended if you’d rather pass on this blog post! Lol)  

I’ve thought a lot about it and decided that in the spirit of “keepin it real”, this poem must be shared. I have been on a weight loss journey for years now. Lost 75 pounds, gained fitness and endurance. My relationship with my body is finally changing. I was ready to accept the challenge! But, the craziest thing I’ve learned on this whole journey is that so many women I’ve admired for their beauty or assumed had it easy because of their looks or bodies are suffering just as much (if not more!) than I was, under the curse of self loathing. As I continue to learn to love myself and this body I’ve got, the more my heart breaks for women all around me who don’t SEE how wonderful and beautiful they really are. It truly is the universal female affliction.  

I could definitely look in the mirror naked and see a whole list of things that are gross. My body is never going to be “bikini ready” but it’s mine and it has served me well, especially under years of abuse. I choose instead, to see myself in a different way. The way I hope my daughter chooses to see herself someday and all of you, my brilliant friends and sisters. Look beyond what’s in the mirror.  
This poem is dedicated to my yurt girls!! 😝😍

My body is heavy shades of pinks and whites.
Freckled with brief moments under the sun. 
It hangs heavy with all of my apologies and best intentions.
This suit has always suited me, though I’ve never taken the time to have it tailored, taken in, worked on. 


Only now, as the softness has begun to melt and shrink have my muscles and backbone hardened enough for me to see the point.

My feet, through electric pain, have carried the weight of all of my worlds. Blistered and swollen, they still serve me. 

My legs are pillars of blood, fat and bones that keep me standing tall. 
Though, they have been wrapped under heavy blankets of depression and laziness. 
But, have also been wrapped around love, between sheets.  

Sweaty, sexy and strong. 
 They have trudged through every one of my unknowns. 

My hips are barely trying to emerge. Still hiding.
But when I’m not paying attention, they surprise me with a glimpse of a womanhood I thought girls like me weren’t allowed to enjoy.

My stomach, soft and ribboned with stretch marks, still large in mass.  

You see, it’s taken a long time to store up all of the fears and burdens I’ve pretended not to have.  
But oh…I’m learning to let them go,

and now appreciating how it has ached with hearty laughter. 

Felt the butterflies of new love and excitement.  
And, carried the joy of two healthy, beautiful babies. It gave them shelter, safety and warmth.  

My breasts fed them and have also fed me…the confidence I would need to survive my own nakedness. 
When all else failed, there they were to remind me of my power as a woman. 

My arms have held my husband close, my children, and loved ones while also holding me together in dark closets crying out to God. 
Always gathering, 
always carrying,
all of my strength to wear all of my hats. 

My hands have played songs, 

written poems, 

made meals, 

  They have been raised as high I as could reach outside the window of a rushing car, just to feel the wind.  
I used to see nothing but flaws, failures and disgust. 
Now, I only see gratitude.  

  

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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Girl Empire 

This past Saturday I was invited and challenged to write a poem for a conference here in Reno called Girl Empire.  (Check it out here: http://girlempirecon.com/program/)

It was for girls ages 9-19 to gather together with some of the leading women in our city to learn what it means to be bold, play big and dream big for their future. 

I was absolutely honored to be a part of this day and even more humbled that I was asked to share my writing.

After some deep soul searching and picking the brains of the most brilliant women in my life, it became clear to me that there is SO MUCH we want our young girls to know! I kept asking myself and my friends, “What would you want the 13 year old YOU, to know?”  So many sharp, smart, wise and IMPORTANT things came into laser focus.  Here are just a few of the responses from these ladies that have now become a little treasure trove of girl power that I will save forever. 

“I would tell 13 year old me that she is loved and that no matter what she is going through, no matter how far away an end to the situation seems, tomorrow is always a new day. And I would encourage her to fully apply herself at school and to set goals and believe in them.”

“Always lead by example; if you see something about the world that you don’t like, then don’t allow yourslef to do it.”

“Pay attention in Math class!  You will need it if you want to go anywhere, trust me!  If you can pay attention in Math, the rest will come easy.  If you don’t understand it, get a tutor, stay in at lunch with a teacher, do whatever it takes.”

“No matter how bad it seems at times it’s just a nano second in a long string  of life you have yet to live. So just keep living because the bad doesn’t last forever.”

“There is money to be made off of teaching you to devalue and distrust yourself. You will have to actively push back against this. The good news is learning to sift through all this will make you wise and graceful.”

“Embrace not being good at stuff and failing.  Like, not getting something right the first/millionth time is actually how its suppose to be, so its not that big of deal to not be great at something.  Keep going!”

