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. 😜

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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. 

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. 🙂

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. 

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.  
 

Fat chick attempting to kayak

Even after a life changing year, huge strides in my physical abilities and strength, 70 pounds lost (so far) and a new lease on life and fitness gained…I am still fat. 

Yep. Still fat. 

When I leave the comfortable bubble that is my home where my husband loves me and treats me like Beyonce, or my supportive and amazing gym where I am treated like a rock star, I still have to live in the real world where I am still obese and have 100 more pounds to lose. It can be jarring to feel my baby confidence that has just taken flight, crash to the ground where I have to find the will to try and build it up again. The old me never saw the point.  

My pesky social anxiety sneaks back in at times and starts to whisper in my ear…”You’re still the same. You don’t belong here. Who do you think you are?” 

 And the paranoia of wondering if the people at another table are snickering at me and my “bigness” trying desperately to melt into normalcy, praying no one will consider me a target for a good joke? 

Still happens. 

 I’m learning to not let these things be the TRUTH about who I am anymore. Strangers who don’t know me or all I’ve accomplished on my journey do not get to be the “sayers” of who I am.  

The tragedy is when I tear my confidence down MYSELF.  
WHY DO WE SO THIS TO OURSELVES? HOW CAN WE LEARN TO BE KIND TO OUR OWN SELF? 
This is the biggest lesson I’m trying to learn right now.  

Yesterday, I went on a kayaking trip with my gym friends. Having never participated in any “outdoorsy” type of adventure, I took a leap of faith and tried. I was scared to death and exhilarated all at the same time, praying the life jacket would buckle, (check)…praying I would be able to get in the kayak and not break it (check)…praying I wouldn’t slow everyone down and be a terrible nuisance (check, I hope). 
When I finally managed to get the hang of it and not fear wobbling and sinking to my death in the middle of the lake, I silently and privately rejoiced and thanked God. Here I was still 300ish pounds DOING THE DANG THANG. Such a cool feeling, to allow yourself to be proud of what you were able to overcome.

And then….THE PICTURES. 

FML if pictures aren’t gonna be the death of me and all of my efforts.  

How is it that seeing myself in pictures from this beautiful day almost ruined my entire night, and put me in such a funk that I actually had to step back and check myself? 

I was so disappointed that I didn’t look in those pictures the way that I FELT. 

And you know what? 

WHO CARES? 

I have an incredible life. God has given me a second chance at living by blessing me with the strength and dedication to change my life. I’ll get to where I need to be…in the meantime? How dare I have anything but gratitude for this body I have and/or its reflection? 

So here I am, in a kayak. 

  

I don’t want skinny. I want ABLE.

  
The past couple of weeks I have been in a slump. While I have been keeping up with my workouts, I have been eating out of bounds and those tiny allowances started to stack up and show themselves.  
Pretty soon, I started feeling those old, negative thoughts and feelings start to take over. Not wanting to backslide into my old ways, I did some some soul searching.  
I’ll confess that I had an expectation to be down 100lbs by now, and since I’m only down 65lbs  I started pouting and doubting.  Risking all my progress because I didn’t get what I wanted. Throwing a fit like a big, prideful baby. 

Wtf? 

When I began writing this blog in 2013, it was in “the pursuit of a meaningful makeover”. I wanted to make a change in my life but didn’t know where to start, and I didn’t want it to be focused on JUST a number on a scale.  So I started typing.  Writing has always come naturally to me and been a therapeutic friend.  

I named the blog “Realology” because I wanted to be REAL in the study and discovery of myself, after being lost so long to depression and the LIE of who I thought I was, or was supposed to be.  

I had an EXPECTATION in my mind of what a good Christian woman, wife and mother was supposed to be and look like. After years of “trying” and falling short, (of the EXPECTATION!) and the subsequent feelings of failure and self loathing that led me to gain an extra 200lbs on my body…I reached my bottom. 

