Wayne Dyer’s quote, “Self worth comes from one thing - thinking that you are worthy” pretty much sums up Melanie’s philosophy. I joined FitMom a little over a year ago in the summer of 2012 and I have to say it’s one of the best life decisions I have ever made. Her classes, philosophy, support, nutritional advice, and friendship have made me be a better me. Melanie offers women opportunities to feel empowered to become stronger, more productive, and worth the effort. “You deserve to take care of yourself”…..”you are important”…..”believe in yourself” are all phrases Melanie repeats to us to help us put ourselves first and set goals.
I started to notice a big change in my body when I turned 40. I’m kind of lucky that my body was pretty good to me until then. I’m a pretty energetic person and I exercised a bit, but I never really had to “work out” regularly as an adult. Truthfully, after playing field hockey at Maryland, I was tired. I wanted to rest. Both of my pregnancies were great (in my 30’s) and I gained healthy weight, which I lost right after they were born. Don’t hate me! Haha! I found out I had thyroid disease, which is why I had tons of energy and lost all the baby weight (hyperthyroid). That quickly turned to the opposite (hypothyroid) and my body slowed down to nothing. I take medication to regulate my thyroid, but again, it’s something I have to get checked annually to make sure it’s stable. Anytime I gained any weight I would hope it was my thyroid out of wack so the doctor could change my dose and I’d lose the weight. Unfortunately, there is no “magic pill” and I realized I had to start getting back to exercising. I sucked it up and joined a gym. My first time there was with a trainer who showed me around and how to use some of the equipment. He made me feel like I’d be fine because I was an athlete and didn’t need much to tone up. It made me feel pretty good. I soon realized though that he never knew me before, so how would he know that I didn’t need much? All of our bodies are so different. My “in-shape” might be different than the next person’s. I had trained at a very high level, so I felt completely far away from the Shannon I once was and I had no idea how to get back there so I accepted that this is just what happens when you get older. I went to some classes that I liked and was surprised how out of shape I was. I wanted to wear a sign that read, “I was a Division 1 athlete back in the day!” I never really felt connected at the gym. It was a big place and people came and went. Some days I’d run on the treadmill or use the elliptical and then walk over to the weights and try to look like I knew what I was doing, but didn’t want people to see me struggle or even sweat! Like so many of us, I lost interest and gave up my membership after paying the monthly bill and coming to the realization that I wasn’t going back.
Years later, I found Melanie. I was working with a personal trainer to try to jump start back into training and he told me about her. I must admit that I didn’t want to go. I was afraid of the “big” gym experience I had had years before. I was afraid I wouldn’t feel a connection or that it’d be too easy for me!!! I laugh at that now! When I started classes at FitMom I thought I was in pretty good shape. The first 2 weeks were the toughest. I was sore and it was challenging. I kept telling myself that I could do it. After all, I played sports my whole life. Playing at the Division 1 level had to be the most challenging thing I have ever been through, so I definitely could make it through the soreness of a women’s boot camp. I quickly realized that even though I was an athlete, it didn’t make it any easier at ALL and I had to work just as hard as everyone in the class. Working out with Melanie is tough in that she helps you challenge YOURSELF! She targets different muscle groups using both weights and cardio and her classes are always different. She is full of encouragement and she focuses on each individual. She even modifies exercises for those who have weak areas or previous injuries. Her classes are in no way a competition amongst each other. In fact, they are quite the opposite. We all encourage each other to do what our own best is…..whatever that may be.
Melanie instills many values in all of us…..to never give up, to keep going, to set goals, to take responsibility, and to show self-respect by taking care of ourselves. There are definitely some mornings that I’d rather sleep in instead of go to boot camp at 6 a.m., but it just takes a second to say, “I deserve to take care of me.” Vince Lombardi once said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” We all have tough days, tired days, and stress, but I’m telling you that you can be successful the minute YOU decide to be. You are in charge of your reality. Melanie has helped me be a better mom, friend, and athlete through her words of inspiration, her workouts, and her friendship. I am now doing races that I swore I would never do again. In the marathon relay last October Melanie’s role was to run the 3rd leg and mine was to run the 4th. She actually ran her leg and then continued on and ran the 4th leg with me encouraging me the whole way. That means she ran a half marathon so she could keep me going!
Melanie sends encouraging emails to all of us and small suggestions that have a huge impact on our lives. She helps us focus on the small changes we can make that are realistic and increase our metabolism and our overall health and well-being. She says, “Every little thing you do adds up to a larger, positive outcome in the end.” You don’t need to make huge life changes to be a better you. You only have to make small changes. She sends nutritional advice and healthy recipes that we can easily incorporate into our busy lives.
The best part about working out with supportive women is knowing they are all in it with you. When you pull up to the gym in the winter time and it’s still dark outside, you know there will be a bunch of women in there working hard, pushing themselves, and trying to be better. The classes are all 45 minutes long (some spin classes are a full hour). Melanie offers a lot of different class times in her schedule to accommodate us. You may even have to hire a sitter so you can get to class, but you are worth it! When you feel guilty that you’re paying for a class or taking time away from your kids just know that you are doing it for your whole family and you’re being a good role model. When your kids see you taking care of yourself, those are life lessons for them. I have also learned that it’s ok to take away any negativity in your life and that may mean letting go of some things or even people. You want to surround yourself with people who lift you up and are positive and who have the same outlook on life as you do.
Fitmom has become a huge part of my life. I have run many 5k’s since I joined and even a 5 mile and a 10k race and even the marathon relay. I just completed my first ever duathlon in August with friends I made at Fitmom. That was probably my proudest moment since I joined. That race was completely out of my comfort zone and I was scared to death. If you asked me when I first joined if I was planning on doing any races I would have laughed. If you asked me about a duathlon, I would have fallen down laughing. I raced with Elite athletes in the duathlon. It was probably the first time I felt like myself again. I pushed myself farther than I thought I could. I was proud of ME and that was a damn good feeling. Melanie is truly an inspiration and someone who believes in what she does. She wants you to be a better YOU!