Jumping into FocusΒ 

When I first started working out, everything hurt SO BAD and I hardly felt like I could get through 30 minutes of exercise. 

Everything made me winded.  

Everything seemed awkward.

Everything seemed uncomfortable, physically and emotionally.  

I was constantly tugging my shirt down, or pulling my pants up. Rigidly self-conscious and nervous, on top of physically uncomfortable. I understand on a deep and personal level why people join a gym and never want to step back in there…because I lived it. It is terrifying and humiliating. Even if you are fortunate enough to be surrounded by the right people who won’t let you quit or give up, it’s such an exhausting experience for your body and your heart, and it takes guts to keep going despite it all.  

One of the first movements my trainer introduced me to was step ups. I had to hold onto TRX straps to help me step up onto the single step, and then back down to the turf.  20 steps on each side got my heart rate up instantly and it took awhile for that to get easier for me. Now that I am a couple years into my journey, those first fundamental movements I learned have gotten MUCH easier, and I’ve moved on to more and more things that I am able to do.  

Last week I discovered that I am capable of jumping!!  For anyone who is overweight, especially “morbidly obese” as I have been, we know that JUMPING is not on the menu.  
Like, ever.
And if I’m being honest, I have avoided jumping movements for a long time out of fear.  
We had some box jumps to do during our new group training sessions, and I didn’t want to let all the other peeps down in the group by not even trying to see if I could do the jump. It was low enough to the ground where I didn’t feel like if I failed, I couldn’t recover gracefully.  
So, I did it.  
I jumped. I landed on the thing. Hopped down, and did it again.  
It was SO FUN!!! I will NEVER grow tired of learning what more and more I am capable of. Being able to LIVE life and do these things is why I have fallen in love with this process.  

That is the magic of fitness.   

BEING ABLE.

But sometimes I forget that.  

Sometimes that gets blurred by something negative, dark and gross that sneaks into my head and clouds my vision, and I lose focus. 

Today, while getting to workout with one of my favorite peeps, I was trying to show off my box jumps! I did 4-5 in a row and he challenged me to add on one more level. I knew I could do it, so I did! He filmed it for me because I wanted to share my newfound skill with the world! 

We finished our workout and I headed to my car to watch the video, anxious to put it on my Instagram as my new NSV (non scale victory).  
My heart sank.  
All I could see was my body through polluted vision.  I watched it 2-3 times and thought, “Well, I can’t put this up. I look so BIG, my skin is all loose, jiggly and hanging. Is this what I REALLY look like? Ugh. Nope.” And I threw my phone in my purse.  

I ran around and did some grocery shopping and errands and before I headed back home, I checked my phone and low and behold, my camera roll popped up. The last picture that I took on my phone before my box jump video this morning, was of an affirmation that my support group ladies had come up with last week as our mantra. I had posted it as an encouragement and reminder to everyone:

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“I have one body and I am worth the effort.”

But as I sat I my car, the message pierced my heart and  hit home once again…FOR ME.   

Everything came right back into sharp focus.
That knee jerk reaction we have as women to see ourselves and instantly cringe and HATE what we see is what fogs our joy. 

 Here I am, with this strong, amazing body that has been through hell and carries me every day through my life, jumping with ease and landing on things like a boss…and I’ve got the audacity to think it ugly?! 

No.

I will not lose focus. 
 Just because I don’t “look a certain way” yet, does not mean I haven’t changed. Just because my body jiggles doesn’t mean I’m not fit.  Just because I’m not a certain size or weight doesn’t mean I’m not successful.  Just because I’m not where I want to be yet, doesn’t mean I can’t be proud.  

I refuse to continue to do this to myself. 

For those of you who are just starting and everything seems to hurt, and feel pointless…please don’t give up. Please don’t allow that darkness to creep in. I promise if you keep going, it will get better and better and BETTER.  
As a reminder to myself, I looked up my post from when I first started my journey,
(https://mandimonblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/05/update-of-the-year/).
And I will continue to remind myself how far I’ve come, because I have one body! And, it is worth the effort! 

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Let me paint you a picture…

I have a small gallery of canvas paintings from various “Paint & Sip” nights growing on my dining room wall.  
You know what I’m talking about right?


