The Wellness Spotlight series highlights military spouses and their real world health and wellness journeys in a Facebook live series. Below is an excerpt of Erica’s feature.

I am a very visual and tactile learner. So in order for me to change a habit or pattern, I have to see it to believe it and do it. For example, in order to drink enough water, I can’t have those cute motivational water bottles. Nope. I need a huge ugly gallon jug looming around me to all times of the day. It’s there. It’s visible. Constant reminder of my goal.
— Erica McMannes


Three years ago if you had asked me about me “wellness story,” I would have looked confused, embarrassed, and answered with a hesitated, “I….don’t…have one?” Because looking back three years, December 2013 to be exact, was probably the lowest I’ve ever felt. I didn’t realize it at the time but having grown, and become healthier in mind and body, I can see and feel the difference from who I was that December. My sickness so-to-speak with crippling self-judgement and negative self-talk prevented me from feeling like I belonged pretty much anywhere. I know, if you know me and know where I am in my life now, surrounded by amazing and strong female leaders – you may find that hard to believe.


Today, I can happily say I strive to be a better version of myself everyday, I am not complacent in who I am but I am happy. To be able to sit here happy in my own skin, confident in my purpose, and embracing the quirkiness and introversion I was born with says so much about how people truly can change. But this was not always the case. To be taking the chances I take and pushing past fear daily in business and relationships, wellness had to happen first. And not solely a physical “doctor gives you a clean bill of health” type wellness but a deeply personal and inner wellness, too.  


January 1st, 2014, I started working out daily and eating clean foods. Sounds easy enough, right? Applying those practices long term takes work and consistency and it was the first time in my life I did it and stuck with it. No cheats. No diets. No short cuts. Good old fashioned work and discipline. I joined a health and wellness community that taught me daily habits, healthy whole eating, and started chipping away at the judgement and fear I carried around.  I couldn’t walk into a room or a gathering without immediately feeling like I was the biggest, or the fattest, or lowest on the totem pole, or the only one weird one in the group. No one said these things to me, it was all me and I was my own worst enemy. Aligning my mindsets with loving my body for what it is – size 10 feet, wide hip bones, and accepting what I could change – my strength, my goals, my muscle shape, my speed –  allowed me to drop 30 lbs and sign up for my first half marathon within 9 mos. That really was the catalyst for starting to see those little steps of accomplishments and challenges build up time after time. Once you see you can really do hard things, it only gets better!!

WHAT ACTIONABLE ITEMS Do you want to share?

  1. Stop weighing yourself daily or even weekly. I probably hop on the scale 3-4 times a year for a quick check in. If you are working on changing your body or losing weight, you’ll know it’s happening without a scale telling you.
  2. Get rid of magazines and television focused on fashion or appearance as defined by marketers and mainstream culture. How was I supposed to love who I was when I didn’t see anyone else in the limelight who looked like me. I’ve worn the same makeup for 15 years. I have a horrible time finding pants that fit. Being reminded of that over and over again and feeling like I was lacking did me no good. I had to give myself a break and stop living up to what I thought made me acceptable. Just live in the glory of who I was.
  3. Clean up your Facebook feed. You are in control of what you see, read, and are influenced by on social media. Get rid of negativity. Go through your friend’s list and if you want to avoid the drama of “unfriending” someone, just unfollow them. Then go find companies and thought leaders who are filled with positivity and empowerment. I guarantee this will change how you feel, talk, and relate within a matter of days.

What RESOURCES do you recommend?

Brene Brown– Brene taught me about vulnerability or my lack thereof. As military spouses we build up these self protecting barriers very well, usually subconsciously, but it is often the result of survival. Brene Brown helped me tear these down, ask for help and share my story.

Susan Cain– Susan opened up the world of empowered introverts to me. There is a whole world of introverts out there crushing goals and leading movements, we just do it in ways that are different than extroverts. Neither is right or wrong, it’s just knowing who you are in that realm and what makes you tick.

Gary “The Hustler” Vaynerchuk– He completes my Triforce. His “no holds bar” go after your dreams, be in it for the long haul and do it with integrity is the heart line to who I want to be and share with the world.

(Purchases using the link above will help InDependent cover administrative costs for our programs at no extra cost to you!)

The book section I use to think was for “messed up people who needed help” has taught me some of the most valuable life lessons aside from my faith and family relationships. If you scoff at the self-help section – trust me, you need to stop by. I call these my own Triforce (total geeky Zelda reference for any fans out there.)
— Erica McMannes


Erica McMannes is CEO and Co-Founder of Madskills, an interactive platform that provides military spouses with remote work opportunities. She is married to an active duty soldier of 15 years and mother to two boys. Since starting her wellness journey over three years ago, she went from physical improvement to improvements in mindset/personal development and, most recently, taking all that with her into some big business goals.


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