Never be Jealous of anything or anyone. What you are and what you have is always enough. The right person will come along for you because they will be interested  in who and what YOU are. Never compare yourself to anyone else, not who they are or what they have.”

“I wish my 13-30 year old self knew that she was not obligated to please ANYONE.  That it isn’t selfish to follow her own dreams/desires.  Being liked and approved of isn’t life’s ultimate goal.”

“Guard your body and protect your heart. That’s the advice I would have given to my 13 yr old self. I was raped when I was 13. It changed my life forever.”

Not everyone needs to go to college, but college is never a waste. You need to understand math if you ever want to be independent. If you want to be an artist or run any kind of business – math. Want to get a good deal – math. Want a marriage of equals – math. Politics, poetry, technology, math will help you with it all. I wish I’d paid more attention to math.”

I would tell my young self to love yourself and don’t let people influence you to do harm to yourself and others. Accept who you are. Look inward for acceptance, believe in yourself.”

Laugh at yourself. Not only because we are all ridiculous but because it disarms bullies and makes your enemies look like asshats.”

You are not what other people say you are. If people treat you poorly that is a commentary on them, not you. You are valuable and unique.”

I wish I could post ALL of the wisdoms I have heard in the past week.  I wish I could encapsulate it in some sort of multi vitamin and make my daughter take it every single morning with breakfast. I wish I could carry all of these and the experiences gained under my belt, back in time and show my 13 year old self that we end up kind of awesome. 

In the end, I wrote from the heart.  Here is the poem I shared. 

“We are Girl Empire”  
By: Mandi Holden 


When they put my newborn daughter into my arms for the first time, 
I was instantly in love 
and instantly terrified. 
I studied her face 
and her fat little hands. 
I was frightened she would forget that she was galactic, 

like I almost did. 


A girl. 
A galaxy, 
a canvas huge and vast. 
One of us. 
Beaming with brilliance. 
Made of Stardust. 
Fibers, minerals, 
skin and bones. 
Heart of the earth,
wrapped in a blanket and sent home. 
I read her face, and saw myself. 
I remember you.   
I remember you well. 
I remember and I pray that you’ll remember to:
find the time to learn. 
Find the time to twirl.
Find the time to build.  
Find the time for YOU.

And in the perfect and lonely moments of pretend,
while you’re still content with being your own friend, 
Enjoy! 
And remember the way it feels…
so that you will know that it’s okay 
to take pleasure in your own company. 

When you’re deep in play and everything is just so, 
and no one else gets a say…
Will you remember? 

The satisfaction. 

So when people call you bossy, 
you can assure them they’ve come to the right place. 
Birthright capabilities, 
replaced with 
inherited insecurities.
 
Growing up and growing taller.

Do not trade in your backbone 
when you need it the most.
Shooting up through the cracks. 
Breaking free from expectations. 
Unfolding our fears away from our hearts and blooming. 

Faces toward the sun. 
Alive with possibilities 
and blanketing the world with our beauty. 
And here we are, 
sleeves pulled up-
ready to lift the rug of the world
and peek underneath. 

Because we are not afraid. 

We remember who we are. 



Taking Inventory

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“Laziness casts into a deep sleep, And an idle man will suffer hunger.”
Proverbs 19:15

This is a scripture that I came across yesterday. It completely represents how far I’ve come spiritually on this journey.

I was constantly tired and constantly hungry. Constantly eating…but never satisfied. And sadly, deeply depressed. This was haunting to read, because it is hard to be honest with myself and admit that that was me.

Idle is a term which generally refers to a lack of motion or energy. I was an idle woman.

Self discipline is doing what needs to be done even when you don’t feel like it.

I’m still working on this virtue, but now I can honestly say that my days are filled with energy and motion!
I love it and I’m sad I waited so long to make this change. Every day I keep pushing forward and stay consistent is another day it all just becomes a normal part of my life.

And not just the gym grind, but also household work/chores and keeping commitments…being on time…being a woman of my word. Slowing down and being more intentional with my kids and following through. Planning ahead…making healthy meals. Even silly stuff like taking the actual time to do my makeup and hair on a more regular basis. I like that I’m becoming someone who takes care of her business. I like being someone who no longer wastes the time I’ve been blessed with.

The more self respect I gain, I am more comfortable shedding the tolerance for negative attitudes, vibes, relationships and habits in my life. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

I’m enjoying this snowball effect. As I continue to take care of myself, I am finding that I am taking care of all my “stuff” too. It feels amazing. 😍

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.

Update of the Year!

