Monday, January 8, 2018

A "People Experience"

This still feels like a dream! The realization of how BIG this is did not hit me until much later after working on the project. It honestly didn't hit me until about 2 weeks before the issue hit newsstands. When I told family and contacts (on a need to know basis), they were telling me how huge of an accomplishment it was. I said, thanks or thank you and tried not to act like it was a huge deal.... even though it was! I didn't really feel the impact of the whole thing until much later. When People Magazine asked me to be a part of their Half Their Size issue, I was super excited and anxious, of course. You guys wanna know the whole story behind all of this and how it came to be?!

This all started when I saw the People Magazine, "Half Their Size: Collector's edition" at Walgreen's back in April while standing in line to checkout. It's like the issue called my name and told me to look over. I look over, read the title, and it immediately captured my attention. I left hubby in line to take a few steps over to the section to look at it. I had never heard of it before I saw the issue and I thought to myself, "Wow, wouldn't that be an amazing accomplishment to end up in that magazine!" 

1-2 months later in May or June (I can't remember), I saw an Instagram post of a woman who was featured in the Summer/May The Bodies issue, which is their swimsuit edition for weight loss stories that featured 6 women that had lost 100 lbs. Note: Just putting it out there... I'd love to do that issue one day also! ๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜‰ Haha! Anyways, I recognized her as I had came across her Facebook at the very beginning of my journey. I was super happy for her! And kept talking about it non stop to my hubby in the car when I saw it. I told him that they flew her out for the photo shoot and I kept saying how lucky and amazing she was, which then had me talking about what I like to call..... a "People Experience." I have seen numerous girls throughout social media talk about being featured in People Magazine and how much of an awesome experience it was. 

I turned to my hubby and said...... 

"I don't even know how you make this happen and it seems so far-fetched and out of reach, but I want to make this a goal of mine. I want to make it a goal of mine to be featured in People Magazine one day and have a "People Experience".... I don't even know if it would ever happen, how long it would take, or even how to make it happen, but all I can and will do is continue doing what I am doing and working hard."

After that night and moment we had... I posted a transformation photo and a photo in my hotel room from my bodybuilding competition on Instagram and used half my size and half their hashtags one or twice, but later on I learned that's not how they found me. I continued working hard until I had a fall out during the summer when I learned that I would not be going to London to compete on the WBFF World Stage for a world title after winning an invite to compete. After that, I was left in shambles and a million pieces with the aftermath of my preps. You can read about all of that HERE and HERE. In June, I unplugged from my blog and all social media for 2 months. During that time, I had many worried and wondering where I had went. I had no idea how long I would be gone. I didn't go unplugged without an explanation and people were able to know a little behind the reason why, but didn't know everything until I came back. During my time away, I received emails with good news/updates on my STRONG Fitness Mag feature and from's TRAIN for HER Mag wanting to feature me. So, good things did happen while I was away. I also went on a small vacation to my happy place... Wisconsin Dells up north. I did come back rejuvenated and ready to fight, work hard and continue crushing goals again.

Things were looking up and I had a lot to look forward to after I came back. One month later... in September I got this feeling. You guys know (if you've been following long enough or reading my blog).... the signs/feelings that I always get before something good happens, whether it's the realization of a path that I should be taking, or something else that is good. I don't get that with every good thing that comes my way in life. Just certain ones for some reason. I couldn't pinpoint the reason why I was getting that feeling and what that good thing was that was coming. I had a lot of guesses though and one of them turned out to be true later on (BBCOM). I turned to hubby that night after he got off of work and said......

"I got a feeling earlier. I got a feeling that something good is going to happen before the year is over. I don't know what it is, but it's something good. And the feeling is so strong and powerful!"

One week later, I received an email from People Magazine!!!! It was just me and Harlie Jade at home. Hubby was at work. Before I even opened the email, all I did was read the subject line in my task bar on my phone and I screamed and cried and jumped around the living room! My daughter didn't know what to think at first as she watched me and then she started laughing and jumping around with me. These episodes of freaking out lasted for a few hours until my hubby came home and I was able to share the news with him.

