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Mandy Stephenson.png

Where do I begin?! I feel like my story is one that so many women can relate to. I am sharing all of this in hopes that it helps someone else. I know I wish I had heard a lot of these things sooner.

I’m a Mom of 2 kids (8 year old daughter and 4 year old son). I’ve worked out consistently 4-5 days/week for the last several years. After my son was born, I quickly learned that working out was not only great for me physically but it was my lifeline for my mental health. I unfortunately suffered from postpartum depression. Shortly after that, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease; it was rough. And for those hard few months, working out was my saving grace… and it has been ever since. Fast forward to July 2020. I knew I was spinning my wheels with working out. I was doing 1 day of moderate weights and the other 3-4 days were just straight cardio (running or stair mill). Lindsey at that time had just finished her nutrition certification, and even though I wasn’t 100% on board, I asked her to help me. I quickly found out that I was not eating near enough for the level of activity I was doing and wasn’t eating the right things (i.e. not near enough protein). Lindsey encouraged me to take things slow and to start tracking my macronutrients (aka macros). It took me 3-4 months to really get the hang of it and 100% buy into it. I’m really good at doing things for other people, and not so great at keeping promises to myself. Eventually, I started keeping those promises I made to myself. Not to appease Lindsey, or anyone else… but for me.

I was one of those women who was scared to lift heavy weights because it would make me bulky. That couldn’t be further from the truth. If anything, it made me so much more lean. I decided to put down the lightweight dumbbells and picked up a barbell. I really learned what it felt like to push and challenge myself when it came to lifting. Everyone has different goals. Personally, my goals were to lose fat and gain muscle. Whether you are a beginner or looking to restart… I encourage you to find a type of workout you enjoy. I look forward to my time in the gym; it’s my sanctuary. I can tune out whatever is going on and just focus on me for an hour. Most days I get up at 5am and workout at 6am. It took some time for me to adjust working out so early, but I love getting it done and out of the way. It’s just habit now. People say that you have to be motivated… I’m not always motivated, I’m just disciplined to do it at this point.

Here are a few things I learned that really set me on the right path: eating enough for your body is critical. If you’re not fueling your body, you won’t see changes. Get enough sleep. I learned I need at least 7 hours to get a good workout in and feel good throughout the day. Find ways to make the foods you enjoy healthier. I learned to love going on walks. Walks are fantastic for recovery and it’s an added calorie burn outside of your workouts. Enjoy the date night or girls night out without guilt…get back to work the next day. The quick fixes and detoxes don’t work. If you’re wanting to make long term changes, it’s going to take some time. I didn’t know that when I started this journey 2 years ago… but now I wouldn’t change it for a thing.

The scale has its purpose, but if I relied solely on my weight, it doesn’t tell the whole story. My actual weight only fluctuated so much – I lost 10 lb. But these stats below are what is most important to me:

Body fat: down 11%

Fat Mass: down 19 lb.

Muscle Mass: up 10 lb.

And if you don’t believe me that building muscle can be beneficial for you in more ways than one…the last time I saw my GP for an annual physical, my bloodwork looked incredible. She told me I had even better cholesterol than her! I’m happy where I am – I feel that its sustainable, and I get to enjoy my life. I don’t track my macros on a daily basis anymore, but I do think it taught me how much and what I should be eating.

Finally, if you’re going to make some lifestyle changes, surround yourself with people who encourage you. I am so thankful for my support system in Jesus, my Husband, my friends and my trainer turned dear friend, Lindsey. They’ve all seen me at my best and my worst… and loved me through it anyway.

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