As you saw a couple weeks ago with Gaby (read her story here), I'm starting to bring you some "real" stories. I want to pull back the curtain and put the spotlight on the real women and the real moms that put in all the hard work. These are the ones blowing me away. These are the ones that are learning, growing and changing their lives. These are the moms that inspire me, so I think it's important that their stories are shared with you.
This week, I had the pleasure of chatting with Marnie. She and I have been training together for about one year, and she is also a member in the Strong Mommas Membership. She is incredibly strong today, after working through plenty of doubts and hesitations with her fitness and nutrition that you can probably relate to.
Being a slightly seasoned momma, she shares her unique struggles, and also advantages, at this stage of life.
Let's hear her story...
So Marnie, how many kids do you have and what are their ages? I have 3 kids...my two oldest are girls, a 24 year old and a 19 year old, and an 11 year old son. My 24 year old just graduated college and is living at home right now while she’s getting on her feet, my 19 year old is in college, and then my youngest is at home.
So you have a unique work situation…can you share a little bit about what you do? Right now, I’m doing one thing only…my husband and I have a construction company that we have owned and operated for the last 27 years, and I have an office in my home where I work with my assistant. My work schedule is flexible since I work from home, but it’s generally during my son’s school hours.
Previously, I was involved with blogging and planning events, but I’ve stepped back from this stuff to regroup and reset. I was getting too busy, even though they were fun and enjoyable things. But I wasn’t present for my family and was constantly stressed out, which made me cranky. So I gave up all that extra stuff, which feels really good. I now have a lot of time on my hands that I didn’t have before.
The good thing is that I promised to give myself 90 days of complete consistency with exercising and doing my best to eat well, and I’ve done really well with that. So, if I find myself getting bored, I’ll go for a walk or do some yoga.
So, you essentially shaved off all this extra stuff that was getting in the way of your consistency. Yes! For me, when I got busy, exercise and nutrition was always the first thing to go. Now, it’s the first thing I’m gravitating towards when I need something to fill that time. Plus, it just feels good!
Could you give a glimpse into your fitness history? What have you dabbled with over the years? Before I started working with you, I was running and that was it. But I had also worked out randomly with other personal trainers, but never stuck with it. I don’t love going to the gym, and I never considered myself an athlete. I’m naturally thin, so I never felt the urge that I needed to workout.
But now as I’m getting older, I felt that it was important to be strong. But because I was only running, so I was constantly getting injured (shin splints!) and burnt out…I was just over it. The strength training was something I always wanted to do, but everyone I knew that did it, their motives were different than mine.
Perhaps they were a little too hard core? Yeah! I would love to have a six pack and look like a bikini model, but the reality is I’m not willing to put in the time to achieve that. I don’t want it to be my full-time job. I just want to feel strong and healthy.
Looking back, did any of those things from the past work particularly well for you or not? The gym obviously didn’t work…it was intimidating. I never loved the vibe. But the running was great for a time. Some friends and I did the Rock n’ Roll half marathon, and we all trained together. I never wanted to be the weak link, so I took my training really seriously. By the time the race came, I was so done with running, though. Running worked for me practically, because it was easy...I just had to lace up my shoes. But because I wasn’t doing anything else, I hit burnout pretty quickly.
So how long ago did you start training and changing your eating habits, Strong Mommas style? It was about a year ago. At the time, I had shin splints, and I was frustrated because I couldn’t run. So I gave the strength training a shot. But I have to say, I’ve been somewhat inconsistent. I’d hit it hard for a while, and then fall off a little. The last year has been up and down.
When you first started training like this, what were your fears and hesitations? I knew I wasn’t going to be able to drive somewhere and there couldn’t be a lot of prep work…I needed to just get in and get it done. I was hesitant to commit to something that I felt might be a bigger time commitment.
But honestly, my biggest fear was being self-motivated. I had always been active alongside other people…either with my husband, kids or friends. Someone was always waiting for me or holding me accountable. I was nervous about doing this on my own. It’s taken me a while to figure out what motivates me to workout and what derails me.
I worried a little bit about form and technique in the beginning, but your videos are such a great resource for that. I repeatedly watched the videos, and I still do. I really try to pay attention to your cues, and I feel pretty confident now.
Since you have older kids and you aren’t necessarily a "young mom" anymore, what are some of the things that are particularly frustrating or challenging? The biggest challenge for me is the rate of progress. It’s harder to lose weight now than it was 10 years ago. I’m at the beginning to middle stages of menopause, my sleep is not good and my energy level is probably not where it used to be. It’s all de-motivating for me. It’s just nice to see progress, even small progress, to keep me motivated as I go. But progress is so slow. It’s hard to hang on sometimes, knowing that it’s coming but it might take a while.
