Fat Chick at a Fitness Conference: Third Time is a Charm

“ You can’t build a house of leaves and live like its an evergreen. Its just a season thing, its just this thing the seasons do. And thats the way this wheel keeps working now….I believe that my life is gonna see…the love I give return back to me. “ -John Mayer, Wheel

Im on a plane watching us line up for take off, out the window.

My heart is full.

I look around at all of my friends, getting settled, laughing and joking. We are as comfortable together as family, and this trip has earned us even more memories, and a deeper appreciation for each other. I take in the moment, knowing this trip has been something special, that I will only ever share with THESE people.

It can’t ever happen again.

Its been raining almost the whole time we’ve been here in Louisville, Kentucky for our annual Anytime Fitness conference. Thick with humid, drizzly, southern weather. A blanket of dark clouds and rain rolled in and settled on top of us that first day while we were in the hotel pool, and stayed the entire time. Though, it only seemed to add more excitement and energetic ambiance to our trip…sprinkling everything with magic, making it all feel more special.

I sit back with my headphones on as we take off, and watch us lift up over all of the wet, green trees of a city that I barely saw…but will be FORVER branded onto my heart.

The plane lifts into the air until we are surrounded by white. Higher and higher we climb, above the rain and clouds. And just as if we were emerging from another world, we rise completely above everything, into a beautifully clear evening sky, and level out onto the flight path that will take us home. Headed back to the west coast, toward a golden sunset that is just starting to show itself, I take in a deep breath of gratitude.

It feels quiet, clean, and crisp…and for whatever reason, this seems to be the moment that all of my emotions, that I’ve kept politely poised in the back of my heart, want to erupt and take over. I realize I am finally alone to feel the weight of everything that has just happened to me this week. I am overwhelmed as my eyes well with tears that I cannot stop. I tuck myself in to hide between my sweatshirt and the window.

“Now?!” I think to myself.

Always on planes.

Planes are holy for me I guess.

Not a distraction in sight to keep me from sorting through my thoughts. My heart swells with gratitude as my heart and mind race through how far I’ve come…and my tears…fall like rain.

The first time I boarded a plane two years ago to attend an Anytime Fitness conference, I was scared to death, but the reward was stepping out and facing my fear to come back stronger.

(The blog post I wrote that year: https://mandimonblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/fat-chick-at-a-fitness-conference/ )

The second year, I was FREE. Confident. Felt I had earned the right to belong there, and jumped in with both feet and was able to completely BE MYSELF.

We came home celebrating our legendary bosses/owners with the O2i, Owner of the Year, award and I truly never thought that anything could come close to how I felt on that plane ride home from Palm Springs!

I was fired up for my LIFE, and ready to take on whatever the next year of leadership would have for me.

(The blog post I wrote last year:

https://mandimonblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/19/attitude-is-everything-fat-chick-at-a-fitness-conference-2-0/ )

Not knowing this last year would be my MOST challenging yet.

Not knowing…I would face doubt, failures, disappointments, and hard and uncomfortable conversations. Being let down and letting other people down myself, then learning how to rebuild again. Earning trust and continuously earning the RIGHT to lead, and be an example, to those who look up to me and believe in me.

Not knowing…my own fitness journey would take a nose dive this year as a result of MANY different factors, that would require DEEP and honest soul searching to salvage. Integrity to KEEP GOING when it got hard, and the DECISION to do WHATEVER I needed to do to keep going in the right direction.

Not knowing…the amount of perseverance I would have to muster this past year, to survive and thrive in this season of GROWTH, would be SO hard to find and hold onto.

True growth is HARD y’all. Just like when you start working out in the gym! You want certain results, but when it gets hard, and you’re forced to truly meet yourself…you have to DECIDE to stay in the discomfort and push through…or walk away…and thankfully, I am surrounded by people who wont let me walk away.

And certainly NOT knowing…the next time I’d board a plane to head to our conference, I’d be coming home with the award for H2i (manager) of the year.

Represent a possibility.

That is a note I wrote to myself last year after conference. And I believe that is exactly what I get to do everyday.