The weeks leading up to the photo shoot was an exciting, but very difficult time for me. My anxiety and the stress was getting the best of me. I was breaking out in mysterious rashes.The last time I had dealt with rashes like that was when I was in my second year of dealing with my neurological issues. My neurological symptoms reared it's ugly head and surfaced. Still dealing with it at this moment in time and hope to find the answer soon as to what I am dealing with. I was feeling physically sick and at one point.... I was feeling so nauseous one night after I came home from the store that I thought I had come down with the stomach flu and thought I was going to vomit anytime that night. Never did though as I was able to lay down and finally get some rest that night. That was about a week leading up to my trip and shoot. It wasn't the photo shoot itself that I was stressing about really... It was the video interviews that we had to do that was really getting to me and also the fact that I might of had to fly out to NYC alone and meet J and HJ out there. Long story short... at first we had different flights out due to an error. I ended up receiving my travel itinerary one week later than when I was actually suppose to receive it. So, by the time Jeremy and Harlie Jade got tickets, my flight had already been sold out. In the end, spots opened up and we ended up paying extra money on our end to change their flights, so that they were able to fly in with me. Luckily, we all had the same flights coming back.

I kept thinking to myself numerous times about pulling out of the project because I was so nervous and I was thinking to myself....

In the end, will this all be worth the anxiety and stress that I am putting my body through?

I wasn't even this nervous in the days leading up to my bodybuilding competition. Even though I was just as nervous in the moments before stepping on that stage to the point to where my legs were shaking so badly that I didn't think I'd be able to walk out there.... I didn't feel nearly half of what I was feeling before my competition that I was feeling in the days leading up to this project.

Will I look and sound stupid during my video interview?! Maybe I should just pull out.

The night before we flew out, we had most things packed, but I was still left alone and up very late into the night finishing up. I was only able to get 2 hours of sleep, so I wasn't really in the best mood that morning. My flight out there was very nerve-wrecking, which is unusual for me because I love to fly and I enjoy all of my flights. However, this one was not so pleasant. I was nervous af! Nauseous af! And I was having a slight panic as we were taking off. Thoughts of 9/11 popped into my head, which made my panic attack even stronger. I was afraid of not getting there safely. And many many people on my flight including my husband were sick. ๐Ÿ˜ท๐Ÿ˜ท HJ enjoyed her flight and I was very upset and sad that I couldn't share her joy and enjoy it with her. I kinda felt like a bad mom because of the situation. 

After we landed, we were scheduled to head straight to the studio for my fitting before checking into our hotel. We had a yummy lunch and even though I had no appetite because I was so nervous and tired, I couldn't even fully enjoy my sandwich. HJ on the other hand had a freaking blast. She ate a crap load of blueberries and ran around exploring and getting to know her surroundings.

Yep, that's the look of a woman who is running off of 2 hours of sleep. I look just like this when I am running off of the same amount of sleep for a huge race or competition, haha. Yet, somehow I always manage to pull through and I never know how that always happens. ๐Ÿ’

No words! ๐Ÿ˜‘๐Ÿ˜‚

I got a few questions on social media about the clothing.

Was your wardrobe pre-selected? Weeks leading up to the shoot, I was asked various questions such as, "Are you comfortable wearing dresses?" Etc. When I got there... they had a selection of clothes for me to try on.

Did you get to keep the outfits? I wish because they were cute!

After my fitting, I met a few of the girls who were part of the project on my way out. We left to check in to our hotel, which was right down the street. We were in Manhattan. The weather was beautiful until later that evening. The temps quickly plummeted and I had just realized that I forgot HJ's coat at home. She was still sleeping when we had put in the car on our way to the airport, so we didn't want to put a heavy jacket on her. We put her in a hoodie to keep her warm and comfortable in the car. Problem with that was we forgot her jacket. I could have sworn I asked hubby to grab it on his way out, but my mind was everywhere... so who knows... I had a shitty mom moment and almost cried because I let that happen. So, our plans to head out to Times Square before it got dark quickly died. We walked around the Manhattan area to find her a jacket.  Not only did she get a CUTE jacket in New York... but it was also on sale at Century 21, which I totally thought was an insurance company when I first heard the name. ๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜ She gets so many compliments on it back home. 

We ended up getting dinner and calling it a night. I wasn't feeling well and I was in bed by 6:30 pm. Woke up 2 hours later around 8:30 pm. Was up for about 30 minutes, ate something and went back to sleep. I got a lot of sleep, but it was still broken sleep. Woke up bright and early and headed downstairs to the lobby to meet the other girls. The cars were taking us to Cutler Salon to get makeovers!!!!!! HOW FUN!!!!! 