Since then, I have struggled to untie spiritual, relational, and personal knots in my heart and focus on my faith instead of all my fears.  

It hasn’t been easy at all. 

This has not been a slow and steady marathon. 

 
This has been a rugged, off road, uphill trek for my life.

 
There has been blood, sweat and many tears.  

Many shameful moments of backsliding and stumbling.  

Moments of pure embarrassment and inadequacy.  

I have also dragged myself through thick fear, doubt, jealousy, pride, and self pity.  

But I didn’t quit. 

By the grace of God, I kept going. 

I’m not at the top. Still climbing. 

Who knows when I will get there? 

Who cares?

“EXPECTATIONS are premeditated disappointments”.

Once again, I find myself surrendering my expectations. Letting go, and trusting LOVE, instead of fear.   

In a few days I will be celebrating my one year of fitness milestone. On August 22nd of last year I walked through the doors of my gym and my life has changed dramatically.

I refuse to be be disappointed because of a number.  What I’ve gained and lost can’t be measured.  

I don’t want skinny. I want able. 

That is my new mantra. My battle cry for the next year ahead of me.   Yes, I want the weight loss, but I want to RUN.  I want to JUMP. I want to DO the things I can’t yet do.  I want to be ABLE. 

I’m already able to do so much more than I thought possible.  I can’t wait to see what’s ahead. 
Thank you for going on this journey with me, and for all of the support.  It has been a true gift. 

#bingealert 

If you know me, you know I love, love, LOVE social media. I tend to over use it almost as much as I over use emoji. WordPress for blogging and Facebook and Instagram for everything else. Social media has been so much fun for an extrovert like me. It has acted as lifeline to the outside adult world a few years ago, when I was doing home daycare and stuck in my home with growing depression. It has helped me get to know and keep in touch with many cousins, friends and acquaintances that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I love that! 
On Instagram and WordPress, I have even bonded with and established genuine friendships with strangers that are on the same journey as me! I have put my heart out here and told the truth and allowed it to be up for public viewing (and scrutiny if need be) and have received nothing but love and encouragement.  

Being a writer type, I found it especially therapeutic to document and work through all the ups and downs of this endeavor through writing. The physical, mental, and spiritual ebb and flow of my my life, available to anyone who cared. I am honored that anyone would want to continue to read it because really, everyone has a story and point of view and mine in not remarkably different than anyone else’s. So, thank you! 

I have been able to celebrate many successes on my weight loss journey here, but there have also been dark days. In the name of staying honest and transparent, today is one of those days that calls for confession. 
I totally lost my mind and had an ugly food binge day today.
I hardly slept. I woke up grumpy.  
The first thing I did when I came downstairs was grab a handful of Hershey chocolate chips out of my freezer and shovel them in my mouth…it was all downhill from there.  
The more I grazed and ate, the worse I felt. 
 Guilty. Lazy. Gross.  
About an hour ago I decided to stop the madness and “feel the feelings” I was trying to ignore with eating all day. I really wanted to get to the root of what triggered me today (besides waking up on the wrong side of the bed!) and share it here.  
THIS is real life. 
I am a real woman, changing my life.  
This isn’t some filtered and cropped social media thread.  
This is real.  
That is the ugly side of social media.  

I’ve learned the right angle to take a picture and like to highlight all the good food choices I make and hard workouts completed. It feels good! It’s cool when you get followers or people “like” your photos.  To be able to show how my life is changing is amazing and I’m proud of myself.  

