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.

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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!!!

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. 😜

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. 

One year of blogging and looking ahead

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It has officially been one year and I have the same heavy body I had last February when I started this blog.

I’m writing from the same couch. Same living room. Same house. Same warm dog lying next to me.

So much has remained the same but I know that when I stop and think, I’m at least a little older and whole lot wiser.

A lot can happen in a year.

If I’m being honest, I really thought that if I gave myself over to the honesty of writing and sacrificed myself on the alter of this blog, that somehow all of my excess weight and self doubt would magically melt away by the sheer power of humility.

I would NOT hold back and I would come out of this transformed and on my way to being a big deal. Spiritually, mentally, physically and creatively superior. Ready to impact the world with my success story.

Well, that didn’t happen.

What has happened is REAL life, and not the la-la land I was imagining where magical things unfold without any work.

One thing I’ve learned is that love hurts. Sometimes, love means turning the other way. Destructive and repetitive family cycles are agonizing to remove yourself from, but for wholistic health, it must be done!

When trying to soak up someone else’s pain only makes them sicker and you, sicker…the downward spiral deepens. Having to let go of someone you love because you can’t be their savior…walking away from their pain?
About the worst thing I’ve had to attempt and see through. Somewhere along the way I’ve believed that taking care of others is way more important than caring for myself. I’ve learned the hard way that this is just simply untrue. I have no idea how or what that looks like.
Still working it out.

Because of not knowing how to properly care for myself and my own needs, I’ve also learned that I can’t trust myself around food and REALLY can’t trust myself around a bible.

My spiritual life is connected to my tangible eating and breathing life, is connected to my creative life, is connected to my mental life is connected to my spiritual life…blah blah blah. I know that the more I struggle against my creator the worse I seem to struggle mentally, creatively and physically.

So why the struggle?

I know all the proper “theological” answers. I am a sinner who wants to be my own God…I want to captain this ship of mine on my own, and thus will suffer from these ill navigated waters until I surrender.

Boo.

That’s really not it.
I’m just desperate for an authentic faith. I reject being boxed into a “Christian-living-looks-like-this” box. As much as I try to not care and act aloof about the whole thing, at the end of the day I just want to press in and get close enough to Jesus to touch the hem of his garment. To push through the crowds and see him for REALS. Be near Him. Be healed. Without anyone telling me I’m doing it wrong, or interpreting it wrong, or questioning if my motives were biblical…or WRONG.

I’ve let my distaste for our audacious “Christian culture” and all the rights and wrongs create distance between me and the source of love and life.

It’s weeks like this past week that bring me back down onto my knees where faith and reality meet head on.

A beautiful friend of mine suddenly passed away from a violent athsma attack. She was my age. A mother of 4 young children and a wife to a husband whom she adored. Her death was shocking and heart breaking. A few days later, the news of another friend from high school, taking his own life.

No matter who you are or what you believe, when your heart is breaking you look for the goodness of God. You search to find light to chase out the darkness. To fill in the cracks of what’s been broken.

Perhaps that is why he allows us to endure hard things, so that we will put down our rubbish and shenanigans and get back to finding and staying near to the source because we certainly aren’t guaranteed tomorrow.

So, this year I will continue to do just that. Seek out He is who is the source and stay near to Him. I will continue to write and throw myself onto this blogging alter in that pursuit.

No expectations of crazy miracles or outcomes, just me, keeping it real.


*I was surprised by who was on the sidelines cheering me on at the start of this blogging journey and am equally surprised by who remains and is still here pushing me onward.

So, in honor of my one year blogging anniversary, THANK you so much for loving me despite what a maniac I am.

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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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