You pick the painting online that you and 5 of your friends agree  would be a good one to attempt to copy.  You pick the date and gather at said place…anticipating FUN and a night out with your girlfriends!  Lets be real, this is a modern day quilting circle, but with alcohol, and we all LOVE IT.  And in theory, you order drinks and excitedly sit down for a few hours of some much deserved (and expensive!) creative fellowship.  If all goes well, you’ll have a beautiful, medium sized piece of original art on canvas to take home and wow your family with.

Right?

I proudly bring them home and hang them all in one place, because they don’t match and I obviously don’t take my decorating too seriously.  They look ridiculous, but I think its hilarious and “my gallery” ALWAYS starts conversations.  I have a blooming, swirly tree, a glorious ocean wave breaking at sunset, and my most recent addition: a majestic winter stag standing in falling snow amidst wintry trees.

My sister and I went with some friends last week to this holiday themed paint and sip night.   We settled in with our drinks and got ready to begin.  I looked around before we began, trying to make conversation and jokes with the women around me. ( I drive my sister nuts when we go out in public because I always like to talk to everyone!)

This particular painting venue I hadn’t been to before.  I noticed immediately it was in a nicer part of town, and since I had to go there directly from a full day at work at the gym, I felt a little “under dressed” amidst all the other women who seemed perfectly dressed and accessorized.  It didn’t matter, we were all wearing the same dang paint splattered aprons and managed to break the ice while waiting for the instruction to begin.  It’s not hard for a room full of women to start to talk to each other within minutes and settle into a comfortable vibe with each other.

Pretty soon, all of us ladies were offering up commentary on what was happening on all of our different canvases. By the sounds of things it was getting pretty rough in there. Slowly, I became very aware of all the little nasty, negative things that were being said.  And once it started, it seemed to catch on like a wild fire across the room.

“I can’t mix this color to look right. Yours looks so good, mine is so ugly! Looks like vomit.”

“These trees are terrible. I cant even draw a strait line! I knew I couldn’t do this. I cant even paint trees. If they were real trees we’d have to cut them down.”

“My deer is so fat! He looks so stupid. I just ruined mine!”

“My deer looks anorexic. It doesn’t even look like a deer!! I may as well paint black over this and start over.”

 

You get the idea.

 

The saddest part is, that everything being said was in a very “light hearted” way.

Joking. Not taking it too “seriously”.

And yet…I knew better.

“THIS IS WHAT WE DO TO OURSELVES.” I thought.

“We as women…this is what we do. We dress nice, we show up, we have the best intentions, and then we slowly rip ourselves to shreds with a smile on our face.”

Despite being beautiful, stylish and seemingly put together women…the urge to surrender to that deep self loathing that haunts most of us, showed up and robbed some of us of good memories and $45 dollars.  Some of us were absolutely miserable.  Didn’t seem to be enjoying  the experience at all.  I’m not really sure why this grabbed me so strongly  on this night, but it just seemed  so extreme and so alarming…It made me feel so sad.

It also made me feel grateful that  I no longer live imprisoned to doubt.  I may not yet be where I want to be, yet..but I KNOW that I am able.  Even if it takes me 5 years.  Even if I don’t lose lose one more pound.  I know that I am changed.  If I surrender to that loathing…I don’t stay there for long.

I CAN’T!

If there is one thing that I know FOR SURE about fitness…it’s that it shows you how CAPABLE you are.  Once you learn that you can push yourself beyond what you ever imagined…you feel UNSTOPPABLE.  Not just in the gym, but in LIFE.

The way you start to think about yourself and talk about yourself starts to change.  You start to appreciate yourself and your body.  You start to show kindness to yourself the way you do with your friends.

I had the strongest urge to stand on the table and yell, “COME WITH ME IF YOU WANT TO LIVE!”  Which is ironic because I was most likely still one of the biggest women in the room.  I know that most people would assume by looking at me, that I would be the woman with the least amount of confidence in that room.  Appearances are so deceiving. 

To people who don’t know me or where I’ve started from,  I’m just a funny and fat lady.   They don’t know what I can lift, or how long I can sprint, or how many burpees I can do, or how I feel when I’m able to run freely with my kids. They don’t know how hard I’ve fought for the confidence I’ve gained.  And they don’t realize that they can have it too.

I wish all women could tap into that source of strength that is buried deep down within all of our hearts and LIVE THERE.

That strength that we all have that keeps us going when we want to quit.

That will and faith to make things happen when all seems impossible.

That drive that pushes us MAKE IT HAPPEN when our loved ones need us to come through?

That strength, and fierce love that I know burns in the heart of every woman?

