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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WAIT GAIN

“In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die, and where you invest your love… you invest your life.” – Mumford and Sons, “Awake My Soul” 

It’s true what they say…about social media being a highlight reel of our lives. A carefully curated presentation of the best moments, best angles and most brag-worthy accomplishments. I am 100% guilty of it. Its easy to share the good news, when you’re on top and killin it.

But what about when you’re not?

This is the post I have been waiting to write.

Probably the most controversial post I will write.

After starting in 2014 and losing almost 130 lbs on my own and hitting a long stall, I’ve spent the last year finding out what it felt like to continue to stall, break through, plateau, re-gain then re-lose, and gain again.

Again and again.

What comes along with this toxic spiral is my crazy fat girl brain. Stressed, desperate, disordered eating brain starts sneaking in. Out of control, relapsed, food addiction brain. Compulsive, negative, unhealthy patterns, and trying to hide out brain. The brain that starts to remind me of all the negative stuff that I have worked so hard to over come.

Which REALLY sucks because the entire reason I embarked on this journey was for freedom from all that. Freedom from the grip that food had on me, and the prison an unhealthy relationship with food turns your body into. No amount of exercise can overcome it. Trust me. I know. Because I love the way fitness has transformed my life and made me feel.

I feel AMAZING when I work out. My body is strong. I LOVE what I am capable of. But it has not been enough. Im still running as hard as I can into the same brick wall of food addiction and finding myself stuck in this same prison.

So, I have made the decision to have weight loss surgery.

There it is.

I have tried to write this post for weeks. Knowing that those of you who have followed and supported my journey deserve to know, just as I deserve to feel unashamed about my decision….but here I am anyway, feeling anxious to share, because there is a HUGE stigma.

A stigma that I myself perpetuated while I was “losing my weight naturally.”

A stigma that suggests that bariatric surgery is “a cop out” or a “cheat”.

A stigma that suggests that this is the way lazy people try to lose weight.

A stigma that is most likely spurred on by those who have never carried 100+ extra pounds around on their bodies, and had to endure all that comes along with it. Including, being faced with making a decision like this.

The truth is, anyone can lose weight.

This is what I know FOR SURE. If you make up your mind, research whats best for you, make a plan and stick to it…it WILL happen. You will lose weight.

However…what I didn’t know was how hard it would be to keep it off, leave it off, and keep my muscle and sanity while still having 100 MORE pounds to lose!

I didn’t know how my body/biology would FIGHT me constantly to get back to a certain weight, and the mental toll that would start to take on me. And I certainly didn’t know how to keep myself from falling apart emotionally and making it all worse, creating a big, FAT, toxic cycle. Which is what I set out out to change in the first place! Breaking this cycle for my daughter.

Its more than just losing weight and “staying committed” or “buckling down” when your compulsions have the potential to lead you down a road where you’re justifying throwing up the food you just ate, or any other number of psycho/harmful behaviors some of us resort to when we feel desperate.

This is real.

This is MY real life.

And I know I’m not the only one. The struggle is REAL. Thats why I know I have to share.

This decision has not come without some agonizing conversations with myself, loved ones and God.

How do you lose 128lbs (at the height of my weight loss) and still find yourself at this decision? Has everything you’ve worked for been in vain?

How do you know what miserable life you left behind at 400+ lbs and have the audacity to gain weight back after publicly professing it would ever ever happen?

How do you silently judge others whom have had the sugery and think to yourself, “that is a copout or easy way out…” because you dont want to admit you are actually jealous of the help they’ve sought out while you’re struggling and full of shit?

How do you keep credibitly with your DREAM JOB at a gym, with your members whom you love, and with co-workers/family whom you admire?

What about family and friends who’ve been so “inspired” while your whole story has been about I CAN…and this all seems like a surrender to I CAN’T?

I could give you a million reasons why I’made this decision. I could explain and convince. I should, but I’m not going to.

I want freedom.

I want to be ABLE to do all the things I want to do in this one life that I’ve been given. And that reason is enough.

That has always been my WHY.

I am ready to break down this brick wall and keep going!

This doesn’t mean I’m stopping or quitting ANYTHING!!! I just plan to use this to crank everything up a notch and be able to kick a LOT more ass!!!

There is so much I have changed about our lifestyle already, I feel so grateful for the timing of this, and how much I have truly gained by waiting until now to decide on medical intervention to further me on my fitness journey. I feel like good or bad, each step forward has only helped me to be strong enough to make lasting changes.

I have the full support of my husband, family and closest friends. I am obsessively grateful and starting to release the fear of failure and judgement…and step into what is waiting for me on the other side.

And, I am finally ready to declare that I am willing to do WHATEVER it takes to get there.

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!

Trolled

After Thanksgiving, and a string of crappy weeks in the fall, I decided to climb back onto the wagon with a BANG, and challenge myself to finish 2017 stronger than ever!

I started a “35 days of gainz” challenge on social media, and invited my Anytime Fitness members to join me, (as well as my coworkers and friends and anybody else who was feeling inspired) to try to attempt to complete one work out a day, every day, until the very end of the year.

It could be as little as taking a quick walk around the block with your dog, or a full on, metabolic “burn-down-the-house” kind of workout! Either way, I was committing to making sure that my body was up, moving around, being active, every single day…till the new year.

It has been an amazing, but challenging feat, but as I write this I am proud to say that I have already done my workout for day 22, of 35. (With 13 days left to go!) I have lost 7 pounds, but the greatest part of all, is that I feel BACK in action!! My slump that I fell into is ancient history, and I love feeling active, and alive again! #FitnessMagic!

Amiright?!??

LOSING weight between Thanksgiving and Christmas??

Cray.