What are some of the advantages, though, of not being a young mom? Oh my word, so many times other ladies are posting in the Facebook group about their sick kids or having snow days to deal with. It would be so hard to do this with little babies and toddlers. I’m inspired by them, because I don’t know if I would have the strength to do this all, cause it’s a lot! So, I feel very fortunate that I’m not in that place at this moment.
So drawbacks and advantages for every stage in life, for sure. Yes!
Practically speaking, what can you do now that you were not able to do prior to this? I’m working on the push-ups, and I’m making some progress there, which is exciting for me! The single leg deadlift was so challenging even without weights…balancing was so hard! I used to struggle so much with that one, but now I’m doing it with two 20 pound weights. So that’s exciting for me.
What has become automatic for you and what do you still have to work hard at? Breakfast and my morning snack is automatic. I always do really well in the morning. I still struggle with lunch, though. It’s my hardest meal, and I know that meal planning and prep would go a long way towards helping me with lunch. Lots of bagged salads, but by Thursday I’m so over the salads! Dinners are better, because the whole family is trying to eat better.
Also something that I really enjoy is my Down Dog app. So, after each workout I do a 15-20 minute yoga series. I look forward to this with every workout and it has become completely automatic.
How would you characterize your attitude toward your body before starting? And now...how is your attitude different? My relationship with my body is changing, for sure. Age has played a big role…I’ve always been naturally lean, but as I’m aging things are changing. Getting injured so frequently with running was such a disappointment because it hindered everything else that I did.
And although I feel stronger and see muscle definition, my clothes still don't fit the way I want them to. I still vacillate with feeling proud and strong, but not wanting to put a bathing suit on.
I also know at this point in my life, I’ve never been willing to put in 40 hours per week to rock a bathing suit. I’m starting to accept that this is what I have, this is what I’m willing to put in, and I have to be ok with the outcome.
Has your fitness journey impacted your spiritual and emotional life at all? Have you noticed any crossovers? I was worried when I quit running, because that can be very meditative. Running just made me feel clean on the inside. But even now, the workouts are still a great way to turn my mind off to all the chatter. At the end of my workouts, I rest in Savasana (corpse pose), where I lay still and find thanks in that moment or offer up a prayer. And emotionally, it makes me happier. I’m a nicer person after I’ve gotten some exercise!
Looking at your journey, what are you the most proud of? First, the self-awareness that has come through this whole journey. Knowing that mornings don’t work for me this time of year, knowing what foods make me feel good and which ones don’t, and knowing what workouts jive with me and which ones don’t. I pay attention to that stuff so much more. Before I would get frustrated and be really hard on myself if something wasn’t working.
Also, I'm proud that I'm doing this to be strong and healthy, and feeling good in my clothes is just the bonus. Before, it used to only be about the physicality of it, but now it’s more about how I feel. I love when I get done working out and I just feel really strong and I can stand taller. It’s also nice to wake up in the morning and not have a bloated stomach!
If you could offer one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be? The thing that has helped me the most is to really acknowledge the wins, big or small. It’s a slower process. Changes are happening on the inside, but we don’t often see it on the outside for a while. Noticing my wins has been so important for me, even the small things, which add up to the big successes. Whether it’s choosing one cup of coffee instead of two, or eating two great meals out of the whole day.
Another thing, on my monthly calendar, I cross off each day that I’ve worked out. I don’t know why, but it’s so encouraging to see. And last week I worked out six days! Now I can look at my calendar and see that I was successful even when I didn’t feel like it was.
I wish it was a faster process, but I want this to be the way I live my life. It could take a while, but it’s worth it.
Marnie is a stud, don't you think? She has used this whole process to learn so much about herself along the way. Learning to be patient, recognizing that "easy is earned", and marveling in the little victories along the way.
I hope you're as inspired by her story as I am. If you're interested in training and eating like Marnie, click here to see the type of stuff she's doing. Put a premium on strong (not skinny or sexy!) and learn how to change your entire lifestyle with gradual shifts that last for a lifetime.
Megan P. Dahlman
Hi friend! I'm a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Precision Nutrition Certified Coach, Wife to Scott, and Mom to two crazy boys, Calvin & Peter. I train hard, eat well, rest just enough to keep going, and do my best to maintain a heavenly perspective. I'd love to coach you to do the same. Cheers!
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