This is what Live, Love, & Run stands for.

by Melissa on January 23, 2012

Some women sit in a doctor’s office chair, shut off to the world around them, with the echoing voice of reality and bad news pounding through their minds. Some women look down at a new photo of last week’s family vacation, cringe and ask themselves,

“How did I ever let it get this bad?”

Then, there are women like me: tired, yet full of joy and life, looking down at a soft, peachy-skinned newborn baby girl thinking,

“Baby, I’ve got so much to show you.”

Women come in all shapes and sizes, but we all have something in common: there are moments in life where we find ourselves forever changed. For me, it was the day my second baby girl, Madelyn, was born. I looked down at her and glanced over at my little Hannah, barely two years old, with her perfect ginger hair and her big, curious blue eyes, and thought,

“So THIS is my life.”

And I gushed.

I had spent years trying to figure out this puzzle I called my life, and never once did I feel like I had a purpose until that day. I am not sure why I did not feel that sudden worth when my husband and I brought our first daughter into the world, but I definitely felt it after Madelyn arrived. I saw the instant love in Hannah’s eyes for her new baby, felt the overwhelming amount of love in my own heart, and I knew something needed to change. This is my story.

***

At the spunky, impressionable age of 7, I walked into the living room one early morning to find my father’s belongings packed into suitcases. For the first time, I felt my heart break. I remember him walking out the door, and the rest was a blur. From that day on, I felt it was my duty in life to make sure that I made my parents proud – that if I could just keep them both happy, everything would be just fine.

I felt this way even when they decided to give it another shot, and it continued on through my teenage years. Every last breathe I took was devoted to making someone other than myself happy. My parents, sisters, relatives, friends, bosses, coworkers, boyfriends…they all had one hundred percent of my attention, and it was not until eighth grade that I realized that there was something wrong: my weight.

I was only bullied by one person in my life: myself. I was so aware of how horrible I thought I looked, that as I let my mind wander during Spanish class my junior year in high school, I felt this empty space in my heart and told myself I would never live to see my high school graduation. I felt like I was letting everyone down, because of my weight. I even tried to make myself feel better by bragging about how I finished my physical fitness test’s mile run in less than ten minutes.  I had tried every diet, every ab stimulator belt, and every pill you could imagine. I just wanted to be thin – as if it would make it all go away.

By senior year in college, I tried Pilates and even attempted to run several times.  My roommate eventually convinced me to go to the gym with her, and I quickly became a regular. You could catch me throwing on my gym clothes and making the jaunt over to the fitness center at 11 o’clock on a Friday night, in the snow, just so I knew I had not missed a workout for the day.

I lost about 15 pounds in those last three months, and when I graduated, it all changed. I met my husband, Herrick, two days after graduation when I thought I was temporarily moving to Virginia. It was not love at first sight; it took a lot of hard work, but nothing could separate us. We got engaged a year later, married the next, and 10 months after that, we welcomed Hannah into the world. I basically ended my relationship with the gym.

After Madelyn was born, and I saw that I had these two beautiful little girls, with their whole lives ahead of them, looking to me for direction. I knew I had to change one thing: my own self-image. If I didn’t, who was going to be their role model? Who would show them how to love themselves? So, I turned to the one thing that I had lied about in high school: running. I signed up for my first 5K in November 2009, in hopes that I would not let myself down, and downloaded the Couch To 5K app. I pushed. I struggled. I cried. I started over again – three times.  I talked myself up, and I talked myself down. I will never forget how it felt to run for five minutes straight for the very first time. It was the first time I didn’t feel like a failure. By April 2010, I ran my first 5K.

There have been some bumps in the road since then, including a lay-off from a long-time job, but I’ve run five races, and I have plans to run my first half marathon this year. I even took the opportunity to go back to school: to become a wellness consultant and a certified personal trainer. I had one sister with a severe case of bulimia, and I had always had a deep passion for wanting to help adolescents take control of their lives. In December 2011, I was accepted as a FitFluential Ambassador, a privilege I do not take lightly, and I haven’t turned back since.

