Fitness Cruise 2017 Life Lessons

A month ago I was on a cruise ship sailing around the Caribbean. I wrote a blog about it on the plane ride home, but something happened and that particular blog has disappeared. I was disappointed when that happened because I put a lot of work into that thing…but then what happened was now, I have had a month to reflect on that week and have an even deeper appreciation for the experience. The lessons that I learned are ones that I feel a need to share.

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First A little background. We signed up for this cruise over a year before it was scheduled to set sail. The Tonya that signed up for the cruise had just come off of running 681 miles in 2015 (or what I liked to call 20FITteen). I was feeling pretty good about my self and even my pants size (mostly). I was pumped for this cruise and I was hoping that it would keep me motivated through the year of 2017. Well… life kind of happened. I ate too much, I didn’t push myself hard enough in the gym, I didn’t run enough. . . I bought bigger pants. I have no reasons, no excuse, no justification. But let’s just say that by the time the cruise came around I felt like I was not worthy of going on a cruise that was about fitness or healthy living. AT ALL. Don’t get me wrong, I was way excited to be on a cruise… just didn’t feel like I would fit in. I wasn’t happy with what I had done. I was ashamed and spend A LOT of time beating myself up and not putting anything into action. But then something magical happened:

I embarked on a journey with these two lovely ladies:

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We left from Miami and sailed to Ocho Rios, Jamaica and then on to Grand Cayman Island (my favorite!) and then a final stop was in Cozumel, Mexico.

The reason I even found out about this cruise was because I have been a long time fan of the show the biggest loser. NEVER, until Season 11 did I really care or feel any sort of connection with anyone from that show. However there was this one particular contestant in Season 11 that I admired. Her story, her attitude and her outlook on life was simply inspirational. Before she got onto the biggest loser she, herself, lost 100 pounds. Her smile light up the room and I thought, I could be friends with this girl. And Holy crap, if she can push herself at the gym… why can’t I! Her, and her super cool mom were my favorite. Well, I started following Courtney on Facebook and her posts keep me positive on a regular basis. When I found out she was going to be on this cruise I started to round up someone to go with. Luckily I have cool people in my life who want to spend a week on a boat with me :). So, had it not been for Courtney I wouldn’t have found out about this trip to begin with. Anyways… this is getting long already. I would probably write a short novel about all the things that I learned but from here on how I am going to go Listy. So in short.. these are some of my fitness cruise takeaways:

  1. From the moment I stepped into this group of people I felt worthy and I felt like I belonged. NO ONE cared that I had gained some weight and that was AWESOME. They were there to support me and encourage me. I will never forget!

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  1. Be yourself. This goes back to Courtney. You know, you can be ANYTHING you want to be on social media. Courtney is exactly the same as she is online, in person. She is Genuine. It reminded ME to be genuine as well. Love ya Courtney!DSCN1957
  2. you just never know whose life you are going to influence. I am sure I have said this before, but it’s worth saying again! This women right here is just as inspirational as her daughter. I won’t ever forget your encouragement and your attitude Marci! And of course Kevin too. You guys are so much fun and I wish we lived closer!

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3. Fitness and healthy living takes a team. A tribe. A support system! I am  GRATEFUL for mine little circle, but sometimes I don’t let them in on the struggle or know how they can be supportive, but I know they are ALWAYS there. These two are a great example of how you can keep each other going. The winners of season 11. Well the winner and the runner up…but they are ALL winners in my book. Sisters. Such a bond and make me appreciate even more so the bond that I have with my sisters. I am so glad I got to know these girls. They truly are an inspiration. Even years after the show, staying the course and being so dedicated to being the person that they know they are. PS. I now want to go on another trip to NYC and take a Soul Cycle class with Olivia. Love you ladies!

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4. I wish i had a picture to go with this one… but i don’t. I met this girl named “Murn” who taught me a few things.

  • follow your dreams.
  • it’s NEVER to late to become what you might have been in life.
  • you Do you. Don’t care about what other people are doing. You do… YOU
  • Every day is CHOOSE day. It doesn’t matter what day it is. it’s ALWAYS choose day. you get to choose your attitude and create the outcome of your day.
  • Yoga: you can’t do it wrong and you can’t do it right.
  • If you aren’t checking yourself out, how do you expect anyone else too
  • it’s important to breathe
  • yoga isn’t as boring as i thought it would be

5. Do something you might be scared to do. I wanted to Swim out to this infateable playground in Cozumel, but it was a hard swim and then there was this REALLY tall slide that I wasn’t sure I Could get to the top and if I did i would be terrified up there. Well I did it and it was totally worth it.

