When Social Media Leadership Turns South

Something has happened to me over the past 8 months. It’s not just a baby I’ve been baking in my belly…it’s been lots of anger.

Have you ever been so overwhelmed by life and responsibility that you become someone else and don’t even realize it? Well that is what I feel like today. I’ve been angry. Really angry. And it not like me to let it take over my actions, but it has.

A close friend of mine brought several of these things to my attention today, and I just cried and cried. Because she was right. And I didn’t want to face it. It would be one thing if it was just about me. I could ignore it and go about my day. But it’s not about me anymore, my life directly impacts thousands of people. I have a greater responsibility than most people when it comes to how I behave. I’ve been called a “beacon of hope”…”a example to all moms”…”an amazing leader for obesity prevention”…”a Godsend”…but not today. And lately, my spirit has been tainted with anger and frustration. It’s rubbed off on everything I do.

 

Watching from a distance you would have seen this in the past 8 months:

Chobani hijacks Mamavation hashtag. My response looking back was …probably not the best.

Anytime Fitness says “Money is Allergic to Fat People”…My response, although those words were pretty “asstastic”, I should not have ganged up on him.

Georgia Strong 4 Life Billboards. I’m very proud of the work I did here, but the anger I felt during the creation of this campaign has cost me tremendously.

 

Have I been a bully? Have I been intimidating to others instead of empowering? Hmmmmm….I’m sure that is debatable. No matter how you look at it, my “voice” is powerful no matter where it’s directed. I can be a force for empowerment OR for anger. It IS strong because I have a gift.

I do believe all things happen for a reason that bring about good, but it’s all in how you look at it. Perception is the difference between failure and success. It’s kinda like when I talk about picking yourself back up after you have fallen.

When my father died and my eating disorder took control of my life, I found my strength through it and created this social media empire. When I was bullied as a child because of my weight, it gave me a strong sense of empathy for others to be able to lead with passion and conscience. (I also don’t sit around and watch others get bullied.) My eating disorder gives me a very humble outlook on how perfection is not needed to attain things that are great.  And finally, sexual abuse…things that happened to me in my adolescence…things that created my eating disorder…stick with me today, BUT also help me to understand that you only need to be a victim once. You don’t need to victimize yourself over and over again. I really feel like there are so many women out there that have suffered in silence and do so with food. Just like I have. But it doesn’t have to be that way. One thing that is VERY true about me is I’m a flawed human being. I’m actually proud of it. It allows me to be less judgmental of others. I don’t judge others based on their “sins” but walk with them on their level because they ARE my equals. For instance, If I hear a rumor about you, I’m not necessarily going to think you are a monster while everyone else does. I’m gonna think you are human. And I actually like people MORE when I find out what their “sins” are.

I have to be honest with everyone. Gaining weight for pregnancy is very psychologically hard on me. After all my hard work, I have to go back into a body that makes me feel shamed. It truly is a sacrifice for me emotionally.  And I’m sure this is one of the root causes for all my anger. BUT even though this baby has brought feelings of anger to me, it’s also brought some major healing. My lack of strength has forced me to depend on others in a new way.  It has mended some relationship issues I had with my own husband. He felt very isolated in our marriage because I was married to my work and community.  I’m sure lots of bloggers have husbands that feel the same. Blogging can actually cause a rift in a relationship sometimes as you get more successful. Blogging and community start to take over your life and you begin to live in a world that exists only in the computer. As I’ve been pregnant, I’ve let MrBookieboo start to take some responsibilities in the Mamavation campaign and it has really improved our understanding of each other and mended fences that I’m sure were heading to destruction. He has a deep respect for the work I do now and enjoys doing it too. We have fallen back in love.

Now for my action plan. Cause you know I have one. I always do. I’ve come out to you and told you that my demeanor has been detrimental to the Mamavation community. But what am I going to do about it?

1. Lose the baby weight. You will get to watch me VERY SOON shed the pounds imperfectly. I think I’ll have about 45 lbs. or so to go. So I’m in the same boat as most of you. Anyone that puts me up on a pedestal shouldn’t cause at the end of the day, I’m just like you. (Baby is due late May)

2. Focus more on the positive. Does this mean I’m going to stop speaking out against things I think are wrong, no, but I’m going to change my demeanor while I”m doing it to empowerment. I can’t constantly be clouded by negativity. Also, I plan on giving more props to companies and communities that are doing things right. Obesity prevention is a murky battle, but there are several champions out there that deserve props.

