Stevensville, MI

There's a moment in life when everything clicks into place, and for me, it happened when I finally started doing things for myself. It was a transformative realization - I no longer needed to be invisible, to shrink, or to conform to anyone else's expectations. Instead, I embraced my own strength, understanding that it was perfectly okay to take up space in this world, both physically and metaphorically.

I learned that muscles didn't define my masculinity and that carbohydrates weren't the enemy of fitness. I came to accept that cellulite and rolls were normal, and, yes, I unabashedly indulged in cinnamon rolls in bed night after night for a couple of months. Regret? Not a single calorie.

But perhaps the most significant lesson was accepting that my body no longer resembled the one I had in my twenties, a time before parenthood blessed me with four amazing kids. My body had seen the scale tip over 200 pounds during pregnancy, and my nipples had their own gravitational pull, but none of that was cause for shame or insecurity. It was all part of the journey.

After my son Axel arrived, I didn't rush to regain what some might call "shape." I respected my body and refused to deprive myself of life's pleasures - including Donut Fridays (and sometimes Thursdays). As a personal trainer, I grappled with the idea that people might not take me seriously unless I fit a certain image. But I came to realize that the way my body looked had nothing to do with my knowledge or education.

I've experienced times when my body has been heavier or leaner, and that's okay. It's also a fact that our thoughts can either empower or imprison us. I've learned that the most valuable currency we possess is the impact we have on others. And I've discovered that our bodies either burn or build, but not both simultaneously.

Deprivation is no longer part of my vocabulary - whether it's in relation to food, fresh air, or a little chaos. I've prioritized self-love and preservation. I've come to understand that my children are watching me closely, and I need to lead by example.

In a world where filters and Photoshop often blur reality, I've come to embrace my imperfections as a means of helping others feel comfortable with their own insecurities. I've learned that health isn't a hobby; it's a lifelong commitment. My lifestyle may deviate from the norm, but it's my normal.

Perhaps my journey isn't about becoming anything in particular. Maybe it's about unbecoming everything that wasn't truly me from the start.