 

6. PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN. Wait, did I yell that one? Full disclosure I am still working on this one. But here is what I learned from an entire week of not having my cell phone. I use it TOO MUCH. It wastes a lot of my time. I am missing out on a ton of my life by staring at my dumb phone. I am missing opportunities to connect with people. I use it to prevent myself to have to deal with the real world. It’s killing my relationships. And why?!?! Seriously. There was question whether I would be able to go a week without Facebook but it was SO FREEING! I am not kidding you! I still haven’t figured out how to totally incorporate this into my regular life, but I haven’t stopped thinking about it. I have tried to be more conscience about actually being in the moment when I am with people. It’s such a habit… baby steps.

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7. speaking of that. Be in the Moment was another. Just enjoy what you are doing now. Don’t worry about what’s next or what you should be doing or what ever. Be in the moment.

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8. Don’t judge people. Someone who looks unhealthy quite possibly works really hard and is really  very much healthy. We all don’t have the same standard. People come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. And all these people INSPIRE me! A community, A family… that I will not soon forget! Don’t forget to encourage those around you!

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9. Don’t let other people define you. Don’t let your past define you.

10. You are stronger than you think you are. Do something that you don’t think is possible. and Be freakin’ Proud of yourself!

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Sometimes is’s fun to get a little fancy

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Also I would like to report that since I got back that I have been on track and my pants are looser. Truth be told, I have increased my workouts (kinda) and sorta started making better choices… but I am inspired and I haven’t totally given up on the whole healthy eating thing and that progress. I can’t tell you the last time I had onion rings OR a cupcake… soooooo. eventually the pants will fit again. But for now I am proud. I am worthy. I am ME and I am happy. I will keep running and making good choices, and someday I will be in smaller pants.

Thanks for letting me share this incredible journey on the Carnival Vista with you all.

and now… it’s time for my run!

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Life can be rough

Current location: sunny, very windy Cancun, Mexico. Vacation. Full disclosure: this girl lives for vacation. I dream about, plan, and work hard for vacations. 

Here is what happened today on my fabulous vacation. Wind. Making the Caribbean Sea VERY choppy. As the boyfriend and I played in the very rough waves a couple go thoughts crossed my mind. So I thought I would write about them. 

Life can be very rough (just like the sea)… How we handle the situation largely determines the outcome.
 Some days are rougher than others. Yesterday the waves were gentle and super fun. Not to say today wasn’t fun…. Just different. You can’t really judge one day by the last day. Don’t let the struggles of one day carry into the next. Wonder how much different life would be if we could just Let things Go and move on. Just a thought. 

The same circumstances are navigated differently by different people. The boyfriend is an entire foot taller than I am. He struggled less for that reason. He also weighs a little more than I do. You can not judge your experience based on someone else’s. This life is yours to live. Experience. Enjoy the ride. 

Don’t give up. Today it seriously felt like Tonya VS. the sea. And I felt like I was losing. Getting beat up. One wave felt like it slapped me straight in the face. However I was determined to not give up. The reward was totally worth it. As in life. Things that are worth it, don’t usually come easy. 

Surround yourself with people who have your back. Dave (that’s the boyfriend) saw me struggling a time or two. So he reached out and grabbed my hand. He even said “I’m going to just hang onto you, because if I don’t, you seem to float away.” I’ve found an important key in life is surrounding yourself with people who let you be yourself. But also call you out when you are not so much being yourself. Also keep you from danger (don’t let you drown) and don’t let you backslide. I am blessed to have a LOT of these people in my life. 

Sometimes we just need to take a break. Relax! It’s quite amazing how a break from your normal life can reset you. Makes you take some deep breaths. Stop, realize what is really important in life. Think on how blessed you are. Getting some space from the daily stresses of life= Good. 

Life is full of things to be afraid of. The sea is a very dangerous place. Those waves were very powerful. Like nothing I’ve ever experienced. However, we can’t stop that from letting us live. Being in a foreign country were we don’t know the culture, the language, the customs… Could have stopped us from exploring, but it didn’t. Be safe. Have fun. But live life.