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The last time I wrote a blog post (a poem entitled “Reining it in”), I was headed down a familiar road. A comfortable cave of self-loathing was beckoning me to come back inside and stay for awhile.

I had just returned from serving teenagers and kids for two weeks at church camp with my husband and children. I was feeling amazing! I was feeling accomplished and good about myself. Like I was being useful and productive in the world again. It was hard, long days and hiking all over camp killed my feet but, I dared to get a little confident and bounce back in my step.

That is, until I got home and pictures of me starting popping up on Facebook. Well meaning friends and kids who had been at camp were tagging me in photos that represented all the fun we had had together, and instead of “liking” all of them I froze in horror. They meant no harm, but with every notification my fuzzy feelings of self love and contentment fizzled into nothingness.

Looking at the pictures and seeing what I HAD ACTUALLY looked like on stage while leading games and activities was devastating. I was disgusted with how far I had let myself go and even more disgusted with how helpless I felt.

You know the scene in Braveheart…where the camera pans from the side of the field where the archers have just let loose arrows, ablaze with fire, and it slowly follows them as they soar through the air to the other side, where they start pelting dudes and setting them on fire? Well, that’s how it felt watching the pictures of camp roll across my news feed. Fiery arrows strait to my heart. It was pathetic. It didn’t matter that I had spent a lovely time with my family or had held meaningful conversations about life and faith with kids. I threw all that out the window.

I wrote that poem in an attempt to stay focused and positive, but the negative force I was allowing was as strong as an undercurrent and I let myself get swept away.

I stayed that way for a few weeks.

The summer raced by. We had all sorts of good times and mini family dramas. Family fun nights, financial stresses, birthday celebrations, and even one really great neighborhood block party. Our summer was full and by the end when we started planning for all the back-to-school action, I had successfully stuffed away and had been ignoring my blog, and my self-concept right along with it. I had surrendered to the fact that it was all over. This is who I was meant to be. I took down the Realology fb page and even attempted to delete the blog itself. The only reason why I didn’t was because there are some poems on here that I haven’t properly saved and didn’t want to lose. But as far as blogging? Boo. There are a million people blogging about losing weight, even right this minute. It’s cliche. It’s boring. Who cares? I thought,” maybe I’ll just keep this as a place to post poems and that’s it.”

And that was that.

Or so I thought.

At the end of August my kids started school. My son was going into third grade and my daughter was starting her journey in Kindergarten. She absolutely could NOT WAIT to be a big girl in school. It was an exciting day in our household when the morning came and it was finally time to get dressed, pack lunches and head off to school. My husband left work to join me in taking her to her first day of school, just like we had done together with our son. As we walked over and helped her find her spot in line, I found myself overcome with emotion (which is NOT how I felt when we had taken our son). I was fighting tears and the wave of emotion that was inside my mind demanding more time with her, my baby! I wasn’t ready to hand her over!

I held it together but my daughter was still able to pick up on the energy of me and all the other emotional mothers. She saw that some kids were NOT as stoked as she was to be at school. As we waited for the bell to ring she became more and more nervous and shy despite our hugs, kisses and reassurances. When the bell rang and it was time, I was stunned to watch my baby girl stand up strait, suck in her quivering bottom lip and stick her chest out to walk triumphantly and confidently into her classroom.

I lost it.
Guys, so many feelings!

How could I dare continue living in such FEAR? She inspired me. Her courage was genuine and I will never ever forget that look of determination on her face (even though I KNOW she really wanted us to carry her back home). I needed to be WORTHY of being this little creatures mother. I needed to lay down my excuses and
be the brave woman that she NEEDS in her life to look up to…so that she can keep walking through unknown doors.

That same day, after some coaxing from a good friend who I had shared the experience with, I walked through my own unknown door.

The doors of the Anytime Fitness by my house.

I was warmly welcomed (to my surprise) and quite literally have not looked back.

I have been overwhelmed by the support, love and encouragement I have received. I will share details of my new adventures as someone who works out at the gym in posts to come, but for now I will leave you with this, since that day in August I have lost 31 pounds and have WORKED for every one of them.

But honestly, it not just about losing weight and getting healthy. It’s about being fully alive and not surrendering to being miserable. I want to be someone my husband and kids can be proud of, and mostly someone I can be proud of.

This is just the beginning of this new chapter.

Stay tuned.

Previous Older Entries

Day 20 of 35!!! 😊✅✅✅ Today was a CRAZY day, so I had to fit a quick 20 min SOMETHING in this morning! Hey...a workout is a workout! 💪🏽💥🙌🏼🔥💜 #keepgoing #persist #35daysofgainz #notallworkoutareglorious

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