Hanley's Story


The positive impact MFF has had on my life is immeasurable. I have never encountered such a wonderful, warm-hearted, open-minded group of individuals.

- Hanley

I was first introduced to MFF and Snatched by my dear friend, Melanie Lisby. She had the courage and strength to ask me to be a cheerleader for her throughout her process, so I got to glimpse her hard work, fierce positivity, and powerful emotional/physical journey. Bearing witness to her Snatched experience planted the seed of desire for my own.

But I couldn’t afford it, and I wasn’t sure it would work for me.

I ate fairly well and jogged for exercise, but despite that lifestyle (and now I know, BECAUSE of that lifestyle), I have always been a little bit on the cuddly side, especially by the “industry standards” imposed upon performing artists. But when I spoke to various people about my desire to be more fit, they’d either say, somewhat angrily, “Why would YOU want to lose weight? You’re fine,” or, more gently, “Yeah, it’s impossible to lose those last 10 pounds.” No one seemed supportive of the idea — they either resented it or thought it was futile — and it was hard to work up the gumption and the funds to take the plunge on my own.

Then something strange happened. I booked a dream role of mine.

The gig enabled me to save up for Snatched! Yay! … But I walked away from the show truly doubting my abilities and my dreams for the first time since graduating from college. Everything about the experience from the cast to the director to the design were of the highest caliber and kindness I have ever had the privilege to work with… and I was unworthy. SO unworthy. At least that’s how I felt. It all stopped being fun. And if it’s not fun, why do it?

Suddenly, I was completely lost. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, or what the last seven years had been for, or where I wanted to live, or how I was going to make money, or what truly mattered to me beyond my loved ones… I had no traction.

I needed a new goal. I needed something I could focus on, work hard at, depend upon… something to calm my doubting, panicking heart and give it a new, safe-but-challenging haven.

So with the money I saved and my need to change my outlook, I signed up for Snatched.

I didn’t even tell anyone about it for a while. It was something entirely for ME. My boyfriend would be out of town for the exact time period of Snatched, so I could be completely selfish in my time management. I was determined to take control and find my way back to Happy Hanley. And along the way, I was going to become (or start to become) so freaking hot that I’d melt my boyfriend’s brain. Those were (and, incidentally, are) my goals: Find Happy Hanley. Melt Boyfriend’s Brain.

But I think I see a lot of this in hindsight. I didn’t know how much Snatched could help my emotional turmoil until that turmoil began to disappear. Just like I didn’t realize how unhealthy I had been eating until I started cooking and logging the nutritional content of my meals. Or how sluggish I had been until each day I found myself with more energy. Or how strong I could be until someone in the Lair said, “Yes, you can absolutely lift that heavy freaking weight; I know you can.” Or how inspired I could be by my fearless, wonderful classmates shouting encouragement to each other whilst in costumes covered in sweat and determination. Or how much “1% better” and “best life” and “asshole eating your asshole” could become part of my daily vocabulary. Or how much I could be grounded by the understanding, knowledge and support of Mark Fisher and his daily emails, to say nothing of the invaluable Facebook group.

Which brings me to the PEOPLE of MFF… that is where the magic truly lives.

The positive impact you all have had on my life is immeasurable. All of you. Your kind greetings every day, your thoughtful card, your selflessness, your sense of fun, your complete lack of bullshit (except the good kind), your unbelievable talent for pushing us harder than we ever thought possible all while maintaining healthy techniques and shit-eating grins… it’s awe-inspiring. Through your guidance, your encouragement, your steely determination to never fail us, I achieved a kind of strength, weight loss, groundedness, and joy I NEVER thought possible.

You all shined the light on my own potential.

I have never encountered such a wonderful, warm-hearted, open-minded group of individuals. Never. I admire you all very deeply. You all are my role models. My inspiration coaches. My beloved sherpas.

THANK YOU. With all my heart.

I found Happy Hanley. I am sure I’ll lose her again; that’s a continual journey for my life. Finding, losing, reshaping, reexamining. But I feel equipped now. I have tools. I know how to cook, how to exercise, how to sleep, how to drink a ton of water, how to set goals for myself, how to push myself, how to forgive myself, how to stay open and learn, how to not let perfection be the enemy of the good, how to use community to support my process, how to make 1% better my priority… how to continually strive to be a Mark Fisher Fitness Ninja.

And I am pretty sure I melted my boyfriend’s brain. *saucy grin*

Wanna get after your fitness dreams like Hanley?