I love the sun, sun makes me extremely happy. Winter in Minnesota sucks for a lot of reasons, one of those reasons is lack of sun. However… Too much sun isn’t good either. Just ask parts of my body that got slightly red due to overexposer. Shade became our friend. Life is about finding balance. We can’t just always sit on the beach. Life is more than vacation, I guess. 

 Life can be rough… But it’s also a wonderful, magical, fantastic adventure. Embrace the ride.  

That’s all for now!

If you can’t say something nice…. 

Warning rant ahead. But bear with me…. It gets good. But first a little background. Friday I was hanging out with the boyfriend and he had to run an errand for an hour or so. My first thought was “do I have enough time for a run?!?” Pretty sure there was a sparkle of joy in my eye as I said it. My second thought was “yup… I’m a runner”  He said “go for it… But not too far cuz we are going to go for a walk when I get back” seemed like a deal to me. So first I had to define “short”… So I decided that anything less than 5 miles was short. Well…  

 4.75 is less than 5! Hehe. Anyways, this is what happened on my run. I was out… Minding my own business… Enjoying a lovely Minnesota summer night.I’m running across the bridge when some idiot yells out his window something about me being slow. For the next 4 miles I had all sorts of thought percolating in my brain. Before I get into my rant I just want to say I know I’m not the fastest runner… And I am 100% OKAY with it. Sometimes I just run to clear my mind. Sometimes I run for fun or to release stress. Sometimes I run Because I Really…. REALLY like food… (You get the idea)… 

Here is what at I took from this little “insult” 

First off. You don’t know me. Which means you don’t know how far I’ve come. You don’t know the battles that I fight on a daily or hourly basis. You don’t know what I struggle with.   

  

In other words. Shut your face. Why do you have to try and put others down? Keep that crap to yourself. But also…. Don’t let other  people’s negativity hold you back from doing your thing!!! Who cares what people think! You go out there and be amazing…. And pay no attention to their negativity. I also realized I had a choice to let his observation define and ruin me… Or help push me forward… I didn’t let him continue the outcome. I win!  

  
Don’t give into your own negativity. I am my own worst critic most of the time… And can get down on myself real quick. Don’t do that. It’s not helpful. And most of all Don’t quit. What Happens then?!?  We go back to where we started… Or worse? And how does that feel?!? Keep pressing on. It’s worth it. 

  
I get a lot of smiles, nods and waves from people when I’m out running. You have no idea how much that pushes me along. Why can’t we be that? People who encourage and build each other up?!?! 

Bottom line: you have no freaking idea how hard I worked to get to… And stay where I am. Still not exactly where I wanna be… But heck of a lot further than I once was. 

Also. This is just as true in running as it is in life. Can you imagine how different the world would be if we set aside our differences  and just encouraged each other to follow our dreams. Hmmm… Something to think about…. 

Thoughts from my therapy run 

So… 4 days ago I turned 35. Thirty. five. That means I am 5 years into my thirties. Like I’m edging closer to 40 every day. Before I Get to why this is a big deal… I have to show you how I celebrated my birthday  

 A run, a cupcake and some time with the boyfriend. All around a really great day. Anyways.. Moving on… 

Truth of the matter is I think it’s kinda bugging me a little. Making my brain a little foggy and making wearing my “crabby pants” way to easy these days. Sometimes I just stare off into space. Some days the whole “Choosing Joy” thing  just isn’t that easy. However tonight on my run I think I worked some things out. Weird as it sounds I think I’m having a “midlife crisis” if you will. Here’s the deal. Growing up you have this picture of what your life will be when you “grow up”… Right?!? My picture included a house, a husband, twins a dog and a job as a teacher. I even “knew” who this husband was supposed to be for years and years. Of course I was way to young to “know” this.. Not to mention that he was totally wrong for me…but that’s beside the point. Back to the picture… It of course had a deadline. I was thinking 30 would be when this would all fall in place. Ummm.. About that… 

 

Lake George. tonights therapy


 I am 35. I have….an apartment, no husband, no kids, a fat….lazy diabetic cat… And a job as a bill collector. Sometimes it seems like my siblings got everything that I wanted.. You see I am the oldest of 5 kids. One of my sisters has the twins I always wanted (plus another adorable little boy) . One of them is running a daycare (that was actually what I went to college for), my other sister is married and has a dog! and my brother has 2 adorable children. People that I graduated with have teenagers!!!  Those are the facts. My life isn’t what I thought it would be. I am not the person I thought I would “grow up” to be…and everyone “seems” to have what I wanted. Or thought I wanted….. 

