Rock bottom.

I always saw it the most negative thing. You are at your lowest, you are hopeless, things are as bad as can be. No one wants I hit their rock bottom.

Or do they?

I have a new found respect for our “rock bottom” moments. They wake us up… call us to action. They aren’t the end… rather they mark the beginning of… well your beginning.

I’ve been overweight my whole life. In fact I have no memories of myself where I was not the largest person in the room. In fact I weigh less now than I did in junior high. Being overweight was just a part of my story, something I thought I was dealt.

Overall I will admit I dealt with my weight issues very well. Being overweight was something as normal to me as having blonde hair. It was just something I was so I didn’t really let it get to me too often. I couldn’t fix it… even though I tried and tried. So I kind of got used to it.

I got really good at not noticing my weight.

So when did I finally notice it? What was my rock bottom moment that started this journey?

I think you’d be surprised how simple it was.

In July of 2016 my daughter and her dance team qualified for a Best of the Best national competition in Atlanta, Georgia. My Mom, my then 9 year old daughter and myself planned the trip to travel down south with her team of dancers and their Moms.

Now a little background… I hated flying. And not for the typical reasons most do. I wasn’t scared of crashing, wasn’t scared of terrorists etc. Nope… I had one fear of planes… the damn seats.

Yes you read that right.

Every time I would fly I would shove myself into the small little seats. Too embarrassed to lift the arm rest next to a stranger I would stuff myself in and pull the seatbelt all the way over saying a silent prayer I’d fit. Yes most people pray for a safe flight… I simply prayed that the seatbelt would buckle.

Only this particular flight I was not worried at all. After all I was flying with my 9 year old… she only took half a seat so I could sit her next to me, raise the armrest and all would be okay.

So there I was in the airport talking with the Moms while my daughter and her friends played on the moving sidewalks and laughed. Suddenly my daughter came over with an excited smile.

“Mom, we have the most AWESOME idea!!!! You are going to sit with the Moms and us girls are going to sit together, okay????”

My heart sank. I crouched down and looked at her and in a low panicked voice said…

“ Joc you can’t sit with them. I need you to sit by me… I won’t fit in the seat next to another mother”.

I can’t really describe the look on her face but it’s one I actually remember well. It was half tween angst, a quarter shame, and a quarter “congrats… you just ruined my life”.

“Please Joc… I’m sorry… but I won’t fit”.

Trust me. This is not a conversation I was proud of. I knew how excited she was… but I also knew I was mere mm’s away from having to buy two seats.

My daughter rolled her eyes and walked back to her friends like a criminal headed to death row. I watched her friends look at her excited and then change their faces to match hers. Suddenly like a light bulb going off one of her sidekicks looked at Joc with that plotting look grabbed her arm and ran her over to me all excited.

“Mandi…. don’t worry about anything!!! Joc can sit with me… my Mom is skinny so she can sit by you!!!!”

Talk about kicking me when I was down. I was humiliated for me… but even more I was Humiliated for my daughter and I felt every pound of my then 315 pound body.

Fast forward the next day… that moment still fresh in my thoughts. The dance competition happened to be downtown Atlanta right next to the set of the new Fast and Furious movie. Of course us Iowans don’t get the opportunity to be on movie sets often so this was cool to all of us. During a break we all headed outside to take some pictures.

I never had my picture taken back then. I was always the one behind the camera. I liked it better that way. So I snapped pics of my Mom and my daughter and our friends.

Then my Mom snatched my phone out of my hands… “Your turn! Take a picture”.

I begrudgingly agreed and took a picture.

That night I laid in the hotel room going through pictures of the day to post on a Facebook for my family back home. I smiled as the memories crossed my screen.


Then I hit THE picture. This picture.

I don’t know if the airport moment was scarred in my mind or what but I didn’t see the movie set in the picture. I didn’t see the memory. Didn’t see the fun. All I saw was my weight.

Every. Last. Ounce.

I scanned my body in the picture and for the first time I saw what “I had become”. I saw only the Mom that had to have embarrassing conversations about not fitting in seats with her daughter and her friends.

Welcome to rock bottom.

A giant lump formed in the back of my throat. Fear flooded my veins. I didn’t see me. All I saw was the weight… the embarrassment, the weakness, the failure.

I had no clue how to fix it. In fact I was convinced I couldn’t. But it was that moment… in that hotel in the middle of the night that I finally knew I had to do something.

I returned home from the trip… and well the rest you can say is history.

Although this was one of the lowest points in my life… that realization of my lifetime of what I saw as failure was one of the moments I am the most grateful for in my life.

I hated this picture. I now love it… because it is me at my starting line.

So if you are at rock bottom, don’t see the bad. Rock bottom is good. It is the alarm in our life that wakes us up and starts us on our path. So if you are in that moment don’t see it as the end… simply see it as the beginning.

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