There’s enough of that in there for you to spend on yourself too!

In fact, its crucial that we do.

We can’t let the next generation of women who are watching us, see us and hear us do this to ourselves anymore.  We have to stop this cycle.  It’s the same thing that we’ve inherited from our mothers and grandmothers about having our picture taken.  Why do we all cringe and hate having our picture taken?  Like nobody knows what we look like?! We must be in the pictures!! We must DO the things without tearing ourselves down! Why is this so hard for us?! 

I didn’t know I had that love in there for ME until I met her in the gym and saw that she was worthy.  Sometimes I still forget, and I fall into that trap of doubting and loathing…but am so grateful for these kind of reminders in my life to show me how far I’ve come.

It’s just like these dang paintings we’re all paying to make.

You’re not going to get it exactly like someone else’s.  Yours will have its own flair.  Not every line is going to be strait, or every curve just right.   You’re going to mess up, and it might not look the way  you want it to…but it’s beautiful because its yours.

OWN IT GIRL.

(P.S. This must be shared: As in life…when in a room of 57 winter stags, my sister emerged as a brooding and beautiful storm on an ocean.  Her painting has also been pictured here, and proudly hangs in the bottom right of my gallery.) 

 

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. 

  

Real Talk

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Realology is about keeping it REAL. I am reminded often about how important it is to keep the documentation of my journey as honest as possible. I am no phony. This is the real deal here. No filter. No fuss, no fluff. Just me, fighting through all these crazy feelings to get to the core of who I am and learn to love whoever that is in the process.

It seems every time I start to feel like I’ve figured this thing out and I’m on my way, I experience something that takes me down a notch or two. This game really is a mental “one-step-forward-two-steps-back” situation.

MENTAL being the key word. The confidence gained inside the gym can be swiftly snuffed out by an unflattering glance in the mirror or a picture taken of myself from a terrible angle. It can be crushing. I feel that old voice in the back of my mind saying,” See? Did you really think that this was happening? You haven’t changed at all.” And just like that, I’m at the bottom left to struggle to climb back up on the wagon and keep going or throw in the towel. That’s usually when I’ve turned to stuffing my face for comfort. Eating my way through all of those gross and painful feelings. Only (of course) to make things worse.

That emotional roller coaster is the hardest part of this whole journey. Choosing to fight against that urge is something I’m faced with, sometimes multiple times in a day, which if you’re a person who has dealt with binge eating like me, it can be an extremely hard behavior to change. Not allowing yourself to “use” your drug of choice which is food.

So, real talk and confession time? I have been struggling the past two weeks with clearly hitting my nutrition goals. I keep going over the boundaries that I’ve set for myself (not by much…but still) and it feels gross, like I’m being dishonest. I’ve been consistent with my workouts and consistent with logging on my fitness pal, but little by little I keep allowing myself a little leeway here and a little leeway there…and I don’t like it. If I were treating my “sobriety” with the seriousness that an alcoholic would, letting a little slip here or there would be unacceptable. I don’t want the old mentality and dependence on food to sneak back into my mind.

Training my mind is the hardest part!

So, I’m throwing it all out here publicly to hold myself accountable! In trying to achieve a balanced life, I know that I’m gonna have a piece of heavenly pineapple cake or something like it once a week, but I have to quit letting one cheat meal turn into 25 tiny compromises on the weekends! I want to walk by a mirror and not let it crush my day because I believe the TRUTH about who I am and NOT what that voice is telling me.

So today I’m deciding to fight this wall and not let it set me back. I am recommitting myself to my eating goals because I know that THAT is being good and loving to ME. Allowing cheats and binges is abusive to myself and not loving…even though enjoying pizza presents itself as “treating” yourself in the moment, it always leaves me feeling crappy!

So here’s to a Monday morning and fresh starts!!

Taking Inventory

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“Laziness casts into a deep sleep, And an idle man will suffer hunger.”
Proverbs 19:15

This is a scripture that I came across yesterday. It completely represents how far I’ve come spiritually on this journey.

I was constantly tired and constantly hungry. Constantly eating…but never satisfied. And sadly, deeply depressed. This was haunting to read, because it is hard to be honest with myself and admit that that was me.

Idle is a term which generally refers to a lack of motion or energy. I was an idle woman.

Self discipline is doing what needs to be done even when you don’t feel like it.