Tess Holiday is a plus size model who was on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine two weeks ago, in a swimsuit. It was VERY controversial because of her size. All kinds of arguments were stirred up online. How/why should she be celebrated on the cover of a major magazine being THAT overweight? What about her health? While I definitely have strong reservations about certain aspects of the “body positivity movement” as a whole, (that is a completely different blog post!) I thought it was VERY cool that someone my size could represent the possibility that fashion and beauty can be for everyBODY. That, no matter your size or where you are at in your journey, you have the right to feel and look beautiful.

On a much smaller scale…I have the absolute honor of working for Anytime Fitness, where my journey represents fitness for everyBODY.

My journey, and MANY OTHERS, represents that IT IS POSSIBLE. Even when it seems too hard!!! No matter your size, or where you are at in your journey. You have the RIGHT to feel safe from judgement, supported and LOVED. You have the RIGHT to discover what your body CAN do and how much better you can FEEL, so that you can live your life to the fullest!! You have the RIGHT to take up space and BELONG in our clubs, so that we can help you MAKE HEALTHY HAPPEN!

I am not just in the fitness business, I am in the self esteem business.

I am in the love business.

The love that I have been lucky enough to give out freely and passionately to my members and loved ones is because that is the SAME love that has pushed ME!!!

And I felt it all return back to me…on that stage in Louisville, KY.

Being honored with this award, with my entire team by my side, after this crazy journey I’ve been on…is nothing short of a miracle. And, it’s only the beginning.

I am so, extremely honored and grateful for this recognition, and I will strive and continue to PERSIST and earn this, every damn day.

THANK YOU. 💜

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Big Girl Job

When I started my blog five years ago, I never would’ve dreamed my writing would be lucky enough to be featured on anything bigger than my own dang Facebook page, let alone shared by anyone else!

This month I got the honor and privilege of getting to write for the Anytime Fitness employee dashboard about what it might be like for those who may have just started their fitness journeys in January. To help give coaches a peek at what its like on the “other side”.

HOW COOL IS THAT?!?!! 😍💘

Of course, my post was LONG WINDED.

If you’ve read my blog before, you know I get REAL passionate, and my posts can be long. On a personal blog where I have no boundaries, its easy to do! So I got to learn how/practice how to take my idea and condense it in a way that was easier for peeps to read and apply. It was such an amazing opportunity to have a “big girl” writing assignment about something I’m passionate about, for a company Im obsessed to be working for.

So I thought I would still post my original piece here, in my own little blog world, where it can live forever as a part of my writing/fitness journey, forever and ever, amen.

“A Gym Newbie’s Perspective”

I was asked recently, “What was the ONE THING you experienced in the gym that made you keep coming back after you first joined?” After some thought I replied, “a sense of belonging.”

Despite the obvious feels that we know a newbie might have their first few weeks in the gym, there’s one feeling that stands out to me as being the most crippling to someone who is trying to embark on a healthy lifestyle change; and that is loneliness.

For someone like me who had 100+ pounds to lose, or someone who might have other health concerns that seem overwhelming, feeling alone can make a hard job seem impossible. I truly believe it is the most important thing to remember when you’re sitting across the table from a new member, for the first time.

In the Gym

The first way people can feel lonely is just learning how to navigate inside the gym! This one is obvious, but even if they’ve had a detailed tour and amazing FC with their new coach, new members can still feel unsure of where to begin and probably won’t ask until they feel “safe”.

They will stick with what is the least likely to draw any attention or eyeballs.

One of my biggest fears when I joined was that someone was going to be filming me and my body, without my knowledge and post it online. I was terrified to become a “gym fail” video. That is a very REAL fear for new peeps, and something that I try hard not to re-post or give a spotlight to on my social media, no matter how funny they are.

Working hard to create a club culture that is warm, welcoming, and inclusive to everyone is what makes Anytime Fitness so special! The community vibe we all strive for is what helps people feel like they are in a safe place and that they belong…and when they relax in that, they can get to work!

In Their Social Circle

The second way people can feel lonely as they embark on their new health and fitness journey, is within their social groups and families.

Breaking away from bad habits and trying to create a new heathy lifestyle can feel ESPECIALLY lonesome if you’re the only one in your family or friend group committed to making changes. It can feel overwhelming and exhausting to stay strong when the people you love can be sabotaging you, without even realizing it.

