Mandy Merino family photo.jpg

SEPTEMBER MOM OF THE MONTH - Mandy Merino

Instructor, Angela Bridgford: "Since the day Mandy joined us, she was a perfect fit for Our Village. She has a way about her-a spirit of acceptance, always an encouraging word to offer, and a dedication to her family and to being her best self. I feel so blessed to know and love this special mama! She is an inspiration to me and everyone she meets. Congratulations Mandy! We love you!"

This month we recognize MANDY MERINO for her accomplishment and dedication to fitness, motherhood and life! Our Brea, Fullerton, Placentia and Yorba Linda FIT4MOM Team would like to say, "THANK YOU, MANDY," for being part of our Stroller Strides family!"

1. Who are the members of your family?

My husband Lucas and I have been married for almost 8 years. We have two boys, Matteo (6) and Silas (almost 2).

2. What is or was your career?

I started my career working at Edelman, in the Chicago office. It’s a global PR firm, and I worked in the creative department as a project manager/producer/photographer. After moving to LA, I transitioned into a traffic/project management job at a boutique packaging localization company which is where I worked up until just before Matteo’s first birthday.

That’s when I knew it was time to pursue my dreams of becoming a photographer. I wanted a career path that would allow me to build a flexible schedule around my role as mom and also fulfill my creative side. When I started out, I planned to shoot everything and anything. I was struggling with postpartum depression and had completely lost “me” in the process of becoming a mom. Then, I stepped out of my comfort zone and went to a random Facebook meetup that I stumbled across, for boudoir photography. I came home completely hooked, threw myself into learning everything I could and decided to specialize my business in that genre.

By helping other women reconnect with a side of themselves that they may have lost along the way (or maybe never even knew existed), I found ME again.

Over the past 4 years, I’ve slowly been building my business while having and raising babies. Now, I’m ready to hit it full time with my first studio!

You can find my work at www.mandymerino.com

3. How long have you been a member of FIT4MOM of North Orange County and what has it done for you?

I’ve been with FIT4MOM North OC for 1.5 years, and it’s done EVERYTHING for me. Over the year and a half, I’ve lost 25-30 lbs and totally reshaped my body. Plus, I’ve made SO many wonderful new friends (which is key when you’re a transplant in a new city).

4. What is something that has surprised you about motherhood?

Total honesty?...I thought I’d be better at it, and that it would totally fulfill me. I used to think I really wanted to be a stay at home mom. Turns out, there’s a part of me that I just can’t turn off and wants to work. Accepting that, and living my truth has been hard.

5. Favorite app(s) or website(s)?

Instagram and Spotify

6. List three current obsessions.

  1. Perfect Bars. I should probably be getting an affiliate marketing fee - because I refer them to so many people - but I really do love them that much. It’s the perfect post-workout snack (when my kid doesn’t steal it all).

  2. The Goal Digger podcast by Jenna Kutcher - she fires me up and inspires me.

  3. My new studio.

7. What is your child's/children's favorite thing about you or favorite thing that you do?

Matteo and I have been watching American Ninja Warrior together lately, and we both love it. Silas, well...I love goofing off and dancing with him.

8. Any tips for other moms out there?

Embrace your own unique mothering style. You may do things (or feel things) differently than other mothers, but that doesn’t make it wrong. As long as you do what feels right in your heart, then that’s what YOUR kid needs.