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”.


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!



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!


LOSING weight between Thanksgiving and Christmas??


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.



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: )

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. 😜

The good wife

“For your unfailing love is higher than the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.”
(Psalms 108:4 NLT)

At this time last year I was still committed to home daycare with no end in sight. I had a daily roster of 5 kids plus my own. My daily mantra was just get through till nap time. The constant day in and day out routine took a toll; on my house and my heart. When I felt weary I just kept telling myself to dig in deeper…die to my selfish desires and just power through. After all, I was being a good Christian wife! I was home, contributing to the finances in a way that would leave me still able to run my household smoothly and efficiently.
Except for it never really worked out that way. Most days I couldn’t even go upstairs at ALL until after the kids had all gone home. The laundry just NEVER seems done in my house, even now. Everything would just pile up. The cleaning that I scheduled myself to do on certain days ( that was beyond the daily dishes/upkeep I was doing constantly) more likely was saved for the weekends if at all. I would scour Pinterest on how to organize and manage my home. I ordered multiple e-books on the matter that glorified being the “keeper of the home” and usually the Proverbs 31 woman. I chatted with friends about how to budget, menu plan, organize, schedule, budget, menu plan, organize, schedule, budget, menu plan, organize…you get the picture. Always coming up short in the expectations I was setting for myself, always left feeling like I wanted more which always led to feeling so guilty. Didn’t I have it all?

Having become a Christian when I was 17 and not being raised in a Christian home, I had ( and STILL HAVE) a strong desire to create a kind of atmosphere in my home that is centered on faith and family. I want to get it right. Right? I have found that at retreats and women’s ministry events I feel out of place. Like an imposter. Even in the women’s section at Christian bookstores it seems specifically geared toward a certain kind of woman. The books are jacketed with covers of pastel colors and flowers. Paisley prints and pictures of warm steaming coffee mugs. So with a definite picture in my head of what a “right” Christian woman should be, I set out to train myself and make
myself fit the mold. Ultimately it led to why I even started this blog to begin with ( read my first post here: ).
Trying to be someone else led to depression. Self loathing and a downward spiral of continual failure.

There are lots of women who thrive in these ways and are blessed by that kind of stuff, but I am not the pastel, paisley mommy stitching to the tune of a hymn.
I am tattooed. I like listening to everything from hard core to rap. I say bad words sometimes. Most times. Sometimes I get mad. Blurred vision, italian rage, crazy mad!
And sad.
And selfish.
I have real life, ugly issues to deal with like lust, temptation, and gossip. Gluttony.
Slavery to my food addiction.
All unflattering to talk about openly…certainly not pretty and feminine. Certainly not gracing the covers of any books at the Christian bookstore.

Could it be that maybe God knows this and loves me anyway? That His love really is unfailing and stretches further and further beyond what I could ever imagine? That His faithfulness reaches past all my attempts and fitting a mold and sets me free to just be me. His creation? His daughter.

I’m set to go to a spring retreat this weekend with the ladies from my church. I’m hoping to have a great time and learn something new. I am going to have a good attitude and an open mind…but I’m not going to allow myself to fall into the trap of feeling “less than” because I don’t fit a mold.

I am so grateful that my life looks different now than it did a year ago. God has softened my heart on a lot of issues and is stretching me in many more ways than I could have guessed. For the first time in my grown up life I feel good about myself and confident in who God created me to be. Even with a messy house.

Blinded by the light

I’ve been stating from the first blog post I ever put up, that this “journey” is about my pursuit of a meaningful make over. It is more that just losing weight or slapping on some make up. Beyond learning how to shop for my shape or find more flattering ways to wear my hair. Though I am interested in beauty rituals and think they are important for self-confidence as a woman, the main event has been the dissection of my heart.
The exposure of the whys and how’s I was allowing myself to operate in an attempt to understand and evolve. Above any other motivators, the thought of staying stuck in my dark, miserable cave of self loathing had become too much. I had reached my limit.
I will throw myself out in the wind and be vulnerable again, creative again, and honest again and again and again. Because I know that there is real life to live out here. That’s all I have really…my honest experience. That is what I share here. A REAL account of trying to be the woman I was created to be. Cutting out all the B.S. expectations we all stick on ourselves as women, wives and mothers. The “pinteresty”, fake, pressure-y ways we compare and judge each other. I believe there is MORE to this womanhood than looking good and appearing good.

