2019 Region 8 Winner: Ashley Mendez

Congrats to our Region 8 pot challenge winner, Ashley Mendez  for being an incredible inspiration and following through on our 12 week challenge! Region 8 consists of Montana, North and South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado!

Join our upcoming No More Excuses Challenge starting January 20th and ending on Easter HERE!!! For $50 you will not only receive an email consultation with Maria Kang, a 200-workout ebook, No Excuse Mom tank, 12-week accountability journal and a fitness/nutrition guide, but you will also get a chance to win $1000 worth of money and prizes.

Congrats to our regional winner! You have $145 extra shopping money this season and we hope you get something extra awesome for yourself! Many of our No Excuse Moms followed our official NEM program, where they used a fitness calendar, logged in their meals, participated online/in-person and overcame their excuses!

Be Inspired by her story here!

My name is Ashley Mendez and this is my story.

Much like many others, I have always had insecurities and self-image issues that date back to when I was a little girl. Whether it was my sisters, parents, boyfriends or the people I went to school with, it never failed that someone had an opinion about how I looked and how I could stand to lose weight. Many years of verbal abuse and me tired of being overweight led me down a path of anorexia and bulimia for more than 4 years. I remember engorging on all my favorite foods and then moments later heading to the bathroom to rid myself of all those calories I just consumed. Looking back on pictures today, I can see there was a physical difference in the way I looked before anorexia/bulimia and the way I looked during that time but I never felt good enough at the time. I was never happy in my body. There was always something wrong with it. Eventually I realized that starving myself and forcing myself to gag was not a life I wanted to live and I needed a change. Enough was enough.

Around the age of 19, I joined a gym and inconsistently did cardio but focused on eating better. I didn’t really have the knowledge of what to eat, how much and what workouts I needed to do to “stay skinny” but I made do by avoiding junk food as best as I could. Of course I had my breakdowns and would run to an entire pack of oreos or the nearest fast food joint but I had grown. I never looked back to the time I was bulimic but instead accepted defeat and said I will do better tomorrow. And since, I have never looked back even 10 years later.

Over the next 5 years, I focused on running and walking outdoors as well as cardio in the gym. I was always moving and being mindful of the food I ate. I got pregnant and had my first child when I was 24. I gained 55 pounds that pregnancy but didn’t let it get to me. After my son was born, I was released to workout right away so I resumed cardio and started eating “healthy”. In reality, I was probably starving myself due to a lack of knowledge of how much I truly needed to eat but I wasn’t intentionally trying to much like during my teen years. I was just trying to be conscientious of what I was consuming. The weight came off very easily those first few months postpartum. I was happy and content with myself. Around my son’s first birthday, I was approached in the gym by a personal trainer. She started talking with me about one-on-one lessons with her and even though I was reluctant and knew I couldn’t afford it, I agreed. I think I did sessions with her on and off for a year but eventually had to stop because I just couldn’t afford it. I wasn’t working at the time but was a full time student and a new mother trying to work her way to nursing school. I learned so much from my personal trainer and it ended up that we couldn’t cut ties just because I couldn’t afford it so instead we became workout buddies. I learned so much from her, Michelle is her name. I gained much more than a friend and workout buddy from Michelle. She gave me confidence, strength and a whole new outlook on my fitness goals. I no longer wanted to be “skinny”. I wanted to be strong and Michelle gave me the tools to make that happen. I am so grateful and lucky to have an amazing friend that was willing to take me under her wing when she by all means didn’t have to.

About 3 years ago, I got accepted into nursing school and was still able to maintain my fitness goals by weightlifting 3-4 times a week and counting my macros. Things were going well for me.

This stretch of time from my first born child to my second born child 4 years later, was the first time I didn’t hate my body. I didn’t want to change because I was unhappy with the way I looked, I wanted to see gains so I could achieve my goals of being strong. I never fully got there though because like I mentioned, I got pregnant with my second child the last year of nursing school.  What a crazy idea it was to get pregnant in nursing school. Pregnancy was fine, some mild back pain but overall it was a great pregnancy. These past 14 months since my son was born have been what was crazy. I graduated from nursing school one month before my son was born and began studying for the NCLEX 6 hours a day for the next 6 weeks. When my son was 2 weeks old, I took the NCLEX and passed. I thought that was the end of my stress and I would finally be able to breathe. Nope, not even close. Over the next couple months, I sent out job application after job application and went on interview after interview in search of my first nursing job. I cried all the time with the stress of finding a job and being a mom to now 2 boys.

I finally got hired in a neonatal ICU October 2018, just 4 months after my son was born. By this point, I had been diagnosed with postpartum depression and hypothyroidism. I struggled with loving my new born baby and myself all while starting a new career in an intense new unit. Needless to say, my stress was through the roof and I just couldn’t find the motivation to add one more thing to my plate by going to the gym and eating healthier. I tried over and over again to set goals and work on achieving them but I could not stay motivated. Goals were set for the New Year but I couldn’t meet them. Goals were once again set for my New York vacation in May 2019 and my California vacation in July 2019 but no success there. In June, I finally told myself to stop beating yourself up. This is you for now, not forever. If you need some time to just enjoy life and not worry about being on a “diet”, then take the time you need.

So here I am, trying not to hate myself for keeping my 20 extra pounds hanging on my hips. Trying to just love myself the way I am, be happy and enjoy my wonderful life with my husband and boys. But deep down I know I can’t maintain this mentality alongside my mindless eating. I know this because I refuse to look in the mirror at myself in fear I will cry in disgust as well I don’t let my husband see me when I change clothes. I can’t keep eating mindlessly and be without motivation and energy. So I signed up for this NEM pot challenge this fall with the goal to gain back my motivation, energy and strength that I once had. I am confident that I can see these 12 weeks through but also give me the motivation and energy to keep going beyond the 12 weeks.

 

Post 12 week update:

Tears come to my eyes reading what I wrote before I began the competition. After the 12 weeks, I can say that I did my best. Could I have done better? Yes, absolutely but even when I fell off track, I got back on without beating myself off or being derailed for weeks. I am not perfect by any means but I stayed determined to do better the next day. I began the competition at 181.4lbs and am now ending it at 167.8 lbs. I lost 13.6lbs and am so proud of that. I feel confident in my body, clothes are looser as well as pre-pregnancy pants are fitting once again.  And just because the competition is over, it doesn’t mean my determination to eat better and workout more have ended. I am still planning my meals according to my macros and being conscientious of what I consume. I am so happy I took advantage of this competition, I can’t say I would’ve done any of what I accomplished over the 12 weeks if I hadn’t joined the NEM pot challenge. I felt so supported and motivated and attribute my success to the group. This competition gave me the motivation and jump start I needed. Thank you all for the inspirational stories and words of encouragement.