My Name is Mandi Kalmon. I’m a 26-year-old certified personal trainer from Wisconsin who aspires to see the world and help others learn the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle. From an early age, I’ve been mindful of health and taking care of my own body by being active and powering my body with natural foods. Throughout the years, I’ve gained knowledge through my own experiences and research, growing more passionate about wellness every day. From the moment I wake up to the second I go to sleep, I focus on living a healthy lifestyle, both mentally and physically, and wondering if I could help others step closer to attaining their optimal fitness levels. What if the knowledge that I have, that allows me to live a balanced life, could help others who may struggle with prioritizing their own health? I hope that you gain something from FIT. by Mandi to help you achieve your goals as they pertain to your own personal health, fitness, and happiness. Let’s get FIT together!
We all have our own story and our own struggles especially during adolescence. Our teenage years shape us into the adults we become, both good and bad traits included. I mean, is high school easy for anyone? I think it’s important for me to acknowledge my personal struggles and share my own health and fitness journey to give you a better understanding of who I am as a person and why I am so passionate about wellness.
How It All Started
As a 4th grader I remember thinking I was fat. At just 10 years old I remember “dieting”. I remember sitting at the kitchen table with a notebook planning out an exercise routine I'd do each day of the week and logging my daily food intake. I remember reading those Seventeen magazines and wondering why I didn't look like the models in them. Though I was never extremely overweight, I do recall a couple of instances in my early teenage years where there were comments made by ill-mannered classmates that definitely played a role in the way I viewed myself. To me it didn't feel like bullying, but it was those small passing comments that influenced me the most.
Growing up, I majorly lacked confidence because of the negative things I believed about myself, both appearance wise as well as my capabilities. I thought that my appearance was flawed, though I worked on changing it each day, and I felt as though I was never good enough at anything. I let others’ actions (ex-boyfriends, friends, peers) influence the way I viewed myself, which resulted in a very toxic relationship with my own mind and body. The first step to making a situation better is to find the source of the problem. Why was I filled with negative thoughts of myself? Why did I let others make me feel flawed?
Upon reflection of my pre-college years, I self-diagnosed myself with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, which naturally lead to episodes of depression and anxiety. Everyone has minor things that they’d prefer to change about themselves, me included, but I obsessed over fixing them. Physically, the way I saw myself was nothing like how others viewed me. Because of this, and the fact that middle and high school girls aren’t very nice, I was very vulnerable, causing others’ words to become my reality.
As a kid, I was taught to eat what I was given and though I was thankful that I had food to eat, this often lead to overeating which resulted in developing a poor relationship with food early on. Being that I was uneducated about proper nutrition for the majority of my life, I thought that eating less was better and to steer clear of carbohydrates. I know now that these sorts of myths couldn't be less accurate, but back then I went through phases of very restrictive dieting, which never lasted long and were followed by episodes of guilt and self-disappointment. Although I never developed a major eating disorder, the negative way that food impacted my life significantly contributed to the constant battle I was having with my mental body image.
While my teammates in middle school sports would consistently eat fast food after tournaments, yet be stick figures regardless of what they put into their bodies, I was more conscious about the nutrients (or lack thereof) that I was consuming. At the time it was very frustrating, wondering how these girls can eat the way they do and still be thin. I always knew that genetics played a role in this, but it made me resentful of my own make up, my own body. But something that I will always be thankful for is the awareness of what it means to take care of my body at an early age. Maybe I didn’t always get to enjoy McDonald’s after basketball games and ice cream after practice like the rest of the kids my age, but what I did get were life-long habits that would help me lead a consistent, healthy life, and for that I will always be thankful.
One of the hardest obstacles to overcome is getting the idea of a “diet” out of your head and finding balance. Diets are not sustainable and in order to succeed in a healthy lifestyle you need to find balance. Trial and error is how I learned what is sustainable for my body and mental health, but it took many years to get there. And you know what? That is okay! It’s never too late to get fit. It’s never too late to change the way you live your life, for the better of course.
