MAC Spotlight Member: Vanessa Keenan

The MAC is excited to start a new feature called Spotlight Member. Our inaugural individual is Vanessa Keenan. She is an incredible person and I feel lucky to call her a friend. She is a shining example of how we can all make changes for the better. I hope you enjoy her story as much as I do.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story and wellness journey.  My hope is that my message will give meaning to someone who desires change, but is discouraged.  To someone who’s letting the voice inside win when it tells them that starting with one step isn’t going to make a difference.  I’ve experienced the power of change that started with small steps that consistently over time have physically and emotionally made a huge difference in my life.

Today marks my two year anniversary, the landmark day that a silent internal decision I didn’t share with anyone else at the time began. I didn’t know what I was doing, how I was going to do it or what was to come. . .I just knew I wanted to get well & that I sensed a light at the end of the possibility of change.  It was drawing me to a new place that would require me to leave things behind if I were to start heading it’s way, but I decided I wanted to go more than I wanted to stay.  There’s been 113 pounds lost, but so much more gained with each and every step that’s been taken on this journey.


I’d silently and slowly began the process of “letting myself go” almost 5 years ago when we moved to the Meade County area.  I’d heard the phrase my entire life and never given it much thought til it was me that had done the letting go.  I’d never been good at the “oxygen mask first” concept.  When a flight attendant would do the pre-flight safety instructions and give the “in the event of an emergency place the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others” instructions I would literally hear a voice in my head say “I could never do that”.  It’d always been a foreign concept to me to put taking care of myself in front of caring for others.  We moved to Meade in the midst of illness and a lot of challenges and it required a lot of caring for others.  It was “an emergency situation” and I failed to put my oxygen mask on first before I started trying to help everyone else “land safely”. 

Maybe some can relate, but my “self-care descent” involved a lot of stress, self-neglect, dollar menu dinners, sodas (2-3 a day), not taking time for myself and driving people around as life was silently driving me crazy.  I was physically inactive, but my mind and emotions were internally racing all the time.  I wore a smile but on the inside I wanted to go home and hide.  My joints hurt, my bloodwork showed deficiencies in the B’s & D’s, I had zero energy, my head ached most days and I was just going through the motions to get through each day.  My weight was at an all time high, my health an all time low and I lingered in that lonely place for quite a while.  If someone would mention exercising or going to the gym I would hear a voice inside say “I could never do that.  I’m not a gym person”.  If someone talked about going without sugar or giving up snacks, there it was again. . . the “I could never” voice whispering me away from considering change. 


But two years ago today, I decided to talk back to the “I could never” voice.  I threw my last “Super Size Soda Cup” in the trash and haven’t turned back since.  That was my first step towards wellness, the first of many increments that have been added layer by layer.  I began eating what “healthy” meant for me. . .veggies, fruits, lean & clean proteins. . .something I thought I couldn’t do, didn’t have time for and couldn’t afford, but proved the voices wrong.  I started using essential oils for stress, sleep and to help my metabolism which led to using them for basically everything in our home instead of turning to the pills, creams & other toxins I’d been turning to.  That led to a mindset shift and all of the sudden I had a curiosity and courage to start exercising.  A few group classes with Brittany Barr led me to actually scanning my card and walking into the doors of the MAC after having a membership that had gone unused for over a year.  Learning to use one machine, led to another.  Three minutes on the Lateral X machine for cardio led minute by minute to 30 minutes then 40.  Months later, my husband asked if he could join me and the MAC became a place we could share the journey. The MAC was the safe space where I was able to learn, ask questions, not be judged and instead be gently nudged toward the journey I was meant to have.  I’ve never waited for a machine.  I’ve never felt like someone was looking on thinking “what’s she doing here”. I never felt looked down upon or less than.  There’s always been someone there to offer a helping hand or a high five as I found my way.  I now love being that person watching out for someone in need of the same. 

Nothing happened over night, some weeks there was half of pound of me gone, some weeks one pound, occasionally the shock of two.  I started hearing “I could do that” or “I want to try that” instead of “I can’t” to things I’d never pictured myself doing. . .playing tennis, becoming a morning person, working out several times a week & feeling sad when I have to miss, mending relationships, starting a business, skiing, forgiving, golfing, getting a promotion. . . and the list will continue. Total weight loss to date is 113, blood work is pristine, I’ve only seen my doctor for annual well checks now for 2 years and she thought she had the wrong patient file when she walked into the exam room at my last visit because she didn’t recognize me. I had to start by looking within and when I did I found someone worth fighting for.  I’m no longer fearing nearing 50. I’ll be celebrating that mile marker in life later this month in the best health I’ve ever had.  It’s been an inside out journey of wellness that goes way beyond the scale. Listen for the voice of “I can’t” and prove it wrong.  Take care of yourself so that you can better care for others.  Leverage resources, ask questions, reach out and. . .head to the MAC!


Vanessa Keenan