Every few months, Toni and I get together to talk about the future of Model Behaviors—where we can improve, where we’ve seen growth, and any big ideas we might have for the site. In the fall of last year, Toni mentioned this idea of the Mommy Makeover Contest. I could tell she’d been thinking on it for a while because she already had a pretty solid direction of what she hoped the contest could be. What I remember most from this meeting was that she wanted it to be more than just a contest. We’d use the term “makeover” because people would recognize it, but we were going to help women learn skills that would last a lifetime, that would carry them beyond the contest, and that would transform their lives.
Whoa, I thought. This is big. Bigger than anything we’ve ever done. If we pull it off, this is going to be an incredible experience for the women who’re chosen, not to mention it’ll help showcase what MB is all about. But if we don’t pull it off…
I stopped myself there. I didn’t want to imagine what failure would look like because I believe, somewhere deep inside, I already knew we could do this. It would take a lot of work, a lot of organizing, and a lot of dedication, but I could envision us doing this and doing it well.
Fast-forward to now, more than half a year later and we’re on the other side of the contest. We ended it with Renee’s Makeover Story: Parts One and Two, and although we still have a few tricks up our sleeve, for the most part, the contest is over. Toni and I have learned a lot—about ourselves, about community, and about Model Behaviors.
For me, I’m a very emotional person. Not only do I actively try to express my emotions without shame or embarrassment, but when I think back on things, it’s the emotion of the moments that stand out to me. I may not have the best memory for detail or specifics, but I can definitely recall emotions. Our last revamp was in December, and it was right around that time that we were deep in planning for the Mommy Makeover Contest. Thinking back, here are some of the biggest emotional moments that I can recall over the past six months.
- Reading the entries for the Mommy Makeover Contest. This was when I knew we had something special. Up until this moment, everything was a hope. Toni and I hoped that women would enter, and we hoped that they would be honest with us about why they were entering. I cried reading every single entry because each woman put her fullest, most genuine heart into her response. Every single woman who entered deserved to be part of the contest, and the responses floored me.
- Announcing the participants and sending out emails to let our five contestants know they’d been selected. I think I was just as nervous as our participants at this moment. We were asking each of them to commit three months of their life to this contest. This is not a small thing to ask of anyone, but each of these women were moms too! Once they understood what all they would be doing, would they still be willing to participate? Luckily, each woman wrote back with enthusiasm and excitement, and then we were off!
- The first video chat. First of all, I was extremely nervous about the technical side of this. We were going to have all of our coaches and participants on a live-streaming video chat together. This was a big challenge for Toni and me. Although there were technical difficulties, we eventually got the conversation flowing, and after we all got off the chat, I felt so energized and motivated. Again, our participants brought their A-game. They were ready to talk about difficult things, and they were ready to set some challenging but realistic goals. Toni, Priya, and I—who were all over at Toni’s house—couldn’t get our words out fast enough as soon as we got off the chat! Much like when I was reading the entries, I felt like we’d tapped into something deep and profound with these women, and I was eager to see how it would develop over the rest of the contest.
- Seeing everyone’s final results. Near the end of April, each of our contest participants sent me their final results photos and numbers. As a group, our participants lost over 60 pounds. Every single woman was visibly transformed. When I placed their before and after pics side by side, the differences were extremely noticeable. As much as this contest was about an inward transformation, it was still incredible to see those changes reflected outwardly too. This is when it really hit me that we’d done it. That we’d accomplished what we set out to do and helped these women transform their lives.
- Meeting Renee and spending an awesome makeover weekend together! Announcing the winner was a bittersweet moment for everyone because each woman had worked so hard, but on the weekend when Renee came to Dallas, it was nonstop fun! Not for the first time throughout this contest, I was struck by the emotional power of this whole thing.
I want to go into this last one a little bit further because my feelings are much bigger and more complex than I can fit in a tiny paragraph.
Spending a weekend with Renee, with our contest advisers, and with our Behaviorists, I was struck with a thought. I looked around at everyone—Laurie pointing out dresses and outfits she thought would look great on each person, Marzia being the first one brave enough to try something on, Priya using her warm personality to make everyone feel comfortable and at ease, Anne-Marie sipping quietly on her tea and taking everything in, Holly getting us all to laugh as she zipped around with her selfie stick, Toni gliding here and there to direct each of us and keep the shoot rolling, and Renee smiling so widely the whole time, enjoying every moment, and giving out many hugs. While I watched all of us laughing, being goofy, enjoying ourselves so fully, I thought, This is Model Behaviors.
This is our heart. This is exactly who we are. Women together. And I don’t just mean together in the same space, though that’s certainly part of it. But we were together spiritually, too. These are women I never would’ve met if it weren’t for Model Behaviors—incredible women, inspiring women, strong women.
On the surface, we don’t seem to have a lot in common. I’m a bookish, introverted writer and musician who—under normal circumstances—really does not enjoy being in front of the camera. I’m the youngest one in the room with an international supermodel, a celebrity stylist, a drop-dead gorgeous personal trainer, an incredibly smart educator, a TV host, a woman who can craft something artful out of pretty much anything, and a stay-at-home mom (one of the toughest jobs out there!). It would be easy to feel intimidated sharing space with all those people, yet I didn’t feel awkward or out of place. I felt like I was at home. I felt like I was with friends I’d known for years. Women I could be myself in front of without reservation.
I’ve always known what was at the heart of Model Behaviors—this deep sense of community beyond all barriers, labels, or backgrounds—but I truly feel it now. After the Mommy Makeover Contest and after our latest revamp photo shoot, it’s not only the contest participants whose lives were changed. I realized while looking around the photo shoot that my life has changed for the better, too.
Model Behaviors has transformed me.
Today, I welcome you to look around our revamped website. You’ll of course notice different pictures on our homepage. But we’ve also got a new section called The Village, where we feature all the individuals who work closely with us but who don’t write for the blog. You can find them in our updated About section. There’s an updated mission statement, as well, and a more in-depth description of our Behaviorists, all of which include gorgeous hand-lettering. We now have a Coaching page where you can link up with some incredible life coaches, a Retreats page to find out more about past and future MB retreats, and a Collaborations page where you can see all the projects and organizations we’ve been part of. Our sidebar is a little different too!
Twice a year we refresh the website, and though there may be aesthetic changes, the heart of MB remains the same—a community of ordinary women doing extraordinary things.
So come on in. We’re waiting with loving, open arms.
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