But it’s too easy to let it go to your head sometimes and WAY TO EASY to leave out the shameful, shoveling my face with food that I don’t need or really want moments.  
To hide feeling bad about myself and letting that be an excuse to eat like a jerk for a few more hours. Then, the temptation to be crazy and come up with ways to “overcompensate” my “bad” behavior.  
That, my friends, is dis-ordered eating.  
I’m here this afternoon to call myself out.  
Just because I have been blessed to enjoy some success on this journey doesn’t mean I’m “in the clear”. I have been fortunate to be able to grab ahold of my life this past year and have some progress to show for it, but by no means am I an expert. I’m not “fixed”. I am just a real person, struggling to be free of food addiction and gain a fit and healthy life.   
I want to enjoy food and not be afraid of it controlling me. I want to workout because I love my body and love how strong I am getting, not because I feel need to punish myself. 
I guess the whole reason I wanted to write this is because, on social media people can really make it look so easy to make theses changes. We all all put our best foot forward and show our best selves and it could be really easy not to post the unflattering pics and unwise choices.  
This will be my struggle for the rest of my life, but everyday I feel stronger and stronger and more able to share the good, bad and ugly.  If you are struggling with these kinds of issues, please don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to someone you trust! You don’t have to hide or punish yourself!  We are strong and capable of so much more than we know! 

So, now I’m gonna have lots of water, something crisp and fresh for dinner that I can feel good about, and maybe go for a walk.  
But, most importantly I am moving on.
    

  

It’s gonna be a good year 

Last year around my birthday I wrote a poem called “Reining it in”.  
I remember exactly how I felt writing it. I had just returned from working at church camp and had gone from feeling pretty good about myself for getting through it, to spiraling into self loathing. My binge eating was out of control and my weight was the highest it had ever been in my life.  
My body was in pain, everything hurt and the only thing that was consistent was the urge to sleep.  

I could feel myself slipping back into a dark place of depression and I was trying really hard to be strong and pull back. I thought making myself sit down and be intentional about writing down how it felt would help me and be cathartic. This poem emerged and was an honest look at myself inside and out.  

 I didn’t know it then, but this was the beginning of “thinking about what I was thinking about” and changing the way I live my life.  
Here is an excerpt from that poem: 

“The hardest thing about being a realist is that you’re really only a pessimist in disguise.
To halt myself from traveling down the familiar gloomy tracks and force instead a stroll down a brighter path…
Well, I’m more comfortable sitting in the shade.
My disappointment hangs from my body,
heavy and always inconvenient.
Protecting me from pain but hard to
ignore…and if I’m being honest it only makes it worse.
But I am told to be in the light as He is in the light…
and I was.
Spent the fullness of time feeling welcomed and alive.
Now here we are again, and back to being the last resort.
Wasn’t quite ready to come home to the norm.
I have amends to make and bridges to burn, like calories…and we all know how good I am at that.
Frames and galleries of words that crowd my heart, and the space is getting limited in these chambers.
Bolted with hardware and welded to my arteries. 
This kind of blockage requires a skilled surgeon. 


Blood pumping through paths I’ve carved out to survive.
A masterpiece.

A bypass of emotion.
Today is a new day that has been made for my gain,
taking a new route and a fresh way.
I will choose gratitude.
What other choice do I have?” 

The heaviness and “congestion” I was suffering from was physical, mental and spiritual. I had spent a lifetime “eating” up my emotions and trying not to FEEL THE FEELINGS. I really had reached my bottom. I felt like I was either going to make a change or die this way. 

Since last summer my life has shifted dramatically, but it didn’t seem that way every day, until looking back on it now.  
Every day I was (and am still!) presented with a choice: believe in the commitment I made to myself and my family? 
Believe I could change and WAS changing?  
Believe that where I had no strength to continue, God would give it to me? 
Believe that when I fell off the wagon, He would set me back on? 
Believe that my body was strong and getting stronger, even when it felt like I could NOT do more? 

Or…

Believe it was impossible and slip back into what I’d always done? Numbing myself with food and trying desperately to not feel all the pain I was causing myself? 
  

