Jumping into Focus 

When I first started working out, everything hurt SO BAD and I hardly felt like I could get through 30 minutes of exercise. 

Everything made me winded.  

Everything seemed awkward.

Everything seemed uncomfortable, physically and emotionally.  

I was constantly tugging my shirt down, or pulling my pants up. Rigidly self-conscious and nervous, on top of physically uncomfortable. I understand on a deep and personal level why people join a gym and never want to step back in there…because I lived it. It is terrifying and humiliating. Even if you are fortunate enough to be surrounded by the right people who won’t let you quit or give up, it’s such an exhausting experience for your body and your heart, and it takes guts to keep going despite it all.  

One of the first movements my trainer introduced me to was step ups. I had to hold onto TRX straps to help me step up onto the single step, and then back down to the turf.  20 steps on each side got my heart rate up instantly and it took awhile for that to get easier for me. Now that I am a couple years into my journey, those first fundamental movements I learned have gotten MUCH easier, and I’ve moved on to more and more things that I am able to do.  

Last week I discovered that I am capable of jumping!!  For anyone who is overweight, especially “morbidly obese” as I have been, we know that JUMPING is not on the menu.  
Like, ever.
And if I’m being honest, I have avoided jumping movements for a long time out of fear.  
We had some box jumps to do during our new group training sessions, and I didn’t want to let all the other peeps down in the group by not even trying to see if I could do the jump. It was low enough to the ground where I didn’t feel like if I failed, I couldn’t recover gracefully.  
So, I did it.  
I jumped. I landed on the thing. Hopped down, and did it again.  
It was SO FUN!!! I will NEVER grow tired of learning what more and more I am capable of. Being able to LIVE life and do these things is why I have fallen in love with this process.  

That is the magic of fitness.   

BEING ABLE.

But sometimes I forget that.  

Sometimes that gets blurred by something negative, dark and gross that sneaks into my head and clouds my vision, and I lose focus. 

Today, while getting to workout with one of my favorite peeps, I was trying to show off my box jumps! I did 4-5 in a row and he challenged me to add on one more level. I knew I could do it, so I did! He filmed it for me because I wanted to share my newfound skill with the world! 

We finished our workout and I headed to my car to watch the video, anxious to put it on my Instagram as my new NSV (non scale victory).  
My heart sank.  
All I could see was my body through polluted vision.  I watched it 2-3 times and thought, “Well, I can’t put this up. I look so BIG, my skin is all loose, jiggly and hanging. Is this what I REALLY look like? Ugh. Nope.” And I threw my phone in my purse.  

I ran around and did some grocery shopping and errands and before I headed back home, I checked my phone and low and behold, my camera roll popped up. The last picture that I took on my phone before my box jump video this morning, was of an affirmation that my support group ladies had come up with last week as our mantra. I had posted it as an encouragement and reminder to everyone:

“I have one body and I am worth the effort.”

But as I sat I my car, the message pierced my heart and  hit home once again…FOR ME.   

Everything came right back into sharp focus.
That knee jerk reaction we have as women to see ourselves and instantly cringe and HATE what we see is what fogs our joy. 

 Here I am, with this strong, amazing body that has been through hell and carries me every day through my life, jumping with ease and landing on things like a boss…and I’ve got the audacity to think it ugly?! 

No.

I will not lose focus. 
 Just because I don’t “look a certain way” yet, does not mean I haven’t changed. Just because my body jiggles doesn’t mean I’m not fit.  Just because I’m not a certain size or weight doesn’t mean I’m not successful.  Just because I’m not where I want to be yet, doesn’t mean I can’t be proud.  

I refuse to continue to do this to myself. 

For those of you who are just starting and everything seems to hurt, and feel pointless…please don’t give up. Please don’t allow that darkness to creep in. I promise if you keep going, it will get better and better and BETTER.  
As a reminder to myself, I looked up my post from when I first started my journey,
(https://mandimonblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/05/update-of-the-year/).
And I will continue to remind myself how far I’ve come, because I have one body! And, it is worth the effort! 

Let me paint you a picture…

I have a small gallery of canvas paintings from various “Paint & Sip” nights growing on my dining room wall.  
You know what I’m talking about right?