Here is the conclusion I came to when I was running tonight. I am freakin blessed. I have a great life and I need to out on my big girl panties and realize  it. Here is the deal. I don’t have a house (I did at one point, that’s another story) …but I love my apartment! I don’t have a husband….but I do have a pretty terrific boyfriend. I do not have any kids… But I do have 4 awesome nephews and one amazing niece. I have a little bestie and a littlest bestie whom I lobe very much. I have the two girls I baby sat for almost their entire lives. I have cousins, and cousins kids and church kids and….. You get the point. God has placed a ton of kids in my life to have influence on. And as far the at the cat thing goes: IMG_3712 

  I kinda like him. I have gotten to travel and see so many things that I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to do!!  And the job thing… Some days a it really sucks. Some days it really stresses me out. Some days it makes me want to start drinking (I don’t drink, never have)… On the other hand some days it’s exciting and fun… And I honestly feel like I am changing people’s lives for the better. And then I realize I can afford things like vacations ( I really like vacation!!) and insulin for my diabetic cat…and shoes, running shoes!! And… Well, you get the point…. because of my job… It makes it not so bad. 

Bottom line from tonight’s 5 mile therapy run was this. No, I am not living the life imagined I would be when I was little. But I have a pretty freaking amazing life. I just needed a little wake up call to realize it. I have people around me who love me (even when I am unlovable) and that is what really matters. Thinking that what God had figured out for My life was a little (okay… Maybe A lOT) better than what I thought. And I may be 35… But I refuse to grow up. Cuz that in an option. I am, and will always be, just a big kid. And I kinda like the person I am becoming. As far as the rest of my life goes…. We shall see. Life is an adventure and I’m excited to see what’s in store. 

Earth Day

So. My first 5k ever was 5 years ago. My sister Jen made me sign up. I thought she was crazy. Me? Run?!?  a 5k?!?! hahaha. Well. I did it. Was the farthest I had ever run. And vowed to never do it again. Well I did. The next month. Apparently I caught the bug!! Yesterday was the anniversary of my first 5k. Something super cool happened at yesterday’s run. But before I tell you about that I need to tell you about how apparently competitive I am. I didn’t do as well as I thought I should. I finished like 2 minutes slower than I wanted too. I had to stop several times because I was struggling with the whole being able to breathe thing. I’m not going to make excuses about why I didn’t do “well” so I’m not going to. But immediately I started sorta started saying ” I coulda done better.” 

And then I thought back over the last 3.1 miles. The image of this young girl (she was probably 10 or 12ish) flashed into my mind. She and I were running at a very similar pace. She was all by herself and you could tell she was obviously pushing herself. I don’t know her story… All I know is I was watching her and she kept me going (unbeknownst to her). When she hit a wall and started walking I ran passed her and tapped her shoulder. Smiled. And told her she was doing awesome and to keep going. I could see the spring return to her step and she smiled and started running again. Funny thing in… When I was having a “my lungs hate this wind and this running thing” moment… She caught up to me and did the same thing. Told me we got this and to keep pushing forward. This continued through the race. Sadly I don’t know how she finished because I ended up finding some motivation and finishing strong. I really wanted to find her though. Was so cool to have that connection. Run I g is so much more than running. It’s freeing. It’s empowering. It builds self confidence. It reduces stress.  The list goes on and on. 

The other inspirational story was the 89 year old lady who walked the 5k. Yes. You read that right. 89!! I took this screen shot of the local paper’s website.  

 I think it took her an hour and 14 minutes. She is freaking 89! Running passed her was the coolest thing! Too see her living out her dreams and still rocking a 5k… gave me hope. I want to be that cool at 89! I don’t think there was a person there who wasn’t inspired!

  Back to me for just a second. I did a little side by side comparison of my first Earth day to yesterday.  

 The difference in these two photos is more than just physical. It goes a little deeper. The girl on the left had very little self confidence. She didn’t believe in herself. She would have NEVER envisioned her weekends/ vacations revolving around 5k’s and 10ks. All I have to say is regardless of yesterday’s Finish time… I am freaking proud of the girl on the right because you know what.  I fought to become her! Actually I take that back. I continue to fight to be the girl on the right. Every. Single. Day. Is it hard? Yup! It’s it worth i?!? You better believe it! Am I exactly where I wanna be? Nope. But I’m continuing the fight. I won’t quit. I wanna be like Irene. Kicking butt at 89! For now… I’m just gonna keep doing my best and keep fighting the good fight. 

