#BornAndMade Campaign + Being Inspired

BORNandMADE

One thing you’ll discover about me is that I feed off of inspiration, or little “aha” moments as Oprah calls it, and it energizes and restores the faith inside me when I feel discouraged or uninspired. I pounce on it like lion to prey. Yes, that intense! Inspiration is what got me through times as a teenager when I didn’t know who I was and thought I had to follow other people’s expectations.

Starting this blog for instance is a way for me to overcome my fears to show who I really am authentically and by my own terms. If I could say something to my teenage self it would be to not to let the world steal what’s sweet about you.

Carol’s Daughter (a product I use faithfully on my natural hair) teamed up with the non-profit I Am That Girl to start the #BornAndMade movement to encourage women and girls to be themselves instead of listening to the voices telling them who “they’re supposed to be.”

Lisa Price, founder of Carol’s Daughter, wants to empower women to recognize the beauty that lies within themselves, saying, “It’s important for girls to understand and recognize their power and the right way to use it. It’s imperative to remind them of who they are, and what they are…in the world. If I can help with that, then I’m getting up for a good reason every day. Where we’re born, what we were made with — whether those are good or bad things — all play into the people that we ultimately become.”

To make your own photo, go to bornandmade.com  to upload your own selfie, fill out a quick form and create a phrase that best describes you and share!

Remember: sweetness is contagious.

-ashlemonade

The Time I Went From Poundcake To Protein Shakes To Get Fit

Fall 2013 vs. Summer 2015
Fall 2013 vs. Summer 2015

It was that dreaded moment at the doctor’s office when I had to kick my shoes off and stand on the medical scale for my physical to see how much I weighed.  Then there’s that anxiety when the bar slides as the scale teeter totters up and down.

“189 pounds.” I’m sorry, what?

I was one bite away from 190 pounds — the heaviest I have ever been in my life. I once compared my first driver’s license with a recent one and was disheartened on how much heavier my face looked. What made things worst were the little things I noticed. How I felt my stomach fold when I sat in my car, how I couldn’t fit any of the jeans and dress pants I own and having to buy new ones. In the back of my mind, I remember being teased for being “50 lbs. away from being 200 lbs.” as a teenager and countless other insensitive comments by family members that made me cry myself to sleep. I still hold that. It’s somehow a bullshit rite of passage that every female endure.

Since starting puberty at age 11, I dealt with feeling self-conscious about how I looked, including my weight that continued to fluctuate throughout college and the “freshman 15” was no damn help either. It was when I did a photo shoot with a local photographer this, when I really saw how heavy I was from my stomach to my thighs. Frankly, I didn’t like what I saw.

Several months earlier I met a fitness instructor by the name of Sarah Fechter who I interviewed for a story project. (Read her story here). After seeing before and after photos of her clients from her LifeUpgrade fitness boot camps, I wanted to be a part of it. That fall I did my first camp — 5:30 a.m. for two days a week. I missed 3 classes. because sleep is my constant companion next to Cajun fries from Popeye’s. It was rough and after finishing I fell off.

LifeUpgrade

March 2015, I finally decided to stop bullshitting and signed up for the six-week spring boot camp. I traded my overactive sweet tooth for protein shakes and clean eating: no sugary sweets, no alcohol, fried foods, and large portions. I also stopped drinking sodas, fast food and changed my eating habits. I had to drink a gallon of water a day and keep up the fitness routine in between which tested my weakness: consistency.

Sarah caught me in a moment where I was over it/dying of thirst.
Sarah caught me in a moment where I was over it/dying of thirst.

Waking up at 4:20 a.m. for three days for those six intense weeks challenged me in ways I both dreaded and needed to get it together. Planks, circuit training, burpees (oh, how I hate thee), running on bleachers with dumbbells and every intense workout imaginable and I felt victorious every time I survived. At weigh-outs at the end of June, I lost a total of 7 lbs. taking me to 182 lbs and between 3-4 inches off my waist, hips, thighs, calves and chest.

I celebrated afterwards with breakfast at iHop and making a funny Buzzfeed post that I hope speaks to your hunger spirit.

As I’m finishing up week 12 before the start of fall camp, I have shrunk down from wearing a size 16 pair of pants at the start of the year to a size 12! The biggest challenge for me will be fall and winter, the height of baking season and comfort food and living in hibernation because Michigan is frozen solid.

It felt good to be around other people who, like me, are trying to get their shit together, prolong their life and be their absolute best. It’s inspiring to know that you’re not alone in this. It’s also emotional because I’m a turtle and putting myself out there always makes me anxious but it’s something I’m working on overcoming. If you’re reading this and want to make a change about your health, do it and be committed. Seeing the before and after of the picture of me in college versus now and those little 7 lbs. makes me proud and showed me what I’m capable of.

On May 18, 2016, a year to the date that I started camp, my goal is to be in better shape that I was when I started and to finally have abs so strong that I can dare people to either punch and bounce quarters of them for entertainment value.