You pick the painting online that you and 5 of your friends agree  would be a good one to attempt to copy.  You pick the date and gather at said place…anticipating FUN and a night out with your girlfriends!  Lets be real, this is a modern day quilting circle, but with alcohol, and we all LOVE IT.  And in theory, you order drinks and excitedly sit down for a few hours of some much deserved (and expensive!) creative fellowship.  If all goes well, you’ll have a beautiful, medium sized piece of original art on canvas to take home and wow your family with.

Right?

I proudly bring them home and hang them all in one place, because they don’t match and I obviously don’t take my decorating too seriously.  They look ridiculous, but I think its hilarious and “my gallery” ALWAYS starts conversations.  I have a blooming, swirly tree, a glorious ocean wave breaking at sunset, and my most recent addition: a majestic winter stag standing in falling snow amidst wintry trees.

My sister and I went with some friends last week to this holiday themed paint and sip night.   We settled in with our drinks and got ready to begin.  I looked around before we began, trying to make conversation and jokes with the women around me. ( I drive my sister nuts when we go out in public because I always like to talk to everyone!)

This particular painting venue I hadn’t been to before.  I noticed immediately it was in a nicer part of town, and since I had to go there directly from a full day at work at the gym, I felt a little “under dressed” amidst all the other women who seemed perfectly dressed and accessorized.  It didn’t matter, we were all wearing the same dang paint splattered aprons and managed to break the ice while waiting for the instruction to begin.  It’s not hard for a room full of women to start to talk to each other within minutes and settle into a comfortable vibe with each other.

Pretty soon, all of us ladies were offering up commentary on what was happening on all of our different canvases. By the sounds of things it was getting pretty rough in there. Slowly, I became very aware of all the little nasty, negative things that were being said.  And once it started, it seemed to catch on like a wild fire across the room.

“I can’t mix this color to look right. Yours looks so good, mine is so ugly! Looks like vomit.”

“These trees are terrible. I cant even draw a strait line! I knew I couldn’t do this. I cant even paint trees. If they were real trees we’d have to cut them down.”

“My deer is so fat! He looks so stupid. I just ruined mine!”

“My deer looks anorexic. It doesn’t even look like a deer!! I may as well paint black over this and start over.”

 

You get the idea.

 

The saddest part is, that everything being said was in a very “light hearted” way.

Joking. Not taking it too “seriously”.

And yet…I knew better.

“THIS IS WHAT WE DO TO OURSELVES.” I thought.

“We as women…this is what we do. We dress nice, we show up, we have the best intentions, and then we slowly rip ourselves to shreds with a smile on our face.”

Despite being beautiful, stylish and seemingly put together women…the urge to surrender to that deep self loathing that haunts most of us, showed up and robbed some of us of good memories and $45 dollars.  Some of us were absolutely miserable.  Didn’t seem to be enjoying  the experience at all.  I’m not really sure why this grabbed me so strongly  on this night, but it just seemed  so extreme and so alarming…It made me feel so sad.

It also made me feel grateful that  I no longer live imprisoned to doubt.  I may not yet be where I want to be, yet..but I KNOW that I am able.  Even if it takes me 5 years.  Even if I don’t lose lose one more pound.  I know that I am changed.  If I surrender to that loathing…I don’t stay there for long.

I CAN’T!

If there is one thing that I know FOR SURE about fitness…it’s that it shows you how CAPABLE you are.  Once you learn that you can push yourself beyond what you ever imagined…you feel UNSTOPPABLE.  Not just in the gym, but in LIFE.

The way you start to think about yourself and talk about yourself starts to change.  You start to appreciate yourself and your body.  You start to show kindness to yourself the way you do with your friends.

I had the strongest urge to stand on the table and yell, “COME WITH ME IF YOU WANT TO LIVE!”  Which is ironic because I was most likely still one of the biggest women in the room.  I know that most people would assume by looking at me, that I would be the woman with the least amount of confidence in that room.  Appearances are so deceiving. 

To people who don’t know me or where I’ve started from,  I’m just a funny and fat lady.   They don’t know what I can lift, or how long I can sprint, or how many burpees I can do, or how I feel when I’m able to run freely with my kids. They don’t know how hard I’ve fought for the confidence I’ve gained.  And they don’t realize that they can have it too.

I wish all women could tap into that source of strength that is buried deep down within all of our hearts and LIVE THERE.

That strength that we all have that keeps us going when we want to quit.

