Joyful and Triumphant

My good ol, faithful “highest weight pic” here on the left, was taken on stage at church camp the summer of 2014, right before I had the courage to join Anytime Fitness North Reno. (Here is the link to the original blog post I wrote back then: https://mandimonblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/05/update-of-the-year/ ) The picture on the right was last weekend, celebrating the holidays with my family in California.

That church camp picture was the one that pushed me. I couldn’t believe that it was me. I began my journey from that point, and over the course of 4 years, I busted my ass and lost 120lbs!

Then…I stalled and yo-yo’d. Again and again. Back and fourth in a miserable cycle of lose it and gain it. And, despite my best efforts in the gym, my food choices/emotional eating habits helped me slowly and painfully gain BACK almost 70lbs.

What followed were some absolute meltdowns. Despair, and an urge to quit fitness and feel sorry for myself. The complete DEATH of my pride. How do you lose over 100lbs and let it all start to creep back up AGAIN?

Well…I learned that it happens!!!!

LIFE HAPPENS!

And it happens a LOT.

The pursuit of health and fitness is not a simple, one-path-fits-all adventure. In fact, I can relate WAY more to people now, than I could before. I had never felt what it feels like to work so hard to get fit, only to lose it when I “know better”.

But, now I do.

As I know SO MANY other people do too!! I was surely humbled. It takes a different kind of motivation to get BACK on track and try AGAIN. I was also forced to face the fact that no amount of exercise can cure disordered eating.

So, I made the hardest decision of my life to have #vsg surgery in July, (that also DOES NOT CURE DISORDERED EATING!) but, what it has done, is helped me slowwwwww wayyyyyyy down, and given me a chance to literally rebuild my relationship with food.

I am so grateful to be fortunate enough to have access to an opportunity like that!!! It has helped me to stop sabotaging all of my hard work, and move in the right direction again.

I am officially 6 months post-op this month, and have lost 72lbs!!! Which means I have come FULL circle to where I was before, but with a whole new perspective and appreciation. My body is thanking me. My workouts are FUN again. Im feeling truly amazing and am SO grateful.

I used to think that #wls was a copout or shortcut. I was making judgements about something I knew NOTHING about. Im sharing all of this because I have always been honest about my journey, and making that decision has been one of the BEST decisions of my life.

Pride wasn’t helping me build the healthy body and lifestyle I had been working for. I am so thankful for this crazy journey Ive been on.

Had that girl on the stage at church camp in 2014 known what was ahead for her…she would NEVER have believed it!! But I AM SO PROUD OF HER FOR STARTING.

Wow. What a wild ride.

And now, with fresh gratitude, passion, and CONFIDENCE…I am ready to embrace everything that is ahead.

Bring it, 2019!

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. 💜

My 100th Post

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Today I am celebrating my 100th post on Realology!

For the past 6 months I have been writing Monday through Friday in an attempt to follow my dream of being a writer. Also, it has been a great way to focus all of my thoughts and struggles with faith, self acceptance, friendship, motherhood, wifedom and generally all things that I have come across in my life.

I have made new friends here in the WordPress world and I have also been surprised by some of my unexpected friends in the real world who have risen up to support me on this journey. I would just like to take this time to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all of you who have taken the time to read my musings. It’s very humbling to know that there are so many of you who care about what I am writing about. A few of you read EVERY DAY and I am absolutely baffled at what a gift of love that is. Thank you, thank you for your continued support.

A special thanks to my wonderful husband who reads daily and gives me full creative license to share some intimate details about the lives we share. I so appreciate the fact that he is confident in me and urges me to be true and real. His daily encouragement of my writing makes me feel invincible…like there isn’t anything I couldn’t do if I wanted to. I am truly the luckiest gal.

With that being said, according to my WordPress stats, these are the 5 most popular posts on my blog so far. It’s nice to read through them as a reminder of the journey I am still on. Thanks for being along for the ride!

Under a microscope | Realology
https://mandimonblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/under-a-microscope/

Pretty | Realology
https://mandimonblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/pretty/

I am | Realology
https://mandimonblog.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/i-am/

Say cheese! | Realology
https://mandimonblog.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/say-cheese/

Uncharted Territory | Realology
https://mandimonblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/65/

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Blood thicker than water?

Posting a little later today than I would have liked. I’ve been getting used to blogging first thing in the morning, so thanks for being a gracious audience out there in the land of blog subscriptions.

This month is turning out to be kinda crazy!! We have the holiday this week, birthdays ( my dad and I are both on the 6th and 5th). My cousin is getting married in a couple weeks and the day after we are having a HUGE family reunion, which I am sort of in charge of. So, I spent the morning doing wedding and reunion stuff and running around with my cousin and all of our kids. It has been fun hanging out with her and some of my other cousins lately while trying to prepare for these summer events. Lots of hours logged face to face and on the phone that would not have happened otherwise. It’s funny how you drift apart over time. We were all pretty close growing up and have since spread out and started living our own lives. The more time goes by, the more akward it is to make connections. But, the more we’ve done it over the past year, the richer and more meaningful it becomes.
I imagine my Grandma looking on, watching all us girls getting to know each other as adults and growing closer and being proud. I imagine she would have hoped we’d be close friends and that our babies would grow up playing with each other like we all did. Gosh, I miss her everyday. She would have loved to see us all grown and meet our kids. I wish I would have known how special my time with her was before she was gone. Isn’t that THE hardest lesson to learn?

I know that all families go through close times and distant times. Seasons change right?

For the longest time, my extended family was so distant I never thought there would be a chance to reconnect, but here we are. It really makes you stop and reevaluate what’s important. Friends really come and go, but there is something about sharing blood, genes and a family name that weave you together with others. Sometimes that is a blessing, sometimes it isn’t.

So, I’ll just take a moment today to thank God for weaving me into a bigger picture. Life can so easily become self- centered and demand our full attention inward. Im happy to be on the cusp of something new and fresh with my family. Something exciting and outside of myself yet connecting me to who I am and where I come from. The peace and confidence of knowing that no matter where you are or what you’re doing you BELONG somewhere. The older I get, the more I realize that this is a luxury not afforded to everyone. I intend on taking full advantage.

In the spirit of weddings and reunions I’m posting a quintessential song to enjoy along with this post! Enjoy! 🙂

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