Teresa Gray: MOLO 2020 Mom of the Year
YOU ARE SO WORTH IT!
Winners Receive Prizes From:
In Teresa's Words
"Just be happy.
"That’s all my husband ever asked of me. Sounds easy, right? But it wasn’t...not for me.
"I wasn’t happy with myself as a person, wife, or mother. I had completely let myself go and was using the, “I just had a baby excuse” for far too long. I never imagined how hard it was going to be when I went back to work and had two young kids to take care of at night, alone. I planned everything else in my life, except my meals. I absolutely HATED cooking, so I avoided it at all cost. I found myself ordering lunch multiple times a week at work, stopping at a drive thru for dinner, and skipping my workouts. I began avoiding mirrors, friends, my husband, and my clothes. Carryout bags that were once filled with fruit, grilled chicken, and salads, were suddenly filled with fried foods, and cookies...you can’t forget the cookies! My two-year-old son even began asking for cookies every time he saw someone hand a bag through the car window. I was ashamed of the example I was setting for him, but I couldn’t stop.
"MOLO could not have come at a better time for me. I needed it more than I wanted to admit. I knew I had hit my all time low when I got on the scale at the start of MOLO and I weighed more than I did when I was 41 weeks pregnant with my second child. Reality set in, and it was staring me in the face. It was the mirror I couldn’t avoid anymore. I knew I needed to prioritize my health, and myself, and MOLO was the perfect way to do this. When I put my mind to something, I do it with everything I have, good or bad.
"I knew I needed to plan my meals if I wanted to be successful. Every Sunday, I forced myself to sit down and write all of my meals on my calendar and order all of my groceries I needed. One of my goals was to eat out less than twice a week, so writing down what I was going to cook for every meal helped me accomplish this goal. As a full-time working mom of two kids under three, who is also a single parent throughout the week, having a plan for lunches and dinners was a must! My co-workers began staring at the food I was bringing and asking for ideas of their own. My desk during my lunch break would be full of everything I was measuring, weighing, and tracking, including my latest purchase for my mini fridge at work...a Brita filter pitcher. I would fill up that pitcher 3 times a day. My goal was to drink 100 ounces of water a day, and I knew I had to fill up my cup at least 5 times to accomplish that. This meant a lot of bathroom breaks at work, but I was able to ONLY drink water for all of MOLO! I gave up Diet Coke and alcohol, which I thought was hard during friend game nights the first 8 weeks, but I had no idea how hard it was going to be for the last 2 weeks when we were quarantined in our houses! I managed to do it; even when everyone else was drinking wine on our virtual game nights, I was drinking water.
"I found myself cooking more than I have in my entire life and actually enjoying it! I was trying new foods, foods that I used to avoid eating, and I was actually loving them. Cabbage? Kale? Who knew?! I even used new kitchen appliances that I used to stay away from. Hello, instant pot! Why have I been avoiding you? My two-year-old son started saying, “Mom, what are you cooking for dinner?” and “Are we going to bootcamp tonight?” instead of saying, “Mom, are there cookies in that bag?” and “What movie are we going to watch tonight?” Seeing my two kids enjoy the food I was making and hearing my oldest thank me for cooking, was the best feeling in the world. I was finally setting the example I had dreamed of for my kids.
"This MOLO has taught me habits that I will take with me long after MOLO's end. And, I now have meals I know how to cook and foods I know I need to keep in my kitchen to be successful with healthy eating and living a healthy lifestyle. The last 2 weeks of MOLO should have been the hardest with all of the life changes, but for me, they weren’t. They were different, don’t get me wrong, but they were manageable. Forcing myself to still sit down on Sundays and write out all of my meals helped me stay on track. I definitely wasn’t eating out, even the 2 times I had allowed myself to get the occasional salad or burrito bowl in the first 8 weeks, and I continued to workout, even more than I was in the beginning, thanks to be able to work from home. I exceeded my workout goals and learned how much I value this mom-strong community. I never thought I would say I enjoyed working out in a group setting. I always used to compare myself to others and felt embarrassed if I wasn’t at the same level of the other people. However, after joining this community of women, none of that ever crosses my mind! Thankfully, we were able to still have virtual workouts, which helped me stay on track for the last 2 weeks, but they also showed me how much I am meant to be a part of MOMLETA.
"I NEED the motivation of working out with other moms. I NEED their support and I NEED the accountability. The love and support from the other women in our classes is invaluable to me, and it keeps me going from class to class. We truly are a family and I have never had so much unconditional support from other women in my life.
"Some of my MOLO goals had to change a bit, but that didn’t mean they had to stop. Date nights turned into binge watching Netflix series once the kids went to bed, and my daily reflections became a multiple-times-a-day kind of reflection. I truly enjoyed the added family time I was getting and continuing to be healthy and implement what I learned from the first 8 weeks, helped me get through the last 2 successfully. I was not going to let this change in my routine, let’s face it, change in the world, ruin the work I had put in since January. So, as I sit down to reflect on the past 8 weeks, on the night of my last baby’s first birthday, I can honestly say I am happy. Just happy. Not just happy that my clothes fit again, or that I can walk by a mirror and actually like what I see; but happy that I learned how to cook, how to eat healthy, how to date my husband again, how to enjoy time with my family, and how to set the right examples for my kids. MOLO truly brought me back to life and gave me the confidence and self-love that I had lost."