***

I am currently 100% committed to an active and healthy lifestyle.  I follow the Body for Life program for a way to organize strength training and run days as well as incorporate cross training during school hours as I work toward my certifications. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen creating healthy meals, and I love sharing them with others. I have lost a total of 58 pounds, and despite the fact that I still have more to go, I have never felt better. I have accepted myself for who I am, and that has been my biggest feat yet. All too often we are focused on making others around us happy, risking our own sense of self. What my readers can gain from me is simply EMPOWERMENT: empowerment through fitness, healthy food, honesty, support, positivity, and openness. Knowing that I never wanted my girls to grow up feeling the heavy weight of self-doubt with which I had lived, I took charge and changed the way I saw myself. Today, I make it a goal to help other women, like my readers, as well as my own two little girls to see themselves as strong, incredibly gifted individuals.  It’s never too late to make the change you’ve been dreaming of. That is what Live, Love, & Run stands for.

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Madeline January 23, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Beautifully written post girl :) You should be proud.

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Melissa January 26, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Thanks, momma! I’m sure you know exactly what I mean about wanting to be the best role model you can for your little girl. I’ve come a long way…and I am proud of how it’s all panning out. Thanks again. <3

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Fancy Nancy January 23, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Melissa-Thank you so much for telling your story! Your honesty has moved me to tears! How blessed your family is to have them and your girls to have you as their compass! Amazing!

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Mandi January 23, 2012 at 8:35 pm

She is an amazing sister! Always Always there for EVERYONE in our family!

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Melissa January 26, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Thanks sissy. ;)

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Melissa January 26, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Knowing I moved someone to tears makes being open about my struggles completely worth it!! It’s really hard to wear your heart on your sleeve these days, isn’t it? Knowing you and others appreciate it makes this whole journey worth it. Thank you.

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lynne @lgsmash January 23, 2012 at 8:35 pm

This is AWESOME. Cheering for ya from Denver!

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Melissa January 26, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Thanks fellow Team Fit & Muddy member. ;) LOVE that you’ve got my back!

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Mandi January 23, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Im so very proud of you Mels. Love you very very much <3

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Melissa January 26, 2012 at 6:27 pm

What I love is that you, out of anyone here, have seen every single instant of this entire journey. You know it from day one. Knowing you’re proud of me means the world. I love you, too!

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Meredith @ DareYouTo January 23, 2012 at 8:36 pm

This gave me chills near the end. You’ve definitely got your priorities in order! Good for you, being such a strong role model for your two little girls. I only hope I have the strength to do the same someday. Congratulations on your many accomplishments!

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Melissa January 26, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Thank you so much Meredith!! It’s taken a long time to get here, and I still have a long way to go. With people like you believing in the entire purpose of it all, it shouldn’t be a problem to keep on keepin’ on! :D

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Michele @ nycrunningmama January 23, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Melissa – this is so beautiful!! Such a wonderful, honest post!!! =) You are an amazing mom to your little girls and an inspiration to all of us!!

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Melissa January 26, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Thanks, Michele! That means a lot to me! The inspiration? It’s completely mutual.

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Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb January 23, 2012 at 9:39 pm

This is fantastic! :)

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Melissa January 26, 2012 at 6:39 pm

Thank you!!

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adri @foodiebefit January 23, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Beautiful post. Admirable journey!

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Melissa January 26, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Thank you so much! It’s a never-ending journey!

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Pure2raw twins January 23, 2012 at 10:52 pm

wonderful post! you are amazing!!!

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Melissa January 26, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Hehehe, thank you! I’m pretty passionate about all of this, I will tell you that much!

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Ali January 23, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Awesome post. Thank you for sharing and being so honest!!

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Melissa January 26, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Thank you for commenting! I appreciate the feedback, for sure. And honesty is one thing you’ll find a lot of on here!