Who inspires you? 

And what did you to today to make yourself proud?!?

 Keep fighting to be the you that YOU want to be. 

I did what?!?! 

So… I have been meaning to write this little blog for a few months now. However.. A few things have stood in my way. Mostly myself. I wanted to take a moment to brag on myself a little.. But haven’t been feeling worthy of the bragging. However… Just recently I have been told that I am too hard on myself… So I’m taking a moment to reflect.. And yes maybe brag a little. Just know what your getting into. But first I’ll start with the reason I haven’t been feeling worthy. I have been feeling really squishy (like a busted can of biscuits maybe) since the holidays. I blame cupcakes, my onion ring addiction and well.. All around not good choices sometimes. I feel like I preach “make good choices” and while I really do pretty well overall… I could be doing better. But you know what… I am a human. Not perfect. At all…and guess what. That’s okay. (That part was for me… And I’m going to type it again cuz I don’t believe it sometimes) IT IS OKAY TO NOT BE PERFECT. it’s okay to have some frosting… And maybe a little bit more… Sometimes. It’s okay to skip a workout or two. Your body, soul, spirit needs a break. Rest is okay. Rest…. Something I honestly need to work on. I have a hard time sitting still sometimes. It’s true. But I can’t be so hard on myself. My pants still fit and I’m happy= I win!! 

So…. Here is where I brag a little. Last year I set out to run 672 miles. Yes, the girl who refused to run the mile in high school…. Set out to run 672 miles in 2015. Just in case you are wondering that was about 56 miles per month. I am not going to lie… I was nervous that I bit of more than I could chew. I started off strong in January (I ran 100 miles in that month alone)… Truth be told i think I broke myself that month. And then I had to step it up… Was quite a roller coaster of a year. I can’t lie. Not all of the runs were enjoyable. Sometimes I ran because I “had to get my miles in” here is how my year looked she. It came to miles: 

  Now.. I bet your saying to yourself. Umm. Tonya, that’s more than 672 miles. Yup! I pushed it a little. 681 made more sense because 81 is kind of my number. 81 is my “ultimate weight lose goal” and.. Well I was born in 1981. So.. I pushed a little harder and made it happen. Therefore, I have to be proud of me. I made a goal and I crushed it!! I ran further than I’d ever ran before… I ran faster than I had ever done before. I pushed myself further than I thought possible. So.. Bottom line. I’m freaking pumped that I actually did it. 

Okay… Moving on. Here is why I continue this healthy living journey. It’s because of random messages I occasionally get like this: (I hope she doesn’t mind… I tried to take out any personally identifying info) but I’m really proud of her and it inspires me to continue doing what I do. Here’s the message:  
      

The word pregnant is missing. I can’t tell you how much this means to me. This is from someone that I admire dearly. And I can’t explain how proud I am of her courage and strength!  Bottom line… I have to keep on keeping on! And when I beat myself up.. That’s not helpful to me or people who are looking to me to be an example. It’s really not helpful. So.. Instead.. Let’s celebrate our successes. Live a little and be kind. Be kind … Even to ourselves. K?!?! 
  

What’s standing in your way?!?! 

What/ who is standing in the way of your dreams? You have goals… Dreams… Plans right?! What is standing in your way. 

Two things happened today that started me thinking. First a conversation with a guy at work about who your biggest competition is. For me it’s always been me. My biggest competition and the biggest thing standing in the way is me. Not having faith in myself. My Abilities. Just not believing it me. Strange wonderful things happen when you get get out of your own way. 
The second thing was I just tried to go workout and there was people in the workout room. Using the machine I wanted. Hmmm. Who’s standing in my way now? Trick question? Why am I letting them stop me from doing the things that get me closer to my goals? Is it just an easy way out of doing what I know I should be? Using it as a sign to take the night off? Silly right? There are people in your life that will standing your way. Whether they know it or not, whether intentional or not.  This isn’t just about working out. It’s about life. Pursuing your dreams. Achieving your goals. Go out there and get it. Don’t let anyone (even YOU) stand in your way. Time to go workout…. Maybe 😉