“Megan, you have to share some of these stories. They’re incredible.”
I have been told this several times about the women in my coaching program, because, to be quite honest, it's completely changing lives.
But, I’ve always been hesitant to show the transformation stories of some of the Strong Mommas. I’ve always wanted a different vibe from this program…not one that focused on before and after photos of impressive amounts of weight lost. I’ve never wanted physical appearance to be the most important thing, because it’s not with this group.
When someone signs up to be a Strong Momma, they don't have to take humiliating "before" photos in their sports bra and underwear. They don't have to post their weight or body fat percentage anywhere. They can just come into the program as they are, with zero judgement and zero shame.
But there’s no denying the fact that some major changes are happening with the women that do the Strong Mommas Coaching Program. Yes, a lot of outward, physical changes, clearly (as you'll see below)! But also, deep internal changes too. And I think it's important that you learn about these women, because I bet you'll be able to identify with them in many ways.
So without further ado, I’d love for you to meet my sweet friend Ally!
Ally, what was your life like before Strong Mommas?
Prior to Strong Mommas, I basically had no routine or structure concerning food and working out. No consistency. And, no freedom either.
I had given birth to three children. When my youngest was born in August of 2016, my oldest had just turned three! Having all these kids so close together, I really felt overwhelmed in this department and was looking for structure and good food advice. But there was so much out there that I would start with something, get overwhelmed by it, and give up.
I craved a routine but didn't know where to start.
In November of 2016, three months postpartum with my third child and about five months prior to joining SM (Strong Mommas), I started going to the gym three times a week and making better food choices, but I still lacked the know-how with strength training and a more freeing eating routine. I made some progress in those five months, but it barely compares to the immediate progress I made when I joined SM in April of 2017. While still breast feeding, I began following the SM workouts and the SM Nutrition Guide. It gave me almost instant results in weight loss and muscle gains.
However, and MOST importantly, I was experiencing the freedom and joy of the structure and routine that SM provided, and so was my family.
What are the biggest changes you’ve experienced as a direct result from working with Megan and Strong Mommas?
Okay, well if you look at the before and after photos I've shared with you, the proof is in the pudding. Clearly, I've experienced some big changes in my body. Don't be deceived by my long and lean frame...I was lifting two 25-pound dumbbells when some of these photos were taken! Not to mention, I had barely lifted weights in my life prior to this, and I started out with just 10 and 15 pounders. I have gotten so much stronger!
Yet, the greatest change I can attest to is the peace and joy I have and continue to experience surrounding working out and nutrition. I used to have so much anxiety about it and it would cause me to throw in the towel… the all-or-nothing mentality at its finest. Perfection is no longer the goal, but rather glorifying God in this body, practicing mindfulness surrounding my food, and continuing to try new things pertaining to strength training.
In what ways have your changes impacted your family?
In every way! Remember I mentioned earlier that I had no routine and was so overwhelmed in the kitchen. Now that I have the simplicity of the SM Nutrition Guide, my whole family does too. Of course, my kids eat slightly different from me and so does my husband, but not that much! My kids know about “eating their PRO's” at every meal and enjoy it! I'm rarely, if ever, overwhelmed when it comes to meal and snack times for my family (and I'm rarely driving through McDonald's to feed them now).
What Megan has created is so simple and manageable and easy to remember! Oh, and let it be known, we still enjoy treats like donuts and ice cream, but they now have their proper place in our family routine and there is a lot less overindulging!
In what ways has this process impacted your heart and your mindset about your body?
Before I joined Strong Mommas, I was already on a journey of heart and mind healing of how I viewed my body. However, SM came into my life at just the right time to continue this healing process with a plan, structure, and a large group of like-minded women on the same journey!
I recently had my husband hide my scale and I no longer let it dictate my progress. That decision took a while. The "all-or-nothing" mentality has practically disappeared, and I no longer have a scarcity mindset when I'm at parties or holiday gatherings (making me want to eat everything in sight just cause it’s there). The Facebook coaching group continues to provide an outlet to confess and share when I am struggling, and I am met with so much grace, wisdom, and sound advice.
Recently, I became pregnant with my fourth child. I found out the news at the "peak" of my fitness journey here at SM. I was strength training four days a week, lifting 25-pound dumbbells, and my nutrition was on point. I hadn't noticed, but pride had creeped in. Well, God saw fit to expose that and he used my first trimester to do it!
After a few coaching calls with Megan, and with the help of the coaching group and the Holy Spirit, I slowly (and painfully) readjusted my expectations and allowed God to prune me. It was painful. However, once I lowered my expectations, freedom entered my fourth pregnancy. Now that I am feeling energetic again and the eight weeks of nausea have left me, I am back to working out about three times a week and eating just like I did prior to pregnancy.
This is by far my healthiest and strongest pregnancy yet thanks to Strong Mommas!
Is there anything you can do now that you couldn’t do before?
Oh my word, there is so much! I'm 23 weeks pregnant as I type this, and I am still comfortably lifting 20-25 pound dumbbells and holding myself up in tricky positions! I have never worked out during any pregnancy prior to this one. When I first joined Strong Momma's, I could barely get two workouts in a week without dreading it and being overwhelmed. Now, I eagerly look forward to my workouts and I have so much energy for the day!
Is there anything that is still challenging or still a struggle for you?
As Megan always says, "Easy is earned." I would say there isn't much that I'm challenged by or struggling with at this point in my journey here. BUT (and this is a big BUT), I know that as a mom of three (soon to be four! yikes!) and just as a woman/human in general, each day is met with new challenges, struggles, and variables. I'm thankful to have the support of Megan and the ladies at Strong Mommas as I continue to grow, learn, and change. I need it, and I believe I always will.
If you could say anything to other women that are hesitant of commitment to exercise and nutrition, what would you say?
I understand the hesitations, because I was hesitant to commit, too. Yet, there is something so freeing and beautiful about submitting yourself to a process. Regardless of if you had tons of experience with exercise and proper nutrition in the past, or if you're brand new to it, submitting yourself to someone who can actually help you will bring about freedom and joy like never before!
I think this is such a beautiful reminder of submission to God for help. We need His Son and the Gospel daily and when we try to live life in our own strength and on our own merit, we always fail.
Trust the process. There is grace in the process. And the process is lifelong.
Truly, I have not encountered anything like Strong Mommas. A place where grace is plentiful, truth reigns, and knowledge surrounding exercise and nutrition is bountiful.
(strong mom of 3, almost 4)
It's your turn!
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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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