3. Bring back a focus on Mamavation community members who have really shown leadership . We used to have a “Sista of the Week” spotlight. I’m going to continue that bi-monthly.

3. Turning the Mamavation private Facebook group into a more “safe place” where we can discuss our feelings AND plan things at same time.

4. Having some additional “beginner” challenges. Back to basics with water & steps. This is where I started and I know there are several people that need to start where I did. We will still be keeping the 2 Week Challenges with MrBookieboo, but also having some more beginner ones as well.

5. Focus on community development. I promise to comment on AT LEAST 5 Mamavation Monday posts per week. Who is with me in this endeavor? I think getting the focus back on each other as opposed to ourselves will greatly improve ALL our demeanors. That is how we started in the first place.

6. Creation of a Mamavation Leadership Team with some very set roles. Let me know if you are interested in participating. I need help with outreach, monitoring the hashtag, making people feel welcome and “part of the group”, etc. We may also need some committees.

7. More swag. Need I say more?

And finally, I’d like to apologize to my community. Some of you are already going to say I’m too hard on myself, but I have to be. I have a lot of responsibility here and I take it very seriously. Don’t worry I’m not mopping about the house calling myself names. I’ve gotten this out and I’m moving forward. But for me, I really HAVE to get things out first. To face them in order to move forward. I have to be honest first. And I have to be honest with you as well or I can’t sleep at night.

So join with me in reshaping Mamavation and making it a positive community again. Will you take my hand? Will you help me as I continue to fight for our families and our health? I’d love your help.

 

 

Mamavation
Leah Segedie is the Founder of Mamavation and Bookieboo, a blogger network. After losing over 100 lbs, she started a career mentoring women in health and since then has assisted in over 3,500 lbs lost via the Mamavation community. Leah and her work has been mentioned in Ladies Home Journal, Reader's Digest, Fitness, Women's Day, CNN, ABC, CBS, the O'Reilly Factor, AOL, Entrepreneur, and Yahoo to name a few. She works from home in her fuzzy slippers.
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Comments

  1. It takes a big person to be that introspective and always push themselves and others to be better. I am more excited than ever to be a part of this community. Thank you, Leah.

  2. Yes yes yes yes. Positivity, yes!

    I am so positive, I make myself sick – I’ll send some your way :)

  3. Leah- I love you. I love that you are strong enough to see or at least accept this is happening and make changes. I’m with you! it is easy to get into a rut and I promise to help with Mamavation as much as I can – because I believe in what it can do and how it can help people- I simply have to look at how it helped me.

  4. Powerful post! Leah, I know first hand how an eating disorder can change your life (for some of us… for the better).. I just had my 3rd child 2 months ago and I know exactly how you are feeling on gaining weight during pregnancy. There is no “but you are making life” comment that can suppress your feelings.
    You are an inspiration. We all have good, bad, and really ugly days and depending on what comes our way that day we’ve responded differently.
    I am here with you helping parents take over their family’s health –you on exercise and healthier living –me with school lunches through MOMables.com.
    Know that you are not alone. There are others fighting to show people healthy options.
    Oh, and the social media/blog/business isolating us from our spouses? I know the feeling. Keeping it together is perhaps the hardest job of all.
    Hugs and strength, Laura Fuentes

  5. Shelley (@momma_oz) says:

    Words can not express how powerful this post is. We’ve got this. You are NOT alone. I’ve got your back and hope you know, I love you because of your flaws- NOT in spite of them. Thank you for caring enough about us and trusting us enough to bare your soul.

  6. I have to say that I respect you more and more everyday. This shows how everyone is susceptible to problems and it’s ok! It’s even better to admit your failures and make things right. I wish more people would do this!

  7. Its not easy to have the responsibility of world on your shoulders & I’m so glad that Mark has been able to see and help you here. You are an amazing caring woman. Spending just a few minutes alone with you in Texas was all it took for me to know that.
    If we were all prefect then what would we be doing here?
    Mistakes made, lessons learned and moving on! I’m exited to join/stick with you in this new chapter.

