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I started on this fitness journey just over a year ago, and what a journey it has been. If you told me a year ago what I’d be capable of in 12 short months, I probably wouldn’t believe you. It has been nothing short of a roller coaster with an insane number of peaks, valleys and loops. There have been moments where I have felt on top of the world, like I could take on anything. Others have left me in tears and full of self doubt. It’s probably one of the most difficult things I’ve taken on, as it is completely within myself. That sentiment is what got me started in the first place. Your body, fitness and diet are things that you are 100% in control of- the Type A control freak in me really digs this, but it’s a sobering realization. Nobody is making you fat but you. Sure, genetics plays a part but you can fight it. There is very little that hard work and discipline can’t overcome eventually. It’s about finding strength, perseverance and the will to carry on even when what you see in the mirror or on the scale doesn’t necessarily match up with what you expect.

So why a competition? If you know me, you know the stage is nothing new to me. I have been involved with pageants and performances since I was a teen- coaching my sister to numerous state titles and competing nationally. Though my involvement with pageants is largely behind me, the pull for the stage never really left. Besides that, I have proven to be someone who works best under the pressure of a deadline. I got in my best shape before my wedding with the looming deadline of being a beautiful bride. While exceptionally stressful and going about it very much the wrong way, it worked. I looked good and felt confident on my big day. Besides that, I just want to accomplish it. It’s the ultimate antithesis to all the years I spent being overweight. I never felt like my life was lacking- I was popular in school, got invited to parties, had a boyfriend, etc- but I always felt one step behind. I always felt like the ‘fat friend’. I didn’t try out for basketball cheerleading because I thought my legs were too fat for the skirt. I heard more times than I could count “Oh you have such a pretty face.” I’d always do my best to brush off the backhanded compliments, but as much as I hate to admit it I’ve carried them around with me my whole life. With them are the memories of not buying a prom dress because I thought it was pretty- I bought one that was hid my trouble spots. Not shopping in the junior’s section of the department store because they didn’t go over a size 12 when I was that age. Shopping at Lane Bryant for my first office job. Those things sting, and they run deep- but I made the best of it, put my sparkling smile on and loved my life. I laughed and had wonderful relationships with friends and built a strong sense of self. Unfortunately the aforementioned was always in my mind. Always somehow holding me back, stifling at least some small percentage of my self confidence. Acting as this negative inner monologue quietly telling me that I wasn’t *quite* good enough.

So then Instagram happened. Not kidding. I was lying in bed scrolling through my feed and came across two photos from some fitness inspiration accounts and my mind was blown. Girls who started arguably heavier than me were able to transform their bodies and do fitness competitions.


Courtesy of @ashleehendry_fitness on Instagram


Courtesy of @tattooedpinup82 on Instagram

It was something I had looked up to since age 21 when I attended a friend’s competition and watched him win first place. I was always in such awe of his dedication and hard work, and was shocked when I saw him on stage and experienced first hand the way he transformed his body. He looked nothing like the mild mannered bouncer that worked at the karaoke bar with me. Anyway, I had never even considered this being an avenue for me. I literally assumed I was a lost cause- that I had been heavy all my life, and my loose skin and stretch marks could never be hidden. Seeing those two girls immediately lit a spark and for the first time made me feel like it was a possibility. I could actually do this. The very next day I did some searching and got on the phone with a local gym that specialized in training competitors. I scheduled a consultation and went in with the big question- can you transform me in a year? Is it possible? Am I that lost cause I’ve always considered myself or do I actually have a chance of stepping on stage? The answer I got from the owner was a resounding YES. I wasn’t ‘too far gone’ and they could have me in shape within a year given I follow my plan and stay dedicated to my goal. That was a year ago.

I know it’s often said to stay accountable to your goals, you should make them known. Historically that is always what I have done, until this. I kept this close to myself, telling only my boyfriend and closest friends. I picked the brains of my friends who currently compete or have in the past and asked them lots of questions and for advice (thank you x a million Zlata and Allison), but I kept it guarded from the public for a number of reasons. First, it was mine. It was my goal that I wanted to accomplish and for some reason it felt comfortable to keep it to myself. I didn’t want to share it with the world. Plus, at first I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to do it. Could I maintain this level of activity, planning, vigorous workouts, and dedication? I had never managed to get in the gym more than 3-4 times a week my entire life, could I handle 6-7 days a week, often twice a day? I didn’t know, so I kept it quiet. Turns out I can do it, and have done it for a year now.

Now we’re getting down to the wire and my intensity has increased. My diet and workouts have changed and it’s time to get stage ready. I figured that the 15 week mark was as good of a time as any, as I’ll need the support of my friends and my social network more and more. My goal competition is in July, although there is a small chance I’ll have to push to September, I’m certainly not planning on that. My eyes have been on the prize and my focus has never been clearer. The prize to me certainly isn’t some pretty trophy- It’s the achieving of a goal that once seemed completely and entirely impossible. One that literally terrified me, and still does to be completely honest. It’s me stripping away all the baggage and self doubt that has lingered in the back of my mind, and proving to myself that I am absolutely capable of doing anything I set my mind to.