From time to time, it’s easy to identify an unsupportive spouse, or jealous and nay-saying friends. But one of the hardest things new peeps will have to learn to face is themselves. Often, eating and sharing a meal with loved ones is THE last social activity overweight and/or obese people can participate in. It’s MORE than just food. If someone has reached a point, like I had, where they cannot join in many of the other activities that make them feel connected to others as a human…breaking bread is all they feel they’ve got left.  This has been the hardest part for me to re-learn.  Giving up certain foods or learning moderation does not affect my connection with others, but this takes time, practice and climbing back up on the wagon…again and again.

In Their Own Skin

The last and most important way people can feel lonely as they start their fitness journey is actually in their own skin.  I had spent so much time disconnecting my mind from my body, trying to ignore how bad I had allowed myself to become. When I finally began to workout with my trainer, having to learn how to connect with and be aware of my body to move it was painfully humiliating at first! Being the size that I was, and not knowing how to properly dress my body for the work I was asking it to do, took time and confidence. There were many times my shirt would roll up and my belly would be exposed, or my pants wouldn’t cooperate and roll down…I was a hot mess.  Luckily, she was always quick to modify what she was asking me to do so that I wouldn’t get frustrated and want to quit. Over time, I lost some weight and built the confidence that I needed to finally start to feel comfortable and less lonely in my skin.  I’m so grateful for those who took the time to care, coach and connect with me.  It changed my life forever!

So, if there’s one thing I hope you can take away from my experiences, as your schedule is likely filled with back to back appointments, consultations, and sessions and you feel your energy starting to dip…please remember that the person sitting across from you might be feeling the loneliest they’ve ever felt in their whole life, but have been brave enough to show up.  Giving you the opportunity of a lifetime!

The Tale of the Evil Scale 

  

Well, today I’m confessing.   

I’ve been struggling.  

Stepping on the scale after every visit to my bathroom in hopes of some kind of validation of all my hard word work is CRAZZZY , and if I’m being fully transparent…it is EXACTLY what my trainer has asked me NOT to do.  
But I’ve done it anyway, trying to surprise myself with a surprise moment of victory.  
The scale is an insidious object.   I’ve been a mad woman, obsessing and feeling sorry for myself because of it.    A dangerous mental attitude for me to allow when that is the very thing that spiraled me into depression and caused this whole mess in the first place.  It creates the perfect climate and conditions for setting myself up for a binge eating episode.  The kind of binge where my eyes turn black like a shark, and all clarity is thrown from the windows.  Vast amounts of calories are consumed in a shameful and violent fury, like wild animals captured on tv pouncing on prey. 
 Self pity can seduce me into a wide range of poor decisions.  
No.  I cannot allow one more day of obsessing over what the scale says, being disappointed and feeling sorry for myself.   
I’ve been teetering between the same 10 pounds, up and down, and never breaking past my loss of 48.  
Wanting SO BADLY to cross over that threshold to share this list that I’ve been compiling on the notepad of my phone for weeks.  A list of all the ways my life has changed.  Instead of celebrating these things, I’ve been BUMMING OUT.  
Doubting myself. 
So this morning I ask myself,”Why do I have to wait for an “official”  -50 pounds to share how much my life has changed in the past 6 months?” 
Why am I letting the scale have this much power over me?  Why am I NOT listening to my trainer who obviously knows what she is talking about? (LOL 😝) 
Is that number on the scale representing all of the days I’ve honored my commitment to myself and shown up at the gym?  Does that number represent all the good choices I’ve made with my eating? All the days I’ve spent meal prepping and faithfully logging macros on MFP?  Does the number on the scale define my worth as a wife, mother, or woman? Can it capture my value as a human being created by a loving God and display THAT on its screen? 
That number doesn’t represent anything other than how much my body, filled with muscles, fat, water and waste weighs.  It doesn’t measure my hustle or heart.  
So, in honor of myself and the hard work that I deserve to celebrate…here is my list of the top 16 ways my life has changed for the better in the past 6 months:  
*I am on top of all the busy work in my house.  Cleaning, laundry, meals…my energy seems to be soaring and I’m able to once again take care of business around here without feeling overwhelmed. 
*Touched my toes for the first time since probably high school? So cool.  
*I can wrap a towel all the way around me.  A large beach towel…but it goes all the way around now.  
*I can use any bathroom stall…not have to wait for the large, handicapped one. 
*I can shave my legs without fear of a near death experience every time.  
*I’m not desperate for the closest parking spot when I go grocery shopping.  Everyday activities and demands have gotten so much easier.  
*I can paint my toenails again. 
*Sit closer to steering wheel! 
*I can wear jeans again.  Albeit the largest pair in my closet, but for the past two years those didn’t fit me at all.  Now they do. 
*I can play with (WANT TO) play with my kids and dog in the afternoons.
*I am able to straiten my hair and/or wear makeup if I chose to because I am no longer sweating profusely just from having a heart beat.  I used to sweat just from the act of using a straitener…the heat mixed with my size turned into a humid frizzy mess. Avoided almost exclusively. 
*I am able to run up my stairs to grab something without fear of cardiac arrest. 
*Married life activities have stepped up a notch.  Yeah, I said it.  It’s always been spicy…😉 but it’s like a whole new, uncharted world over here!  (Sorry Dad!) 
*I was able to sit at a booth with my family at a restaurant.  A BOOTH.  I squeezed into a booth.  If you have ever been fat, you know the terror of being seated in a booth.  
*I’m sleeping better. 
Dear GOD IN HEAVEN, I’m sleeping so much better!
*And the best one, I am doing things in the gym that I NEVER would have believed I’d ever be able to do.  My strength and endurance is gaining daily and I am so proud of myself.  I’ve put in hard work and if it isn’t showing itself on the scale, it certainly shows itself during my workouts.  
There you have it.  
My life has been transformed in the past 6-7 months and I almost missed out on the celebration because of the dumb scale.  
My hubs has been threatening to hide it from me and today I think I might actually let him! 
 

