Coldest Before the Sunrise

Two months ago I posted about my journey down a hard road that led to my decision to go ahead with gastric sleeve/weight loss surgery. Making that kind of life changing, and permanent decision was NOT easy. I was scared. Scared of the actual procedure, and doing something SO permanent to my body…and mostly, scared of what EVERYONE would think of me for making that decision. As much as I hate to admit it…the fear of letting people down, especially everyone in this fitness world I love, with people who have grown to respect me and support me whole heartedly was crippling.

Would they understand?

Will I be strong enough to persist if they dont?

But beyond my fear, there was peace. Knowing that everything I had worked for had set me up for this next step. All of the work and dedication would not be lost by finally “surrendering” to surgery…the years of hard work was preparing me for it, and setting me up for the optimum outcome, so that I COULD level up to a new season of freedom. Blogging about it, and posting it for the world to see made it official. A ceremonious show of faith. Surrendering that fear, and trusting what I KNEW was true, despite some who would disagree or be disappointed.

“Once all struggle is grasped, miracles are possible.” -Mao Zedong

A few days after that post, my whole world got turned upside down because of a video I had posted on my AF club’s Facebook page, that went crazy viral for a few weeks.

https://www.facebook.com/anytimefitnessnorthreno/videos/1828428767179406/

This video was made and posted in a moment of pure passionate impulse. My YEARS of absorbing the pain of terrible comments and the desire to protect my members from feeling that in our gym spurred me to action, and I truly DID NOT KNOW how much it would resonate with people. It was truly a miracle. I had NEVER spoken up for myself before. But I knew…if I was going to protect my members from nasty comments I HAD to have the courage to protect myself first.

Here I was, surrendering all I had to the hope of becoming something better…and within days I felt like God had taken my broken little bits of fear, shame and surrender and laid out a beautiful, mosaic path of hope, beauty and confirmation. A masterful and custom tiled path to my life’s purpose.

It wasn’t ME that made people connect to the video. It was bigger than me. It was only my willingness to speak. People connected to the pain and fear of being discounted, misunderstood and looked down upon. People connected with the intimidation of putting yourself out there, where you might be exposed and vulnerable to mockery or judgement. And people were inspired that it could happen…but you could PERSIST anyway.

It was amazing. To date, the video has reached over 500,000 people and has been shared over 3,000 times on Facebook, around the WORLD. I was asked to do interviews for the newspaper and local news. The articles multiplied overnight and so did the attention. It truly felt SURREAL to have so many people care about anything I had to say for 30 seconds, let alone for articles and interviews?! So many beautiful people reached out to me, sharing their own experiences. So many beautiful comments of love and encouragement. It was a crazy WAVE of love that came crashing out of nowhere.

Because of that video, I was also gifted with an AMAZING opportunity to go to THE MOST AMAZING wellness retreat in Northern Minnesota ( https://thepointretreats.com/) where I was fortunate to meet the MOST amazing people. I was also invited for a visit to Anytime Fitness Headquarters in Woodbury, MN, where I was treated like a queen for the day, got to chat with our MFCEO Chuck Runyon and my favorite AF rockstars, and spoiled rotten with love and support from my purple tribe.

It. Was. Unbelievable.

The whole time, being FULLY aware of my body and the space it takes up while traveling on planes by myself. The whole time, knowing my surgery was quickly approaching and how much physical, mental and spiritual work I still had ahead of me, reminding me this journey is far from over…and in some ways, just beginning. And lastly, knowing the whole time and being fully aware that for every 100 or so comments of love from sweet strangers on the internet, there was ALWAYS at least one or two mean and painful zingers, lurking from trolls and haters.

It all kept me completely anchored to humility during my little 15 minutes of fame. And in one of my many moments of panic and fear through all this, God gave me the best gift while out camping with my family and good friends.

My daughter had woken up at 4 in the morning on our last night and couldn’t get calmed down so I put her in her sleeping bag in the backseat of my car. I sat up in the front seat and we both fell back to sleep. A couple hours later I woke up because I had suddenly become CRAZY cold. I barely opened my eyes and saw that the sky was that perfect shade of blue just before the sun rises. There was a thin blanket of fog slowly rolling along the top of the lake we were camping by. It was one of those quiet moments early in the morning where you feel you’re the only person alive in the world. As I sat up and started pulling my arms into my sweatshirt to warm up, something my dad always used to say to us growing up, taking us fishing popped into my head.