Im feeling myself.

Im walking taller.

Ive got my bounce back in my step.

Im feeling strong, and confident once more, trusting this darn process, and chasing after my best self.

And then it happened.

One of my amazing Team Mates posted a VERY sweet shout out to me on our gym Facebook page, and within seconds, some random dude (not even a member) had posted this comment.

I quickly hid it so that no one could see it, and think that this was how anyone at our gyms behaves or treats people. (Because its 1,000% NOT!)

Now I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me. For the first few seconds it literally stung my face as I read it, but I let it dissolve and I just shook my head, because unfortunately this is the kind of thing that happens to us big girls (and dudes!)

All. The. Time.

You CAN NOT POSSIBLY assume to know what kind of journey someone is on, just by looking at them. In fact, one of the MOST wild things I have learned on my fitness journey, is that no matter what size you are, (whether you’re starting out 200lbs overweight like me, or you’re looking like the most fit person in the gym, cutting weight for a bodybuilding show) we all struggle with the very same exact body image issues, fears and doubts in our minds.

The reason I decided to share this here on my blog, is because I want you guys to know that we CANNOT be derailed by ANYTHING or ANYONE.

This could have triggered me, and set me on a downward spiral for weeks if I had allowed it to plant a seed in my heart, and let that old voice start to speak to me again.

Instead, I TOLD myself the TRUTH:

*I have just worked out 22 days in a row!

*I’ve lost over hundred pounds, and and am working on at least 80 more to lose! While getting stronger and faster every damn day.

*I’m actually the CLUB MANAGER of one of the best Anytime Fitness locations in the whole country, on the baddest ass team of people, (who LOST IT when they saw this comment…let me tell you) who have my back and wont EVER let me quit!

*I have the most wonderful, loving husband who has loved me even before I could love myself. We have a beautiful, active family! I am richly blessed!

*I REPRESENT SO MANY OF MY BEAUTIFUL MEMBERS. I can NOT allow one ignorant comment to wilt my resolve. My people are counting on me to show them that we are strong enough to withstand any road block, even fat shaming!

We are NOT what others THINK we are.

Do NOT listen to the voices of fear and doubt.

SPEAK truth to yourself instead.

Raise your forks with me, to 2018!!!!

Its going to be a HELL of a year!!!

Reflections


“As adults, we try to develop the character traits that would have rescued our parents.”
– Alain de Botton

This quote absolutely stung my face when I read it.
It rolled across my newsfeed so unassuming I almost missed it. When I finally read it, it attacked me with its depth. I’m still not even sure I have it fully unpacked and examined in my mind.

Why did I find this quote so haunting?

We can all tell stories of our upbringing and have scars to show. Some worse than others, but we all all have a history that we fold up nicely and pack with us everywhere we go. We have moments in our lives where we wished things could have happened differently or not at all.
I’ve heard it said before that “childhood is what you spend your adulthood getting over.”

Our entire belief systems about who we are and the world around us are built within the confines of a couple decades with (in my case) wild, immature 20 something’s at the helm. Sometimes when I look at pictures of my parents (and subsequent step parents) in old albums and see their faces that were captured at ages younger than I am now, I feel like I know them better. Differently. More like peers. My own maturity and experiences shedding an understanding light that was never seen before as a child.

People don’t PLAN for destruction and heart break. They hope and dream and intend for good. For peace. For love and life. The same way my husband and I do. The dreams my parents had navigating through my childhood are probably close to the same we have heading up this ship with our babies. I can’t help but think of what my own children will think when they are in their thirties looking back on us?
Now that I’m a mother, it’s terrifying to think of what imprints I’ve left and have yet to leave. Hoping that there will be something good and valuable in there somewhere! Hoping that our intentions will be known. Praying for them to confidently grow into the people that God created them to be despite us and our selfishness.

If there is anything to learn, it’s that while there is still time I can make the choice to grow and change. To LIVE life fully and be an example to them of how to rise above whatever it is that is hell bent on dragging you down.
This is so hard because it requires painful honesty and admissions. Birthing genuine character requires labor. There’s just no way around it. In the same way that I hope my kids will be able to forgive us and show us grace for the ways in which we will fail them I know that I’m called to do the same with my own parents.
With my own HISTORY.
Maybe even with my own self.
That’s really all the rescuing I need…from my own self destruction.

Instead of living my adult life “getting over” my childhood I would rather just be free to LIVE.

I heard this song this morning and it felt like a burst of fresh, clean air. She sings, ” the glory of God is man FULLY alive”.

May it be so!

“Just Showed Up”
By: Sara Groves

Spending my time sleep walking
Moving my mouth but not saying a thing
Hoping the changes would take by working their way from the outside in
I was in love with an idea
Preoccupied with how a life should appear
Spending my time at the surface repairing the holes in the shiny veneer

There are so many ways to hide
There are so many ways not to feel
There are so many ways to deny what is real

And I just showed up for my own life
And I’m standing here taking it in and it sure looks bright

I’m going to live my life inspired
Look for the holy in the common place
Open the windows and feel all that’s honest and real until I’m truly amazed
I’m going to feel all my emotions
I’m going to look you in the eyes
I’m going to listen and hear until it’s finally clear and it changes our lives

There are so many ways to hide
There are so many ways not to feel
There are so many ways to deny what is real

And I just showed up for my own life
And I’m standing here taking it in and it sure looks bright

Oh the glory of God is man fully alive
Oh the glory of God is man fully alive

There are so many ways to hide
There are so many ways not to feel
There are so many ways to deny what is real

And I just showed up for my own life
And I’m standing here taking it in and it sure looks bright

Look what I’ve been missing

My 100th Post

20130708-094339.jpg

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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