That will and faith to make things happen when all seems impossible.

That drive that pushes us MAKE IT HAPPEN when our loved ones need us to come through?

That strength, and fierce love that I know burns in the heart of every woman?

There’s enough of that in there for you to spend on yourself too!

In fact, its crucial that we do.

We can’t let the next generation of women who are watching us, see us and hear us do this to ourselves anymore.  We have to stop this cycle.  It’s the same thing that we’ve inherited from our mothers and grandmothers about having our picture taken.  Why do we all cringe and hate having our picture taken?  Like nobody knows what we look like?! We must be in the pictures!! We must DO the things without tearing ourselves down! Why is this so hard for us?! 

I didn’t know I had that love in there for ME until I met her in the gym and saw that she was worthy.  Sometimes I still forget, and I fall into that trap of doubting and loathing…but am so grateful for these kind of reminders in my life to show me how far I’ve come.

It’s just like these dang paintings we’re all paying to make.

You’re not going to get it exactly like someone else’s.  Yours will have its own flair.  Not every line is going to be strait, or every curve just right.   You’re going to mess up, and it might not look the way  you want it to…but it’s beautiful because its yours.

OWN IT GIRL.

(P.S. This must be shared: As in life…when in a room of 57 winter stags, my sister emerged as a brooding and beautiful storm on an ocean.  Her painting has also been pictured here, and proudly hangs in the bottom right of my gallery.) 

 

Fat Chick at a Fitness Conference 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was a conundrum.  

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

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


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

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

But, tears of joy! 

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

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.  

  

 

 

Restroom of Reverence 

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

I walked for ALMOST 11 minutes.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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When in doubt…

  
I’ve lost 72 pounds so far.  

It has been hard, slow, grueling and laden with ups and downs. There are times I feel I’ve reached a stand still because my expectations for where I’d be by now have not been met. 
I have had great days. Amazing days!!! I have had awesome workouts and have enjoyed perfectly clean and homemade healthy meals.  
I have also had crappy days, embarrassing and sluggish workouts. And I admit, in moments of weakness, I’ve stuffed my face with cheap pizza and cake and crap more times than I wanna say. It happens. This is real life. 

It feels like with every victory I have in this season, I self sabotage twice as hard. I still doubt myself and underestimate my worthiness and capability.  

But, each time I fall, I seem to learn a bit more, gain something new and just keep pressing forward. There is no other option at this point. I’ve tasted the life I’m chasing after, and I will not be stopped.  

The discipline I have had to learn and apply in fitness, carries over into the rest of my life as a wife and mom. In running our family and household, I am more active, more involved and more ALIVE.  

There is a certain kind of confidence that is built in training that cannot be earned anywhere else. I didn’t understand this mindset from the outside. I used to make fun of people like me. Roll my eyes and call them “obsessed”.  

But I get it now.  

It isn’t until you step into it and commit, that you realize that others who’ve made a commitment to health and fitness aren’t just “health freaks” or “gym rats”.  

It’s about embracing a wholistic wellness as a human being. Taking care of the one body you have.  Learning to love yourself and care for yourself as a person, as you learn to take care of your body. So that you may be the best you can be for your friends and family. Living life to the fullest. 

 It’s about believing you can do hard things, and endure hard things, and stand being uncomfortable for awhile when things get hard. It’s about the accomplishment and relief and power that washes over you at the end of each workout that has you leaving the gym ready to conquer whatever life will bring your way next.  
There are no short cuts. The struggle cannot be skipped or avoided. It hurts, and most of the time just plain sucks. But I’m not watching life happen around me anymore.  

I’m trying things. 

I’m doing things. 

I’m learning to push past fear. 

I know I am not the same.  

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This is my oxygen mask breakfast.  My "stop what you're doing and take care of yourself before you crash and burn" breakfast.  This is my I need to eat for LOVE of my body, not because I hate it breakfast.  This is my, "I know what to do, eat foods that give life and fuel and make my body feel vibrant" breakfast.  This is my quit with the gimmicks, half assed effort and BS breakfast.  My, stop eating like an asshole breakfast.  MY PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH breakfast.  My keep going, stay the course, everyday is new, breakfast.  And it's also a spinach, eggs avocado and berries breakfast.  #grateful #stayingthecourse #goalsongoalsongoals #breakfast #determined

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