  8. Such a BRAVE POST!!!! I would expect NOTHING LESS from a woman as REMARKABLE as YOU!!!! You KNOW I have your BACK front & sides TOO) Let’s do this , BabyGirl!!! *Grabs your VIRTUAL Hand*

    Much Love!!! ❤❤❤❤

  9. I just wanted to tell you how much I love you! I know it took a lot of bravery to write this post. I am feeling the same way with the whole pregnancy and gaining weight. Seeing 200 on the scale again really SUCKS, but I know I have a wonderful community of women who will help me get back on track again. I was hesitant about committing to goin to fitcation because it’s soon after the baby comes and I know I won’t be looking so great. But I know you guys will accept me however I look! Love you and love all you have done for us.

  10. Sara Haaf says:

    You are human, it’s great you are admitting there are faults though. We all have them and can only approve when we acknowledge and address them. I love the idea of a beginner type thing though. i had been almost at a level I could do the 2 week challenge and my friend died and it’s so frustrating being back at square one in less than 2 months after I spent nearly a year on it..

  11. Proud of you. Love you. I’ll be standing with you all the way.

  12. I was so happy to read this post. I love what you do for Moms, I love the community, but I haven’t always felt comfortable sharing my opinions. I should note that you have respectfully disagreed with me on a few occasions, but it was respectful.

    I am here because I believe in Moms, I believe in being healthy and supporting each other in a safe environment. I look forward to more positive ways to achieve these goals and the great changes that we can create as a community. We are all human and I love that you are willing to lead by example.

  13. Leah…thank you for this! Social Media is a powerful tool. I believe you use it for good, not evil. Anger is a valid emotion, but when we do feel it, or someone points it out to you, stepping back and recognizing it and using it for fuel for good as opposed to allowing it to eat us up is such an important step.

    I love your list of goals…and as a beginner appreciate #4. Steps and water are where I am right now. I would love to get to do the 2 week challenge. But I would love some tips on getting to that point too.

  14. Leah, I have only been a member of the Mamavation Sistahood for a short time, but you and the other sistas have made me feel so very welcome and you have all taught me and pushed me in ways that I didn’t realize I needed pushed. I’ve lost 18 pounds this year because of you and the Mamavation community.

    I think your Action Plan rocks and I’m more than happy to commit to commenting on at least 5 Mamavation posts every week. It’s been a personal goal of mine already to try to get to as many as I can, but it’s not always easy. But, I love the support that I get from everyone, so I want to share that with others.

    We’re right here with you lady!

  15. Marie Nichols says:

    Very powerful post Leah… You inspire me everyday and reading this you’ve inspired me even more. You are a strong woman. **HUGS***

    I’ll help anyway i can. Just let me know what i can do. Always willing to participate and help out.. :)

  16. Leah,

    One of the things that we women tend to do is to wrestle with our own demons in silence. We tell ourselves that others won’t understand, we’ll be ridiculed, we need to be big girls, yadda, yadda, yadda… but the thing is we do it alone. Having been introduced to you and the rest of the sistahood, I finally feel that I’m around people who understand and that I’m truly not alone in this battle of the bulge. When you mentioned the death of your father, being bullied and sexual abuse – even while being a strong leader – that hit awfully close to home and I cried for your pain and for mine.
    I’m with ya, sista, and I’ll stand by your side, telling the world to “bring it on!” I’ll go to battle with you against the naysayers and I’ll help spread healing encouragement where I’m able!
    I like the idea of the beginner challenges – it’s what I need right now!

  17. I have to sign under Andrea’s post.

    I love you to death and you have done so much for me and everyone else, but it has been quite different around here lately. And if you were just Leah Segedie nobody knows of – nobody would care, but you are not nobody, so ya know… people are watching…

    Love ya

  18. Good luck. I look forward to seeing your next state of community evolution as you give birth IRL. I am here if you want to talk.

  19. You’re a strong woman, and here’s another example – let’s learn from what’s going on and move forward in a better way. Love it! Let me know what I can do to support you. I promise to comment on at least 5 Mamavation Monday posts each week too! Also – I love going back to the baby steps.