“It’s always coldest just before the sunrise.”

As soon as I heard that I stopped.

I knew.

As cheesy as it sounds, I knew in that moment everything would be ok. All of the hard times, humiliation, shame, disappointment, embarrassment, doubt and fear would pass. I knew that it was not in vain. My body has served a bigger purpose, even in a state that I would not have expected.

Nothing is wasted.

Because, its always the coldest…just before sunrise.

You cant appreciate freedom without knowing the pain of bondage…and sometimes we all feel bound in bodies that we dont feel free to love.

It takes intentional WORK to appreciate what our bodies DO for us everyday, despite what they LOOK like. But that consistent work, leads to freedom.

When I first began this blog, I had no idea the journey I was starting. I had no idea fitness and exercise would become a LOVE and passion. I had no idea that I could be so surprised and honored by what my body was capable of. I had no idea how that would begin to build a magical, force-field of confidence that would spill over into all the areas of my life. It has changed me as a mom, a wife, sister, daughter and friend. It has changed my heart and my mind. It has given me the courage to take care of myself, and put myself and my health FIRST, in ways I never have before. Which is how I ended up choosing to have a drastic surgery, that would restore my stomach back to a size its supposed to be.

Of course, as I completed all the steps, and jumped through all the hoops required by my insurance and the reality of this surgery drew nearer, I prayed for confirmation that I was making the right decision. It came in an email that I received saying I was approved for surgery on my birthday, July 6th.

BIRTHday.

This whole process has been labor. Making a life change IS hard work. Changing the way you eat is hard. Starting to workout and exercise is HARD. And if you dont quit when it gets hard, you’ll find that it is A LOT like laboring and birthing a new YOU.

My surgery was a success. My surgeon said it only took 30 min to complete the procedure, and told us that he believed I did and would do SO well because of all the hard work Ive already done over these years, and will continue to do.

The biggest judgment and misconception I had about the surgery before, and the stigma I will fight now, (and probably fight forever!) is that this choice was a “cheat” or “cop out”. That could NOT be further from the truth. This has been WAY harder than I ever thought, and the next phase of work is JUST beginning!! I still have to WORK in order to continue towards my goals, despite what most people think. It has been a long journey to get here…but I do feel like the sun is starting to rise now.

*****THANK YOU******

To my Husband, squad, family and friends who have been here for me during this past 6 months….you’ll never know the depth of my gratitude, and what it has meant to me to have the unwavering support I’ve had to be able to do this. You KNOW who you are. Thank you.

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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. 😜

A little moment in the sun

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I’m siting in my car right now, taking a few moments to let my daughter sleep. We have had a crazy busy day and she has been a polite little trooper who has earned herself a nap. (I will be kinda sad next year when she starts kindergarten and retires her post as my daily side-kick.)

Some days you just gotta do this.
Push the pause button on the day and breathe. Moving them out of the car into the house after they fall asleep will most certainly wake them up…and sometimes it’s more than worth it just to put it in park, roll the windows down and chillax.

So here I am. Chillaxin. (I actually typed that word out twice just now, how hip of me…)

Soaking in a lovely Nevada afternoon. The sun is shining, the air is crisp, I’m feeling so very “Octobery”.

Yet, despite my peaceful little moment here, I can’t help but have a heavy heart. I keep staring at my messy, sleeping little baby girl and my heart swells with love and a little fear. Its hard NOT to be afraid right now if you are a parent.

My mind keeps wandering to the candle light vigil I attended last night with my husband, children and friends in response to the school shooting that happened here on Monday. Honoring the life of a man who died this week in my hometown, protecting students at the school he taught at. It was (and is) surreal that it has happened here, but it comes as no surprise to any of us anymore. As if to say,” Well, I guess it was our turn?”

No matter how we try, we cannot escape suffering in this life. It just HAPPENS to each of us in different ways. But, for just this quick quiet moment, I feel like no matter why or what may come…I know that God is big enough to be trusted with it all. Even with MY babies.