Starting photos taken. Will share in the coming weeks as I progress further.

Starting photos taken. Will share in the coming weeks as I progress further.

**I’ll be competing in an NPC bodybuilding competition in the bikini division. A little googling will show explain that in detail, but it is the division that appeals to me the most aesthetically and is in line with how I envision my goal physique. If you’re interested in attending and cheering me on, I’d love to have you- the more the merrier. Shoot me an email and I’ll give you the particulars.**

This DNA thing has been a waiting game. Order the kit- wait. Spit in a tube and drop it in the mail- wait. Get your results- FREAK OUT. Upload to GEDMatch- wait. Get mom tested- wait. Add like two more waits in there. I’m actually still currently waiting for three different things to process. Turns out this process is not for the impatient. It’s hard to be patient when it feels like each step just might be the step that gives me a piece of critical information to piece together the identity of my biological father.

As of this week, for the first time in my life I now KNOW something. Not just assume. I KNOW. I know my father is just a little under half Ashkenazi Jewish. I’ve never said anything about my father that included the word “know”. I always kind of assumed he had dark eyes since I am the only one in the family who has dark eyes. I figure he was short, since my mom is over 6′ tall, and I’m 5’4″. Part of me assumed he was a musician, since my mom was probably into that at the time. All of these things were speculation, daydreams, me piecing little tidbits of information together- but nothing concrete. Until now.

I was driving to Chipotle on December 15th when my first set of results came back. I glanced at my phone (at a stoplight, obvi) and I saw “Your AncestryDNA results are in!” My heart stopped. I pulled over.

My hands were shaking as I pulled up the website, logged in, and looked at the first data I had available. My ethnic background. 80% was completely as I expected. Western European- my German heritage was no mystery. The other 20% was completely new to me- Ashkenazi Jewish. My head swirled! I had always assumed I had some sort of hispanic background, but I was incorrect. My ancestry was also speckled with different areas of the Middle East. I felt exotic :) I finally had an answer to the question I had been asked since I was a teen- what are you?

My next step was uploading my raw data to a 3rd party site called GEDMatch. It’s a free service that regardless of which testing service you utilized, you can upload your results and have one big shared database, and access to more matches. My plan was to spread my “net” as far and wide as possible, and then (surprise, surprise) wait. The goal would be to have my contact information out there, and hopefully at some point a close relative such as a first cousin or sibling may eventually get tested and give me a close lead. This could be a process spanning years, but at least I was starting.

The GEDMatch upload took about 12 weeks to process, but it finally tokenized. It arranged a whole new set of matches for me to explore, and plopped one at the top, who I decided to reach out to. He had a website and a blog all dedicated to genealogy, so I thought he would be a good place to start. I sent a message introducing myself to this guy, and we did a little corresponding. He lives in Jerusalem. After a few emails, he asks where I was born and my maiden name. I tell him I was born Molly Melinat, in Fairbanks Alaska.

“Oh, I have a cousin in Alaska”

I wanted to post this not only to share, but out of fear that Facebook has a tendency to make things disappear. Max wrote the most beautiful, heartfelt post right after we exchanged Christmas gifts this year. He really knocked it out of the park gift wise, but getting to read this was just as special as getting the painting itself. (click below to continue)

Christmas Painting

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I’ve gotten over some sort of fitness hump the past week or so- I’m starting to really notice results. Plus, other people are too which honestly feels pretty awesome. The comments are less “Hey, are you working out” and more “holy shit you look amazing!” I’ll take it!

Other things I’m noticing… I have a second bump in my bicep! I had hardly gotten used to having one. Now I have TWO? I feel greedy.

My giant calves are getting way smaller. This makes Nordstrom Anniversary sale WAY more exciting because mamma needs a new pair of boots! Now if only my knees would get the memo…

I sweat when I do cardio now. A LOT. I don’t think it’s that I’m a sweatier person now, I think I was just always doing it wrong before. Less about duration, more about intensity. I’ve switched things up to sessions of 20 minute sprints and oddly enough… it has kind of correlated with when I’m starting to see all these changes. I think I’ll roll with it. Bonus- WAY less long and boring.

Speaking of sweating, I’m spending so much time working out that keeping up with my gym laundry isn’t easy. Yesterday I had to Febreze my least stinky shirt. Ha!

Some of my workout pants are getting too baggy. This is both exciting and sad. As much as I’d love buying new pants in size small rather than medium, I have like six pairs of my favorite kind, and they don’t make them anymore. Argh!

My ass is finally lifting/tightening. My goal jeans are almost too big, and I finally bought a pair of bright red skin tight skinny jeans. They look good now, but will look even better by the time it’s cold enough to wear long pants. Maybe they’ll even be too big by then 😉 I am trying to remember that as I am commanded to do another set of 147,328 walking lunges.

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