"I have had the privilege of training Teresa now through 3 MOLOs. Each one has been a different journey for her, but each one she has taken the opportunity to really invest in herself during MOLO season.
"Her first MOLO was 'Find Your Fire' & I feel like that year she most certainly did! She got stronger & faster & I will never forget how quick she was moving during her fitness testing that year...so strong! Last year during MOLO, which was themed 'Choose Love', Teresa was pregnant with baby #2. Again she embraced that focus & continued to prioritize class & self-care even while pregnant, which can be so difficult. Both of those MOLOs she was in the top 5 in her category, so she has always been a strong MOLO contender. She has always been dedicated to class, however when she went back to teaching last fall, the demands of her job, 2 kiddos under the age of 3 at home & a husband who works a lot at night, Teresa found it difficult to balance all the things. It is such a hard balance to find self-care in the midst of the demands of being a working mom, mom guilt is real & there never seems to be enough of you to go around.
"Teresa was always open with me about the struggles she was facing when I would reach out and check in with her, telling her I missed her smiling face & sweet kiddos regularly at class. I was not giving up on her though. I knew that mama who recorded a crazy amount of burpees that first MOLO was still in there, she had just been detoured a bit by life. By the time the new year & MOLO rolled around, I think she knew I was at the point of showing up at her house & dragging her to class (we are neighbors) & by this time she was ready. She was ready to use MOLO as her catalyst for change & get her smile back as she liked to say!
"This MOLO theme again seamlessly seemed to align with Teresa's current season of life, 'You are so worth it'. With all the hats moms wear it is a hard thing to remember, but oh so important. When you make the time for self-care, whether it be meal planning, exercising, or just taking 5 minutes to breathe, you fill up a little bit of your cup & then can pour back into your family. I knew from our initial MOLO kickoff meeting Teresa was on a mission to find herself again & she was remembering she was worth it. She had very well thought out goals set for the challenge & a solid plan in place for her nutrition & exercise. She also embraced a piece of MOLO I love, but I feel is often overlooked, & that is the chance to set goals that will deepen relationships during this time with family & friends, because that too is a form of self-care. I was so proud of Teresa for setting some difficult nutrition goals & sticking with them, even when the world literally came crumbling down around us the last two weeks of this challenge she stuck with them. She gave up diet soda & alcohol for the entire MOLO & drank only water. She also focused on meal prepping & whole food nutrition & tracking her food, making sure she was aware of what she was fueling her body with & trying to eliminate as much junk as possible. I mean let's be honest, to stick with drinking only water & still meal prepping & focusing on whole food nutrition when the COVID-19 pandemic hit deserves some serious applause!
"Watching her passion for cooking develop was so fun! She would share some of her food pics with the group & stories about how she loved seeing her kids enjoying the meals she was making. That is a huge win & should be celebrated! Teresa set her class goal & she hit it every week, oftentimes even hit more classes than she had set for herself. Watching her find her strength again was one of my MOLO highlights as her trainer. Every class, every rep, she got a little stronger. I watched that strength & confidence in the movements come back so effortlessly, her muscles had not forgotten & they were welcoming the challenge. There were a few times in the beginning of her return to regular classes I could see that slight pause when she was hitting a wall, but she did not pause for long. Teresa pressed through & got back in every single exercise. Every. Single. Time. The grit she showed in classes this year stood out to me & will be one of the things I remember most from her journey this year.
Year one it was her burpee pace, year two her sweet baby bump rocking some burpees, & this year it was her continuing to pick herself up off that mat time after time, burpee after burpee, pushup after pushup, she did not quit! Again every year for her a very different journey, but always a constant theme with this mama, she always gets back up.
Each season you go thru as a mama may affect the speed with which you get back up, but be like this mama & always RISE! She also embraced the wellness aspect of the challenge that wasn't focused on nutrition or classes, but rather self-care & family/friend connection. She hit all of the daily & weekly wellness challenges & used the time to focus on her relationship with her husband. As I mentioned earlier I feel like this is an often overlooked aspect of this challenge but one that really does yield some very sweet fruit & long-lasting mental & relational changes. All in all, Teresa not only embraced each aspect of the MOLO 2020 challenge but she rocked them and engrained them so deeply into her & her family's lifestyle that not even a pandemic has shaken them! She is still exercising virtually on the regular, still meal planning & focusing on her wellness & most importantly she has her smile back, which I know was one of her main goals from this challenge!
And I am happy to report that the girl who busted out those burpees in my living room that first MOLO & rocked that sparkly dress to the awards ceremony was still in there & not only did she reappear this MOLO but she came back better than ever, not just placing this year but winning her category & our location!"