Today is my birthday and I have had the rare privilege of being able to say that I have been given a second chance at living life. The life I was meant to live. I’m officially down 60 pounds. I work out 6 days a week and I actually enjoy being there and seeing my hard work pay off and my body gain strength and endurance. I’ve been allowed to start and lead a support group at my amazing gym, to build community with people who are starting their own health journey.  
I’ve been back to camp and was amazed by how much more I could do and how much more like myself I felt, not being at war against my body anymore. I’ve had the honor of being an example to not only my own children but also to youth kids who’ve seen me make a change over this past year. It feels amazing to be able to show them that this kind of freedom is possible.  
Freedom from self abuse and self hate. Freedom to FEEL THE FEELINGS! I’ve learned that being sad, or disappointed or stressed won’t kill me. It’s how we manage and deal with the feelings that makes us or breaks us.
Looking forward to what this next year has for me! From where I’m sitting, it can only get better and better! 

When you wish upon a star


 

 “You know, any wish is possible. All it takes is a little courage to set it free.” – Jiminy Cricket 

When I was little, I used to look out my window and find the brightest star I could and make wishes. I was quite a dramatic kid. It makes sense now knowing that I’ve been a sensitive artist type all along, always leaning toward the whimsical and romantic. 

I used to wear my Grandmas satin nightgowns and high heels for dress up and imagine I was a princess or some fancy rich lady. I would go into her backyard, and remember feeling like it was an enchanted garden, where I was the center of everything wonderful. I used to constantly daydream and pretend.   
I’ll confess, as corny as it is to admit…I still do. I think that is why I have such an obsession with Disney, it allows me to reach into that place in my heart that still believes in magic. 
A wish is a “desire or hope for something to happen”. How many thousands of wishes have we had so far in our lives? 
How many of them have come true, unnoticed or forgotten about?
As we become adults our skeptical nature outgrew our ability to believe in wishes.  

Experience left us jaded.

Doubtful. 

Bitter.  

We learned that we must be responsible and realistic. We learn to rely on judgment and sometimes sarcasm to survive. Packaging up all of our hurts and disappointments from our childhood and carrying them around with us through life, waiting to find a place to set them down and rest.  
Some of us found a resting place in our friends, careers, and family life. Some found it in romance, accomplishment or a certain faith.  
But at some point, our little hearts grew hardened and we stopped believing. Finding that place to rest and catch our breath has become the goal of this life in some ways.  

Some of us do it well, and we find some contentment. While some of us crash and burn again and again. 

“Children are happy because they don’t have a file in their minds called “all the things that can go wrong”.”            -Marianne Williamson   

 

For me, it showed itself in my body. The bigger I got and the more I would eat to find “rest”…I lost the belief that I was special and made for any special reason.  
Even after I found my true love and got married. Even after I experienced the joy of becoming a mother. Even after I poured my whole heart into my faith and truth as I understood it, I still felt unworthy and discontent. I didn’t believe that it was possible for me to be the me that I wanted to be, and that I felt was created to be.  
I put up a front for a long time. Doing all the “right” things that I thought I was “supposed” to do, all the while believing that there was no use. I was destined to fail and live with a certain level of misery.

And then I began to believe it could be different. 

While on vacation last week at Disney World, I found myself reminded again and again of the power of what we BELIEVE.

I know, I know, it’s cheesy but I can’t help it! God speaks to us in all kinds of ways. During the fireworks performance at the Magic Kingdom, I was overwhelmed with gratitude when I heard Jiminy Cricket say, “You know any wish is possible. All it takes is a little courage to set it free.”  

Gratitude for all the ways that my life has changed from one little moment of courage. 
Gratitude is the secret path back to believing in magic.  
We are blessed beyond what we can even fathom on a day to day basis.  
The air we breathe, the water we drink, the opportunities, the compliments, the genuine friendships and relationships and ultimately the choice, again and again to choose LOVE instead of FEAR.  
Every single day of my vacation as I walked and walked and WALKED some more, I found myself saying thank you. My body was able to take me all over the place and endure the many hours of walking in the Florida heat. My body has changed for sure, but I know it had to begin in my mind. 

“Do not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you which is GOOD and pleasing and perfect.” – Romans 12:2 NLT 



http://youtu.be/cRIzFNeEMqs

 

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