Our bodies do so much for us; human bodies are incredibly complex and astonishing creations so it’s only fair that we fuel them with nutrients that they need to function optimally and proper exercise to strengthen them. I mean seriously, our tiny feet support and carry around our massive bodies each and every day for the length of our lives. Internally, our bodies are capable of absorbing nutrients from the foods we consume to energize our bodies. AMAZING. So why not help our bodies do these everyday tasks by fueling it with nutritious foods? Once I began to educate myself on nutritional sciences, I could listen to my body and give it the nutrients that it needs in order to be healthy.
Learning to Love Myself
Once I realized that this wasn’t how I had to live my life, I began to take action, making small adjustments daily to change my mindset and live in positivity. Being able to admit to your flaws is an important trait because you can then begin to find solutions and discover new things about yourself along the way.
My journey thus far has not been easy, and I still have a way to go, but I’m a firm believe if you want something bad enough, you’re capable of making anything happen with consistent hard work. Happiness and fitness will be a lifelong journey–even when I reach my goals, I will always be looking ahead and setting new milestones to tackle, and I encourage you to do the same!
What I've Learned
Invest in yourself. Invest in your health. Invest in your happiness. No one is going to think you’re selfish for prioritizing your own mental state, and if they do, then they aren’t the kind of person worth keeping in your life.
It's easy to look at people who are fit and think that they have it better than you and that their fitness journey was much easier than your own. Everybody has to start somewhere. Everybody has their own personal struggles. Odds are, it’s not easy for anyone. Don’t feel sorry for yourself–be thankful that you have the opportunity every day to wake up and make healthy changes. The only thing stopping you is you.
I am also a firm believer that knowledge is power. Never. Stop. Learning. Everything you do, every terrible job you have, every person you meet, there is always something to learn from it. Invest in your education, invest in yourself. To supplement my current knowledge and passion for fitness, I became a certified personal trainer. I can’t imagine a career more rewarding than helping others lead a healthy life. Putting in work and watching your body respond is the most uplifting feeling, knowing that your dedication is the reason for the positive changes you’re experiencing. Fitness for me is just as much of a mental thing as it is physical. Yes, aesthetics are great, but what’s even more great is having confidence, feeling comfortable in your own body, and as a result, being happy.
I’ve been in very dark places before, hating my body, hating how I looked and hating how I felt about myself in every aspect. I lacked confidence. I lacked happiness, and I let my negative thoughts control my life. I just want you to know, whoever may be reading this, if you feel this way about yourself, if you feel embarrassed, depressed, or know you need to make changes in your life to start living a healthier lifestyle, but don’t know where to start, or just want someone to talk to, PLEASE reach out to me. Whether we’ve met, or we are complete strangers, I want to be a source of positivity and inspiration for you or simply just somebody to talk to with no judgement. Everyone’s situation is unique, but I know how I’ve felt at my worst moments, and I would not wish anyone to have to feel that way, though, sadly, I suspect many young women, and men, do.
Life Outside of Fitness
If you can’t find me at the gym or in the kitchen, I’m likely out traveling the world, spending time with my family & friends, or enjoying cuddles from my cats. I have 2 cats, Luna and Leo, and they are my world. I attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for 4 years, where I received a bachelor's degree in both Economics and Spanish and was fortunate enough to study abroad twice, spending a winter break in San Jose, Costa Rica and a semester in Granada, Spain (my favorite place in the whole entire world) working on my Spanish skills, experiencing the culture, and forming lifelong international friendships. I will always be a huge advocate for travel and spending money on experiences, not things–throwing yourself into unique cultures is truly enriching.
Guys. We all have different goals. We all have a unique idea of what a perfect life or body may be, but whatever it is your striving to be, whatever it is that you’re working towards each day, just make sure that, above all, it’s healthy.
Thank you for reading this and thank you for your support.