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KymberlyFunFit January 24, 2012 at 12:42 am

Something about having children brings out the best in us, eh? I have one girl, now in college and I still see my biggest life adventure as being her mom. Oh, and we are redheads too. How gingery cool is that!?

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Melissa January 26, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Redheads are PHENOMENAL! I love Hannah’s hair, because it’s the perfect shade of ginger, and her complexion? Well, I believe redheads have the best complexions ever. Maddie is a strawberry blonde lady…just like her daddy (who didn’t realize he had red highlights until the girls were born.) I’m loving being a mother…it’s the best adventure and the most fulfilling part of my life.

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Miz January 24, 2012 at 6:39 am

no words. you, my fitlfuential friend, are amazing.

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Melissa January 26, 2012 at 7:45 pm

As are you. <3 Thank you!

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Miz January 24, 2012 at 6:39 am

LOL FITFLUENTIAL :)

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Kierston @CaNdYFiT January 24, 2012 at 8:19 am

Great post! Really appreciate your honesty! Keep it up! :)

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Melissa January 26, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Oh I plan to! I want everyone out there to be able to relate/understand that we’re never ever alone. That’s the greatest support to me.

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Jess January 24, 2012 at 9:19 am

This is gorgeous. This breathes you in every sense of the word. Empowerment is a strong, strong feeling and can take you SO far if you allow yourself to embrace it fully. And you’ve totally done that – something I *really* admire in you. You are such a wonderful, kind, full of love and life friend!

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Melissa January 26, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Thank you, friend. <3 I find empowerment in people like you as well…and your post said it perfectly…we’re just paying it forward, right? That’s the beauty of life…why only get inspired. Share it.

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jobo January 24, 2012 at 10:44 am

I LOVE your story, I love where you pull your inspiration from, your roots, and I love how determined you are. And most of all, I love what a wonderful mother, wife and sister you are, not to mention friend. XOXO

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Melissa January 26, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Thanks, Jo. The feeling is mutual. That’s one thing I love most about you…your determination and how inspiring you are. This is why I’m running with you in the fall. ;)

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Brittany @ LessBritt MoreLife January 24, 2012 at 9:40 pm

You are amazing and beautiful my dear :) No wonder why you couldn’t explain this yesterday! I’m so proud of you and your journey! You motivate me every day :) I’m so glad that blogging / twitter has brought us into each others lives! Love you!

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Melissa January 26, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Yeah, it was so hard to explain it through the Twitter craziness. :) And I’m so glad I can pass on the motivation…I’m always here! And I’m so glad we found each other through blogging as well…we got each others’ backs. ;)

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Christine @ Love, Life, Surf January 24, 2012 at 10:53 pm

This is really a beautiful post and thank you so much for sharing this. I can completely relate to the need/impulse to please and take care of everyone else but yourself. So so hard especially once kids enter the picture. But I know for me, I have to keep reminding myself that in order to be a better mother to my sons, I need to take care of myself.

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Melissa January 26, 2012 at 7:59 pm

This is the biggest lesson I’ve learned. I can tell when I haven’t been taking care of myself…I get migraines, which makes me irritable and short, and that means when the kids are being innocently loud…I’m a bomb ready to go off. Stress doesn’t sit well with me, and I know my triggers. Being a great mother is definitely a reflection of how we “mother” our own bodies and minds.

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sarah @ sarah learns January 24, 2012 at 11:27 pm

beautiful story, melissa! this is the first time i’ve found your blog & i don’t think i could have chosen a better post to find it on. :)

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Melissa January 26, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Thank you so much, Sarah!! So glad you found me (and on such an honest day, too). Can’t wait to hear from you again!

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Cherie @ Cherie Runs This January 25, 2012 at 7:48 pm

This was just magical. That’s it. And so are you. :-)

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Melissa January 26, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Thanks, girl. ;) The feeling is definitely mutual. :)

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Andrea @ irunfordonuts June 1, 2013 at 5:37 pm

You have an amazing story! So happy to have found your blog :)
Andrea @ irunfordonuts recently posted…Adios, Mayo!My Profile

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