So I can let it go…and tomorrow when I try to take it back into my own hands and be afraid, I will remind myself of this:

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
-Isaiah 26:3 NLT

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Revisiting my steps

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“You’re blessed when you’re content with who you are – no more no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”
– Matt. 5:5 (MSG)

I keep reading this over and over.

I feel like I want to brand it into my forehead where I can see it everyday.

These are living words.

This is the “message” translation of Matthew 5:5 which is part of the beatitudes that says,”blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”
I love “The Message” bible because I feel like its written in the everyday language that I use. It helps me understand what the heck the bible is talking about sometimes. I’m not a scholar, I just want to understand in lay men’s terms what is going on.

I think this scripture resonates so deeply with me because I feel like I am my own worst enemy. The war that I wage is against myself. I feel like a lunatic at times if I’m being honest. You probably wouldn’t trust me with your dog, let alone your children if you knew the levels of crazy I had going on in here. I get so sick of myself.
I’m ready to be free of the ways I hold myself back! I realize this isn’t a one time decision, but a DAILY one.

“As water reflects the face, someone’s life reflects the heart.”
-Proverbs 26:19 (NIV)

When I look around and see that my life reflects what’s in my heart, I am sobered by the truth of it.

Once again, I will make the choice to LET GO.
To unclutter my life, my home and my time to declutter the mess that lies waiting to grow in my heart and mind.

One day at a time, making the right choices even if I don’t feel like it. Managing what I already have and being thankful for it will bring contentment and hopefully peace. Surrendering it all to God who is big enough to handle it.

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A poem for Friday


The darkness was real.
Almost swept me away.
Subtle erosion.
But I’m still here.
I can still sing.
I can still laugh.
I can still feel.
I’ll run these fingers through love.
I’m alive.
Oh Lord, I’m alive!
Hand out the window cutting quickly through the cool, fresh air.
Sweet sage; wet in the morning,
smells like a Nevada heaven.
Home.
Acoustic thoughts unplugged from the usual worry.
Smile in the face of it.
Pull in a deep breath of joy.
Heart beating.
Another day.
An evolution.
Resumed.
Reclaimed.
Restored to original luster.
Sanded down to remove the rough paint and old ways.
Smooth again.
New again.
Chokes me up; appreciation is a lump stuck in my throat.
For right now all is right and good.
For all we know our hearts could break tomorrow.
They probably will.
But we can face it bravely.
We’ve already survived being shaken.


“A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones.”
– Proverbs 14:30 (NLT)

Ramblings…


“We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be.”
― Anne Lamott

Why would it be wrong to make peace with myself?

Like accepting myself and taking a deep breath of peace and appreciation into this body would be some form of self worship.
Like celebrating who I am and who God has made me to be makes me a heretic…blasphemous?
Ridiculous?

The effort that it takes to keep up the self loathing doesn’t seem worth it.
We all hate ourselves from time to time.
It’s a chronic disease.
And every time I get close to believing in the cure,
I am yanked back into doubt.

I would imagine that the creative mind behind all of this would want more of his little creatures.
No parent that I’ve ever encountered, even the really terrible ones, ever wishes for their kids to fail, shrivel up and die for the parents own boasting?
Why am I constantly being told that that is who God is?
A father so ashamed, so disgusted.
Willing to show mercy only to glorify himself and boost his own ego?
I prefer imagining him bending down to watch his children thriving and loving. Blessing, living and growing.
Coaxing us to learn hard lessons.
Beckoning us to see beauty in ashes and strength in weakness…
as he stands firmly with us, providing it.

When I make a point to notice I can see His tenderness everywhere.
In the tears of a stranger mourning an animal.
In the laughter inside the eyes of an understanding and caring friend.
In the kisses, undeserved, from an irritated spouse.
In the quick forgiveness of a child’s love and adoration.
In the loyalty and faithfulness of a dog.
In the loving truth telling that pulls no punches of a sister.
In the apology of a brother.
In the teachable moments grasped by a father.
In the quiet grief of an overweight woman in a yoga class.