This has opened me up to a lot of new experiences. One of which being the 12 step recovery group I’ve committed to. Last night recovery class was intense. We are working on the fifth step which is, ” We’ve admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

“… God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:5-7 (NLT)

There was lots of talk about walking in darkness, and exposing ourselves and our stuff in the light. Lots of talk about hiding and functioning with denial. Lots of talk about confession and admission. So many of us neatly packaging and tucking away our issues instead of dealing with them until we reach a point where we can’t. I heard someone say last night, “Self deception keeps us going because it works for us, until it doesn’t.”

How true.

The majority of my adult life was lived in this way. I think we are all guilty of deceiving ourselves at some point…it looks different for all of us. For me it was the nonchalant way that I dealt with my body image and self-worth. Making fun of myself and acting like it was fun to just go ahead and be fat and eat whatever I felt like. I had accepted being the fat woman. I had turned myself over to it.

It worked for me for a long time- until it didn’t.

Walking in the light, means practicing truth. It means that I am no longer deceiving or hiding. It means I am opened up and free to have intimacy with God and other people. Telling the TRUTH sets me free and may also help others to be free. It’s contagious. The light is warm and it thaws even the most hardened and frozen parts of myself even though it is sometimes painfully uncomfortable.
Being open always is. It is scary because honesty and openness may leave us feeling rejected or humiliated…but that fear that keeps us in the dark, keeps us living lies. Deceiving ourselves.

Yesterday I posted a cartoon about butterflies. The transformation that caterpillars go through in a dark cocoon to become what they are truly intended to be is not pretty. They actually dissolve into a liquid form and then reemerge into something totally different. Did you catch that? They dissolve into mush. In a dark place. We must surrender. Dissolve. Trust the process. Sometimes the dark is necessary to reemerge as we are intended to be in the light.

Living in the light is a choice I’ll have to make daily. Maybe even hourly. But with each new day here, I’m realizing its worth it.

Breaking free


In his blog this morning, David Hayward ( also known as the naked pastor) shared this cartoon and a wonderful encouragement for those of us (all) who are in the process of transformation. He wrote,” You must break free! To remain where you are will be the death of you. You intuitively know this. But we hesitate because we predict the trauma. We foresee the crisis.”

The scary part really is in the surrender to the process.

I was really inspired by this little drawing today…knowing that I feel like I am in the process of a transformation…feeling like I can actually see it through for the first time…it’s exciting and terrible at the same time. To remain where I was would surely be death. To become who I’m meant to be requires a death too…

I would like to share a poem that I already posted a couple months ago but it feels right to share it again.

The Unexpected Study of Me

My name means worthy of love.
Believed for so long that it was affirmation of some clearance rack value.
A bonus prize… useful for something someday realized.
Eventually this would ring true.

Today has whispered into my ear.
At last, this meaning I see
could be bigger than me.
A prophecy declared from the Almighty?
Words spoken over me from infancy?

Mandi. Worthy of love.

I must believe this. Claim this. Deserve this. Embrace this.

Labored for so long.
Behind the shades,
in dark rooms, in pain.
Heavy and burdened.
Hours logged.
Time was hogged.
Downward spiral of toxic seething bile.

Something new is turning, crowning, and mounting.

Fire that has raged war,
pressing and urging…
Burned down all these walls
bound with thick sturdy purging.
Ropes that are braided with cords
of deep rooted and tangled words.
Said flippantly.
Muttering hard.
Seared into me like a red hot branding iron.
Owning me. False identity.

Embers burned,
oranges and reds.
Snapping and crackling.
Knots untying in my head.
Smoking, slowing, and finally cooling.

Signs of spring now emerging.

Fresh and tender stems cutting through… cropping up from piles of ash.
A breeze on its way, kicking up dust, lifting pains.
Fresh, fibrous, sweet and raw.
This newborn relief.
Baby belief.

Value and worth.
Thoughts, talents, skills and abilities.
Waking up from a deep frost.
Weak and wobbling in fragility.
Fat and sedentary from lack of use, comfortable self abuse.

Upcycle these virtues…rely on them again.
Let the renovation begin…

Each limb, each crease and roll.
From the inside out.
Lord, let your artistry flow.
Come alive and emerge.
Casting away all doubt throughout.
Your knives and tools sharp but subtle.
Carving and molding.
Shaping. Holding.


Repurposing my heart beyond these limits I’ve been living in.
This voyage, this song brewing,
pens moving.

Something stirring.


LOVEDDDDD getting my booty kicked over @anytimefitness_redrock tonight with @keepingupwithesme!! #aflive #burnsession #livedtotellthetale #persist

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