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Guest Blogger Melissa: A Journey to a Better Me!

Written by Mandie Caraway

Published on Oct 4th, 2016

My journey began about 6 years ago. I married my sweetheart and decided to have a family shortly after. We were elated when we found out I was pregnant and devastated when we lost our beautiful, baby boy at 36 weeks into the pregnancy.  I have never experienced such grief and heartache.

My husband and I desperately wanted to become pregnant again. We tried and tried, becoming more disheartened with each passing month. I noticed that my confidence began to decrease. I felt at odds with my body.

Thankfully, after what seemed to be a very long time, we were able to conceive.  

While pregnant, I was super paranoid, and struggled  when diagnosed with gestational diabetes. It took a lot of effort to keep my sugar levels stable. I was learning that diet and exercise were more important than I thought they were.

Well, I had a healthy, happy, baby girl and was so excited! I continued to eat healthy and when she was 6 months old I found out I was pregnant again! Although excited for another baby, my body was not up for the challenge. It was a hard pregnancy. It hurt to walk, it hurt to roll over in bed.  I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t exercise and on top of all that, I had a new baby to take care of.  It was hard!

I made it through and had another healthy, happy, baby girl. So now my life is busy with two little ones! While I love being a mother, I began to feel like kids became my life, every thing revolved around them. I felt like there was no time, no space, no opportunity to do the activities that I once defined myself by; the things that made me, me.

I am naturally a very social, adventurous  person. I love interacting with people. I love to travel, hike and experience new things. But with two toddlers it is not an easy task to get out of the house and go anywhere. I was struggling to establish my identity as a mom, and struggling to reclaim the confidence I use to have.

For me, one of the most tangible devolutions of my identity was manifest in my appearance. I was fat. I desperately wanted to lose weight, but felt too tired to exercise. But my lack of energy and scarce opportunity to do something for myself, like workout, didn’t keep me from obsessing over my physical activity (or lack thereof). There would be times, after I put the kids to bed, that I would put on a workout video and sit on the couch and watch it, but actually doing it was difficult. 

I felt stuck. Stuck in the same rut for two years. But then something happened. I saw a facebook post and it changed everything.

10 weeks ago I came across a contest on Facebook by a supplement called bmiSMART. With many people applying for less than a dozen spots, simply becoming a contestant was a contest in and of itself. bmiSMART was offering an amazing opportunity for a lucky group of candidates who wanted to get healthy and strong. They would provide the chosen contestants with a personal trainer, nutritionist, social support, and an amazing weight loss supplement called I-REMOVE from the bmiSMART line of products.

I decided to apply. And a few weeks later, on my birthday, I received an amazing gift, a phone call from bmiSMART, telling me I was chosen to participate in the challenge. Simply being chosen as a contestant felt like winning.

I was right to be excited! I have been provided with some great resources! A great personal trainer, who has been so fantastic and a huge factor in my success. Thanks Hill! And not only did I get a great personal trainer, bmiSMART also provided me with an amazing nutritionist, who taught me how to eat healthy, and showed me that eating healthy didn’t have to be bland or boring. Thanks Stephanie! These two women have helped me so much, and to top it all off, all the benefits of working hard and eating right have been amplified with I-Remove.

This is not to suggest things have been easy. They haven’t. When the contest started, I had horrible self-talk and was tearing myself down, putting  guilt where there didn’t need to be any, fighting battles that didn’t need to be fought. telling myself i wasn’t good enough, and that results weren’t coming fast enough. But I took a leap of faith. I went through the motions. I committed myself to trying. And then I started to notice the most impressive change.  A few weeks into the contest, I began to realize that more than a personal trainer or a nutritionist, I needed myself as an ally. I discovered that when you make a friend with yourself, when you are no longer your own enemy,  you have a friend for life. When you chose yourself as a priority, you will find a way. And not only that,  but everything else just falls into place. And if it doesn’t, you find a way to make it work.

I am now 22 lbs. lighter. I look healthy. I feel healthy.

While my physical transformation is tangible, the changes that I have made within myself are far more impressive. The outside simply manifests what’s happened on the inside.

This contest has shown me how tough I really am!

 I have my energy back. I forgot that you can go up a flight of stairs without being out of breath!  I now have the stamina to play with my kids AND work out! I am including them in so many more activities and I am not discouraged to take them with me places. I can do so much more with the energy I have. More valuable than energy, getting fit and reclaiming my body has given me the confidence I need to be both a mother and myself.

This has enabled and encouraged me to go out and try new things. Things the real me would do. Things that once defined me, but were neglected during the first years of motherhood. I am branching out, taking parenting classes so I can be the best parent possible. I am even  volunteering at a correctional facility. I feel like I can go back out into the world and make a difference. I did not believe this 10 weeks ago. But now, having seen the difference I made in myself, I know I am capable of making a difference for others.

I know I have had a lot of little obstacles but I have finally made me a priority, and by doing so everything has fallen into place. I made a decision that I am stronger than my circumstances. I am more important than the obstacles I have faced, and will continue to face.

I have invested in myself, and found myself, my real self, in the process.  You should invest in yourself too!