Left to right: Morgan, Bonnie, Melody, and yours truly... me! ๐Ÿ˜„

Photo credit: Melody? Is this your photo?! I got it from Facebook.

Getting a microphone put on me. Rockin' the sweats and hoodie cause that's what I do when I'm exhausted. ๐Ÿ˜…

Photo credit: Morgan, I believe you took this...

I met my stylist, Jocelyn! She was so sweet with such a badass personality and style to match. Together we decided not to go too drastic. We loved my color, so decided not to change it or add highlights. I told her I didn't mind cutting it as long as it is not too much and continued to explain to her that I have PCOS, so it was very hard to grow my hair out to the length that it was at the time. 

FYI: With PCOS it is common to deal with thinning hair and hair loss on your head as a symptom of the disease. And everywhere else on our body... let's just say... hair loves to grow in all the places we don't want it to!   

She understood. We decided to go with a trim of about an inch, maybe a little more, since it had been 6 years since I last had it cut. In 2011, I had a Britney Spears moment and chopped off all my hair myself and had hubby fix it. ๐Ÿ˜• Haven't touched it or let anyone else touch it with scissors since. 

We also decided to go with layers to shape it up a bit. She decided to do a glaze to bring out my color with a shine and a protein treatment (love those!!). Oh, and can I just say... Jocelyn... you give the BEST head massages girl! You had me so comfortable that I was comfortably napping, minutes at a time anyways, during my waiting time to let the product sit.

After the salon, we headed straight to the studio to get to work. I went into hair touch ups and makeup first. So, that means I also went first for the first part of my photo shoot and the video interview. I guess it was better to get it done with versus sitting around nervous af! I had on a maroon color long sleeve top that was crisscross and low cut (which I loved!), black jeans and boots. This outfit and part of the shoot was for potential cover photos!

I got a few questions on social media about the hair and makeup.

Did you have any input on hair and makeup? Yes. I had input with hair. My salon stylist and I came up with a plan that we were both happy with. Trim, glaze, protein treatment, and a beachy loose wave look. Makeup... they had free range. I let them work their magic. I knew they were trying to go with a more natural look when it came to the makeup.

Next, was my video interview. It was very awkward, I was shaking in my chair because I was so nervous. I also had to redo some of my awesome answers, which weren't so awesome the second time around because I forgot to turn my phone off of vibrate and it started vibrating and I was told they couldn't use that. Well.....damn.... *face palm*

After that, I got into my next outfit for the next part of the shoot. I was IN LOVE with this outfit!!! The sweater was definitely my style and so were the leggings.

More hair and makeup touch ups!

I felt so freaking beautiful! Love this look! If only I could create this on a weekly basis. FYI: as soon as we were done shooting for the day, my hair fell instantly! LOL! ๐Ÿ˜ž๐Ÿ˜ฃ


๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ Yep, it fell that quickly on my way out after the shoot. I need this magic to last this gal an entire day without stylists at my side. Is that too much to ask?!

I guess so! ๐Ÿ˜ฉ๐Ÿ˜œ

After day 1 of the shoot Hubby and HJ were suppose to meet me, but we were running behind, so we wrapped it up a little late. If my memory serves me correctly. And they couldn't get ready on time and it was too cold to drag HJ out for no reason. So, here I am walking in Manhattan, ALONE, back to my hotel. I felt a little anxiety, but also excitement as I was super proud of myself for everything I was currently accomplishing big and small. To most people, walking down the street should be a simple task. Walking down the street in an unknown place, a little nerve wracking, but they do it without feeling like it's the end of the world. To someone with anxiety... it could feel like the end of the world if you're forced to walk the streets of an unknown place by yourself. Luckily, I was fine and I actually enjoyed my walk back despite the cold.

Walking alone in NYC! Like who is this girl, seriously?!

Enjoying a killer view before dinner.

That night, I still didn't get a lot of sleep. My body was mentally and physically worn out. I was excited to push through and finally finish up the project and head home for some much needed relaxation and mental/physical recovery.

Hair and make up day 2...

Morgan and I in hair and makeup - Day 2.

Photo credit: Morgan

We had trouble getting all 6 of us together outside of the shoot. 2 were always missing.

Somebody sneaking behind the scene photos! Lol! Not sure who took this.

Photo credit: Morgan, I got this from you girl!

Photo credit: Morgan

This lovely photo was taken by that blonde bombshell (Morgan) you see above my pictureใ…กoff on the right. 