I’m still working on this virtue, but now I can honestly say that my days are filled with energy and motion!
I love it and I’m sad I waited so long to make this change. Every day I keep pushing forward and stay consistent is another day it all just becomes a normal part of my life.

And not just the gym grind, but also household work/chores and keeping commitments…being on time…being a woman of my word. Slowing down and being more intentional with my kids and following through. Planning ahead…making healthy meals. Even silly stuff like taking the actual time to do my makeup and hair on a more regular basis. I like that I’m becoming someone who takes care of her business. I like being someone who no longer wastes the time I’ve been blessed with.

The more self respect I gain, I am more comfortable shedding the tolerance for negative attitudes, vibes, relationships and habits in my life. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

I’m enjoying this snowball effect. As I continue to take care of myself, I am finding that I am taking care of all my “stuff” too. It feels amazing. 😍

Big girl panties

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I’m at the gym right now fighting ugly tears. I have no idea why, nothing’s wrong…but everything’s wrong.

My shoes are falling apart.
My shirt is stained.
My underwear are hanging off of me and getting in the way when I try to move.
(Which technically is a WIN because of my weight loss so far.)
Everything is rubbing and chafing and hurting.
And the warmer my body gets the more I am becoming aware that I smell like the breakfast I made for my kids this morning before I left…and not in a good way.

I am not a pretty sight.

Sometimes it’s hard to muster up the gumption to walk in here just being as big as I am…let alone not having fresh and cute gym clothes and the confidence of a woman who has her life together. Sometimes this whole thing just sucks.

Feeling overwhelmed.

Feeling SORRY FOR MYSELF.

lol

I just literally had to stop and sit down and write or I felt like I was going to fall apart and off of the treadmill, becoming the next viral video you’d see on Facebook tonight.

The truth is I’m probably just hormonal and human. Sometimes we have “off” days. Sometimes things aren’t pretty. I’m learning that it’s EXACTLY in these moments, the moments of doubt and despair, when it matters most to choose your attitude. Moments like these, to cast my cares upon the shoulders of a loving Creator who is big enough to carry them. Moments like these when I will get off my butt and finish my workout, even if I’m not feeling it.

Boomshakalaka.

Balance

For someone who is a self-realized extremist, an “all or nothing” mentality has been the way I’ve approached most things. Nothing being the most common outcome, at least as far as my health and fitness was concerned.

Its been easy to get stoked and declare big plans in the past only to fizzle out quickly. It’s just not realistic to live the rest of your life eating nuts and leaves or consuming only juiced vegetables and fruits. I am the person who watched “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” and immediately declared a 30 day juice fast that lasted about 9 hours. I am the guy that has tried to cut out whole entire food groups and expected miracles. I have mixed drinks and shakes and supplements of every kind, variety and flavor. Every effort was made to cut through the lengthy process that would be inevitable to reach extreme results. All attempts ending in the same way, disappointment and eventual surrender. This time feels different because it is different.

If there was one word that I had to choose to sum up what I’ve had to keep learning over and over and OVER, and repeat as a sort of mantra the past 4 months, it would be BALANCE.

“Balance” has been the hardest concept to embrace and put into practice and is probably why all of my previous attempts at a life change were fleeting. Consistency requires balance. It’s my trainer, Rachel’s favorite word. She reminds me constantly that this whole thing is all about balance. It’s the only way I survived the holidays without throwing in the towel.

There are going to be chocolate days. There are going to be stay in jammies and watch endless movie days. But now there are also work out days, and clean eating days. Cardio days and strength training days.

And this is my life now. No more going from one extreme to the other.

Just like I’m learning to eat the proper balance of macro-nutrients (fats, carbs, proteins) for the results I want, I’m also learning the proper balance between the physical effort, spiritual effort and soul effort that this journey requires. It is just as important for me to enjoy a meal cooked with love and butter and a glass of wine with friends, as it is to have a protein shake on a weekday morning. It is just as important for me to make time for writing, art and expression as it is to make time for prayer and meditation. Self-care is HUGELY important and may actually be the key to all that I’m accomplishing. And isn’t that so hard for us?? To take proper care of ourselves without feeling selfish or vain?

Every time I feel myself getting hyper about the scale not budging as quickly as I’d like it to, or the size of my pants not dropping dramatically, I am reminded that I’m learning balance and self care. It restores my focus. Even if I never lose another pound, if I can continue to practice balance, there’s no way I can lose.

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>>New adventure<<

&andshelivedhappilyeverafter

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