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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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. 😜

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. 😉😜

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! 

20 Facts about me 

A friend of mine on Instagram tagged me for this “20 Facts about me” challenge and I thought it seemed fun.  

I’m always thinking about, talking about, working through and writing about about such serious and hard stuff…sometimes it’s just fun to do stuff like this.  Of course…when I tried to post it to my IG account, it was way too long! 

What can I say? I like to write. So I decided to post it over here on my blog.  

In any event, please enjoy learning some random facts about me.  Feel free to play along too if you’re bored.  😜


1.) I am 34 years old!! Birthday is In July.

2.) I have two kids: my 11 year old son and my 8 year old daughter. They’re the source of my absolute joy and also constant madness! Being a mom is hard!!  

3.) My husband and I have been together for 13 years. He is life.  

4.) I LOVE music. All kinds of music and I love singing and going dancing…but my favorite is rap and hip hop.  

5.) I am the oldest of 7…but “big sister” to many!! Lol I’m obsessed with my siblings, they’re my besties. 

6.) I have been writing this blog since before I began my weight loss journey and I actually really love to write poetry…I am secretly a super-sensitive-artsy nerd. Take a stroll through my archives…you might find something deep and passionate…that would most likely cause an eye roll. 

7.) I have ALWAYS wanted to do karaoke and I have never had the guts! Dang it. 

8.) I play with my earlobes to self soothe…I’ve done it ever since I was little. I find myself doing it at the weirdest times. I can also wiggle my ears on command. It grosses my family out. I also like to reach over and squeeze the chins of those I truly love. I’m so sorry, I’m so weird. 

9.) I am OBSESSED with Disneyland. Like, it’s my favorite place of ALL. That’s where my hubs and I would choose to go for every vacation.  

10.) We have a boxer dog named Khalisi, after the character on Game of Thrones. She drives us crazy but is the absolute best dog of all the universe. She has unending joy and love for us…dogs are special.  

11.) Mexican food is my all time favorite food. Any and all Mexican foods. All of them.  

12.) I shake my legs to fall asleep. So vigorously at times, that my hubs has actually grown accustomed to the shaking and rocking that it puts him to sleep.  

13.) I play guitar. I used to play ALL THE TIME and lead worship when I was on staff with my church. I still take it out and dust it off every now and then, but it hurts because I have don’t calluses on my fingertips anymore.

14.) I used to be a youth pastor and ran a youth group for 5 years!!! The best times of our lives were spent up at church camp (Diamond Arrow!! 🌲) with some of the best people I’ll ever know. I’ve got life long friends that I met serving at camp. Now, many of my “kids” have grown up and become my friends! It’s weird and makes me feel super old, but it’s very awesome. 

15.) I love to cook. And I love food. That’s kind of the problem. That’s why I had to embrace a life of health and fitness and learn how to workout!!! Hahaha! 🌮🍔🍦🍾🍻🍷🍿🎂🍕🌭🍝🍪🍩🍟🌯 

16.) I was born and raised here in Reno, Nevada, but I’ve never been to Las Vegas!!?!! Road trip? 

17.) I have several nicknames. Probably too many to list here, but I’ll share a couple. My nickname that my family and oldest friends call me is “Mans”. My work/gym family calls me “Mandiesel” which has been shortened to “Dies”…which is funny to explain to people who have no idea. 😜🙈 I feel lucky to have so many nicknames, it represents lots of live, fun times and inside jokes! I can’t complain. 

18.) I miss my grandma everyday. She died 5 months before my wedding in 2014 and there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think of her, and wonder what she’d say about the different events in our lives. She would have LOVED my kids. 💘

19.) I have the LOUDEST most obnoxious laugh. 😩🙈 When I really get going, I can’t help it and I just absolutely cackle. It’s very embarrassing! 

20.) I have 4 tattoos. One of them being a butterfly on the top of my foot that my brother started on me before my weight loss journey began…and I am waiting to have him finish it until I reach my goal weight. 

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. 310 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.  

  

 

 

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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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