  20. Thank you for this post and the apology…the inspiring part of it is your deep honesty. I have to admit myself I backed off from following, reading, and participating because I could feel the anger….and as I was going through my own healing for an eating disorder and recovery from childhood trauma during this time, I could not be anywhere near the emotions that were spewing….I didn’t feel you were bullying just angry and often saw in your writing using pregnancy and hormones as the excuse and THAT was not fair to women in general…(my feeling only) —

    Perhaps, as you focus on the positive, perhaps adding a little of dealing with the trauma and the stress because those triggers will continue on throughout someone’s life….we can’t make them go away but we can learn new things to help when those triggers and stressors pile up……things like mindfulness not just weight loss would be an awesome addition to your blog…that’s my humble opinion……..

    THANK YOU again for your honesty…..it is the best way to move forward

  21. I think it shows a tremendous sense of character to write such an honest post. I continue to follow you because you continue to be 100% real. Thank you.

  22. More power to you for being honest about your experiences, your faults, your mistakes. It’s part of the human condition. As my aunt always says, we’re all just bozos on the bus. Thanks, Leah!!

  23. I wish there was a way I could “like” some of these comments – like on FB. :)

    I appreciate the honesty and the apology…. I loved Mamavation and the Sistahood when I first started with them, they were a source of great support and great success for me. Somewhere along the way the message seemed to get lost and I noticed people weren’t getting the support that they needed.

    I like the new goals, and I look forward to seeing where it goes!

  24. I agree with everything the ladies said above…its hard to admit our faults and to share so publicly. I look up to you even moreso. Many hugs and much love :D

  25. Katie @momslrb says:

    Great post! The goals are great! Something to strive for. Let me know if I can help with the rebuilding. You can do it!

  26. Great post and everyone gets overwhelmed sometimes and anger is an easy way to get rid of the feeling of no control. I am glad to see you are going to add some beginner challenges even with my physical limitations that keep me from the 2 week ones an easier one might be doable.

  27. Wow, what a powerful and brave post. I commend you for opening up your heart to us all and being brave. None of us are perfect and we all have our days, and pregnancy makes things hormonally difficult when it comes to the emotions. okay, I sound like a therapist. haha.. but since becoming pregnant myself I have found it even harder to focus on the positive rather than let the negativity get the best of me. tonight I had one of those epiphany moments in my life, when stress was to the max and I took a step back and did something as simple as start singing children’s church songs, hymns and I realized how I used to sing my babies to sleep all the time with these songs and it had been literally forever, and was amazed at how doing this, COMPLETELY changed the atmosphere in my home, and my attitude. okay, I am rambling but just saying, I know what you are going through, and we are in this together. I know how you feel regarding the feelings about the pregnancy weight gain, because I really want those pounds gone off me too and now I will be delayed on these efforts for the next 7 months.. it’s hard but we love you and are with you. I believe in you!

  28. Great post Leah, i’m sure it took a lot to post this. You are such an admirable person. We all fall down sometimes, but you have built this great community that will help pick you back up! I’m so excited to be a part of mamavation as it goes through this transformation.

  29. Leah, I always marvel at how you’ve managed to rear your kids, run your home & do all the things you do in the space. I love & admire how you’ve brought your husband on board (more tips on how to do this would be great) Your list of new goals is terrific & as usual, your fearlessness in ruthlessly examining & sharing your own attitudes and behaviors with us only serves to boost my opinion of you even higher!

  30. Great job acknowledging your weak points and focusing on the things you need to bring things around. Being pregnant isn’t easy for anyone. I would love to see Mamavation up and running like it used to be…we are here if you need us.

  31. Shannon @Aries_mommy says:

    Leah,
    You are loved by so many. I wouldn’t want a perfect leader. You have an amazing vision for Mavation. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

    Hugs

  32. Way to go Leah! Refocus and onward and upward.

  33. This is such a great post, Leah. I know how much you live and breathe this community and it takes so much to step back and see where you’ve lapsed, even if it’s just a little. Flaws make you more relatable as a leader, and acknowledging them only makes it easier to love you!

  34. That was a brave post, but there is definitely power in forgiveness (even forgiving yourself) and positive thinking. Way to go!

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