Welcome to the real world

I’m writing from the road this morning so this will be short and sweet. We have traveled to California to watch my youngest sister graduate from high school tonight. The next few days will surely be filled with loud family fun. I am so grateful for my family. My time spent with them always recharges me even though it can often be exhausting at the same time.

Graduations are interesting. You can’t help but feel nostalgic and reflect on what has been…and ultimately what will be. I’ve learned that this process of stepping forward into something new and unknown will only continue way beyond this graduation point in my sisters life. It seems we never stop moving into that “next phase” whatever it may be. My hopes and wishes for her and all my siblings is that they realize THIER AWESOME potential. Each one of them is so amazingly talented and gifted in a unique way. My prayer is that that would leave no dream un-imagined or tried. That they would learn to become comfortable in their skin and be exactly who they were created to be. Living fully. Loving abundantly. Happy.

To my youngest sister on her special day, the one thing I want you to always know is that you’re amazing. You have the wild world ahead of you at your fingertips and there isn’t anything you can’t do. We are all so proud of you! Love you Wawa! Long live the sister couch!

#Repost @anytimefitness_northreno with @get_repost ・・・ Dig DEEP!! 💪🏽🔥 WHAT is the PURPOSE behind each key swipe into the gym? Each minute you push yourself through your cardio instead of letting yourself off easy and stopping. Each rep you lift with weights, even when it burns and you’re sore? WHY did you decide to start this journey in the first place? WHAT is the reason you got up and DID THE THING, when your alarm went off today? What is your WHY? . . Maybe it’s more than your pant size or a number on the scale? Maybe its because you KNOW those pants feel and look better when you’re wearing them with confidence? Maybe its because you no longer have to be embarrassed of being winded when you’re out being active with your family? Maybe its because you have things you LOVE to do that you weren’t able to do before...but have been able to work hard and give that back to yourself? Maybe its because you haven’t able to fully look in the mirror and like you what you see...but something about keeping your promise to yourself and finishing each work out is getting you closer and closer to be being able to? Find the REASON. Find your why. FIND YOUR PURPOSE and you will will AMAZE yourself at how far you can go! 🔥💪🏽 Share yours and tag someone below who will remind you! . . “What makes you special is your ability to discover and THRIVE in your purpose, despite your past hurts, pain and disappointments.” -Mastin Kipp, “Claim Your Power” . . #whatisyourwhywednesday #letsmakehealthyhappen #teamborden
>>New adventure<<

&andshelivedhappilyeverafter

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