Why I Created the Not Just A Mom Movement

I always struggled with my weight. In high school, all my friends wore bikinis to the beach and half shirts to show their bellies while I hid behind bulky shirts and one piece bathing suits. I was picked last in gym class and never ever even considered playing a sport because I never thought I could even get past the tryouts.

I was picked on by the boys because I was "developed" from a very young age. They used to call me "boobie monster", draw pictures of me and tape them to my locker, and so, so much more.

Luckily, I was social and had lots of friends. But the bullying still made me super, super self-conscience and kept me from being confident in my skin.

High School was interesting, to say the least...

I fluctuated with my weight all through my teens, twenties and into my early thirties. I would go on crash diets lose weight only to eventually gain it all back again. I never felt comfortable going to the gym. I was way to insecure to go in and try any classes or even pick up a weight.

I did, however, like to run. I ran a few miles here and there when I felt good or when wasn't feeling fat. I felt it was the one place I belonged, where I couldn't screw it up because no one was judging or watching me.

Fast forward to September 2013...

I was going in to give birth to my second daughter, and I can vividly remember getting weighed and saying, "Shit...if I weigh in at more than 200 pounds, I'm going to die." I'm 5 feet tall and I knew that I had not been kind to my body over the last couple years of pregnancy (my older daughter was 1 year old when my second was born).

Well...one foot at a time, I step onto the scale and see the numbers...204.1.

I couldn't believe it...what the hell had I done? I didn't die, obviously, but I was devastated. How did I get here?

After getting home and recovering from my c-section, I started the "diet" process. Low carb, juicing, starving myself, you name it I did it.

Then I was introduced to a nutritional cleansing program and within 3 months, I lost all the baby weight and I never felt better. Now, 4 years later, I am still maintaining my weight loss and I feel great.

But losing weight was not the only thing that changed. As I lost weight, I gained confidence and I started working out. I started slow with some hot yoga classes and started using the treadmill at the gym.  

I was so motivated and ready to take my fitness to another level that I even created my own private facebook group. I called it "Fit Mommas of Long Island" and as the group quickly grew, we started working out in the park, 25 mommas at a time, with our kids in tow!

My uncle was the Special Operations chief for the FDNY and we lost him on Sept 11th. Every year since 9.11, my family hosts a 5K here in our community on Long Island over Father's Day and every year, come April/May, I would start to "train" for the 5K. I'd run a couple of miles here or there to get myself "ready" for the 5K.

I remember the first year after I embarked on this new health and wellness journey, I was super excited for the 5K because I knew I was going to kill it!  

Then, in January of 2016, a friend of mine asked if I would be interested in running a half marathon with her. Aat first, I was like "Yeah...No. Not interested.". But with a little persuasion, she convinced me and I was registered for the NYC Woman's Shape 1/2.

Jennifer

I trained hard and although I felt great, it was so so hard! But I caught the bug. Two half marathons and a bunch of 5ks and 10ks later, I decided to run NYC marathon this past November.

The training was intense. I had two small kids, a husband who worked massive amounts of overtime, and lots of other obstacles that made training a total juggling act, but week after week I did it. I went out, ran my ass off, and as the race grew closer, I was feeling more and more confident.

But I never could have prepared myself for what would happen...

Less than one month before the marathon, one of my closest friends committed suicide leaving behind her husband and three small children. My life was turned upside down and my training was pretty much nonexistent. Between being there for my friend's husband, my kids, and my guilt and grief, I turned to food and alcohol more than I would like to admit. THEN, exactly one week to the day, we lost another friend to addiction. His funeral services were the day before the marathon. 

Leaving the service to head to the city that night was one of the hardest things I have ever done.  Emotionally and physically, my body was drained. I had committed to the race and knew I was going to complete it come hell or high water, but I was scared. I was sad and broken and overwhelmed with a ton of emotion.

But I crossed that finish line in four hours and 56 minutes and it felt amazing. I was so proud of myself and I ran for them. I knew they were there with me throughout the entire race, I know they were, and I immediately knew I would run NYC again this year. 

Running is in my blood. It is my release, and it's the one place and time I feel the most powerful, strong and confident.

But before I go, I have a bit more to share...

Earlier, I touched on that group I created, "Fit Mommas of Long Island". That group has truly become my "why". It's changed my life for the better, it's given me a path with purpose, and it has lit a fire inside me like nothing else has.

The name has changed, we are now, "Not Just a Mom Movement" and we're a community of thousands of moms that all come together to be the very best versions of ourselves. Together, we work through our struggles, share our experiences, and have a shoulder to cry on or a friend to laugh with.

We have workouts all over Long Island, all of which we keep the kids with us. We host amazing moms nights out where moms can get out for the night and have some fun. We have separate charity initiatives, where we spend time giving back to our local communities as well as for areas who have experienced disasters worldwide.

WE HAVE A RUNNING GROUP and its freaking fabulous! We create challenges and hold each other accountable. We motivate each other to step outside of our comfort zones. I have seen moms train for their first 5ks, then 10ks and now half marathons, and so much more!

I am currently working on growing the group into a go-to resource for all moms. I am excited and hopeful for the future of what Not Just a Mom Movement will bring to moms nationwide. 

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*For more information on how you can join the movement, you can find Just a Mom Movement on Facebook or via their website.