So proud of all of us!
Photographer: Perry Hagopian

We finished up the shoot early on day 2. On my way out...... 

Afterwards, my family and I headed up towards Times Square since we didn't get a chance to check it out on the first day we were there. Our flight was at 8:30 pm, so we were pressed for time seeing as how traffic was extremely crazy going to Times Square. 

Despite crazy traffic to the airport after we left Times Square, we made it on time. However, our 8:30 pm flight was delayed by 2 hours. ๐Ÿ˜– But my flight home was comfortable. 

Love red eye flights!

I honestly forgot where we were when I took this. Home I think. ๐Ÿ˜• Anyways, I got this girl addicted to travelling. She is always asking when we are going to the airport to get on the plane. ๐Ÿ˜‚ Also, I don't ride those things they are on. I fell the last time I was on one because I couldn't balance even just hanging on and almost busted my sh*t! I'll burn the extra cals walking and save myself the embarrassment. ๐Ÿ˜‚

Tuesday, January 2nd I found out I was People Magazine's cover girl. A lot of you have asked if I already knew that I was going to be on the cover. The answer is no. It was a total surprise. In fact, I was expecting to see at least 2 girls on the cover and 3 max based off of previous covers. When I found out it was me and only me...well...I freaked out A LOT! I was very excited, yet nervous and scared at the same time. I kept asking myself why they chose just me, or me at all!! I don't know the whole process that goes behind who makes the cover of a magazine, but all I know is... it is an honor and I will proudly wear the title! To see a girl with severe levels of anxiety on the cover of a mag is just mind blowing. 

I went through A LOT mentally and physically to make this a reality for me. To push myself and to continuing growing as a person. That is just how my life works. I have to go through a great deal of trouble and struggles before I can reap the rewards for ANYTHING. Nothing comes easy for me and I worked hard for everything that I have accomplished thus far. And it always turns out to be better than I had ever expected. It has been like that with every experience so farใ…ก Fitness Atlantic, couple of highlight races, etc. And my People experience was no differentใ…ก travel itinerary a week late, flight troubles, extra money spent, hubby sick, HJ being an extra pain in the butt and moody more than usual, panic and anxiety attacks, etc. 


It all worked out in the end like it always does. I must admit... it really was worth it. It was worth all the stress and anxiety I put myself through. I am so glad that I did it. Even though I was super overwhelmed, stressed, anxious and quiet as a mouse... I was really grateful, excited, and fortunate to be there and a part of this whole thing! I ended up having a lot of fun during the photo shoot once I got a little more comfortable with everyone and my surroundings.

Photographer: Perry Hagopian

I was even asking myself.... when/what's the next adventure?! I would definitely do it again! And this time, with a little more confidence than before... and maybe a little more easier than the first time??? It's all about experience, right? Can't be good at something without gaining experience. This along with several life changing and amazing opportunities opened up a whole new world to me that I never thought I could be a part of. Can't wait to see what's next for me.

Stepping outside of your comfort zone can be difficult and even crippling when you throw anxiety and panic attacks into the mix, but in the end... it's also very rewarding. This experience has taught me just a little bit more about being an independent person as I've always been more dependent due to crippling anxiety. Most importantly I've learned that I can do more things on my own without feeling like I need someone there physically next to me holding my hand at every step of the way. Now, don't get me wrong... there is absolutely nothing wrong with needing help every so often, especially during the tough times, but when it happens so often to where you lose your independence it becomes a huge problem. Especially when you already with suffer with anxiety. You become so dependent on others that it is hard to actually go out and do things for yourself and by yourself. I fight with this everyday.

"This experience was more than just a celebration of my weight loss. This was a celebration of my life. My story. My journey. My truth. My fight." 

I'm not going to get into another long thank you speech because it's all down below on Facebook ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

Reveal/Thank you Video: If you haven't seen my reveal/thank you live video... head on over to facebook (here) to see it! 

A little fact... I stood around for 15 minutes trying to get myself to do this while hubby was constantly teasing me by telling me he was already live (he also got punched in the arm quite a few times too ๐Ÿ‘Š)... before I actually took the plunge to just do it. ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ’†

To stay up-to-date on the latest news with People Magazine's Half Their Size, follow along on my blog Facebook and Instagram with IG Stories and the Stories highlight folder on my page dedicated to "Half Their Size" news.

Thanks for reading!

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