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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2017 Thankful List

SO. Once again I was reminded to write my “what is Tonya thankful for this year”  list. Reminder. This is TOTALLY RANDOM and IN NO PARTICULAR order…. This is purely a reminder of just how many things I am thankful for. The challenge is to come up with 100 things. SOOOO here it goes.

  1. My health (had a bunch of reminders this year to be thankful for my health)
  2. Sunsets
  3. sunrises. (however I am RARELY up early enough to see them, unless I am at work and then I don’t see them either)
  4. THE MOON.
  5. Bridges
  6. Words
  7. the couch of Awesome
  8. my TV remote
  9. my work friends
  10. my Mother.
  11. my crazy, energetic, busy Nephews (the tornado trio) and my entertaining Niece and nephew. and my newest nephew too! (this should really count as 6)
  12. people who know how to do things that I don’t
  13. running shoes
  14. people who save lives. IE. doctors, firefighters, EMT’s, nurses etc.
  15. babies
  16. photos
  17. vaccumm cleaners
  18. indoor plumbing
  19. music. today specifically Christmas music.
  20. pillows
  21. movies
  22. my cell phones
  23. pizza
  24. my apartment
  25. my foam roller
  26. my coworkers
  27. people who inspire me
  28. relationships
  29. rain
  30. people who annoy me
  31. vacations
  32. dreams
  33. ice cream
  34. my fitbit
  35. my high maintenance cat
  36. craft supplies. I don’t use them. but I am thankful for them
  37. blankets
  38. lakes
  39. rainbows
  40. oceans
  41. the color orange
  42. the internet
  43. my job
  44. facebook
  45. adoption
  46. love
  47. journals
  48. my siblings (all of them)
  49. my Aunts, Uncles and cousins (that’s more than 100 reasons to be thankful for right there.
  50. my high school years
  51. my college education
  52. my eyelashes
  53. humor
  54. positivity
  55. Christmas lights
  56. my car
  57. Jesus
  58. rollerblades
  59. running pants
  60. Christmas lights
  61. Cruise ships
  62. the ocean
  63. changing leaves
  64. mountains
  65. family traditions
  66. dancing
  67. joy
  68. bubbles
  69. Pumpkin spice…ummmm… everything
  70. Puns
  71. my friends
  72. inside jokes
  73. chocolate
  74. my journey
  75. my wonderful boyfriend
  76. Gilmore Girls
  77. smiles
  78. gum
  79. Cupcakes. Duh
  80. generosity
  81. my church family
  82. sunglasses
  83. headphones
  84. compassion
  85. giraffes
  86. people who are good at technology stuff
  87. hot hair balloons
  88. storage containers
  89. people who use their story to inspire others
  90. trains
  91. stars
  92. adventures
  93. running
  94. pillows
  95. HGTV
  96. fireplaces
  97. water
  98. Duluth MN
  99. my senses
  100. my memory

This list really could go ON and On and ON. But I am really thankful for this list itself. It makes me stop and think about what I am thankful for atleast once a year. I challenge you to do it to.

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!

S.T.A.R spells Star

Here’s the deal. I like to look at the night sky. I have a slight obsession with the moon and the stars. The girl who struggles with sitting still, can sit and look at the stars for a long time. Why?!? The sky is full of awe and wonder. In a way it’s magical and mysterious. And part of my favorite part of the Christmas story has always been the star part. You know… Where the wise men followed the star…. Everyone probably thought they were nuts…but they didn’t care.  Similarly my favorite church service of all time is when my pastor would do his “star message”.  He uses the Christmas story to talk about how we are stars…. Or should be stars for God. Leading people to see how good God is. Causing people to look up and wonder why we are the way we are. Makes me think every time I hear that message, or think about it. 

The main thing about stars to me is that they light up the darkness. Similar to Christmas lights this time of year. 

This year something else happened that cause me to stop and think.. There is a beautiful down by the river that lights up this beautiful tree. I drive passed it frequently (even thought I have to go out of my way to do it) to take in its beauty. Here is the thing… It isn’t lit up every night. And that bummed me out. One day I was having a not great day and the thought of seeing the tree put a smile on my face.  And the fact that its wasn’t on got me thinking a couple things. 

A. They have no idea how much joy the light of that tree brings to me.

B. What if I am someone’s Christmas tree.?!?

Yikes. That second thought scared me a little. I haven’t been the brightest star some days. And really struggle to shine to certain people. There is this song by Toby Mac called light shine bright and it kind of speaks to this. As a Christian I am called to be the light in a dark world. Let me tell you….sometimes it’s really REALLY hard. But what if they day I decide not to shine is the day someone is looking for a glimmer of hope, a smile or something that can turn their day around?!? What if I shine for them even when everything in me is throwing a pity party? What does it hurt me? Maybe, just maybe they will be that star for me when I need it? Maybe helping them will turn my day around… Maybe not… But what do I have to lose at that point? 

The world has NO problem glorifying “super stars”. What if we started being the super star of our own stories and in the lives of people around us? Think about it. What would the would look like if we all acted like the super stars we are? Who’s world can we bring light into?  And don’t let what others might think of you… Stop you. Be like the wise men. Be Wise. And no I didn’t say be a wise guy that’s a different thing 😜

Maybe someone you know had a rough holiday season… How can you make them smile? I don’t know what it is or who’s live you can touch. But I know for me this whole season got me thinking. It’s time to shine. 

There is the other thing to remember… It doesn’t have to be a  huge thing. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again… It really is the little things in  life that make the biggest difference. Go out there and do something. Spread JOY. Be a shining light. And shine your light bright. Be the star that you are (hey, that one rhymed). And let me know how you are letting your light shine. I’m always looking for ideas. 

Be blessed. And be a blessing. Okay… That’s all… Til next time….

100 random things I’m thankful for

It’s that time of year again. Time to be thankful. Thinking it should be more than just one time a year. But I’m going to take a moment and be thankful. Here is this years non-inclusive random list of 100 things I’m thankful for. Of course is no particular order

  1. Sunshine 
  2. The hard days (they make me appreciate the good days even more 
  3. Laughing 
  4. My family (I would list them all but that would take up all of my hundred things) 
  5. The old guy who lives in my apartment building. He makes me have a different perspective on life. 
  6. Snowmen
  7. My cell phone (even though sometimes I need to remember to just put it down and be in the moment) 
  8. Trees
  9. Rain. Because it makes things grow
  10. My cozy spot
  11. Music
  12. Scentsy (makes the apartment smell good) 
  13. Role models
  14. Family
  15. Movies
  16. Date nights
  17. Really good customer service
  18. People who are good at and love their jobs 
  19. The color orange 
  20. Opportunities
  21. Blessings
  22. My gym shoes
  23. Gum
  24. The beach
  25. Airplanes 
  26. Books
  27. The TV show This is Us 
  28. Doctors
  29. Socks
  30. Chocolate
  31. My noise cancelling headphones
  32. My refrigerator 
  33. My pastors. All of them. Past, present and future. 
  34. Cupcakes!!! 
  35. Hoodies
  36. Bon fires
  37. Memories
  38. My friends
  39. People who believe in me and never give up on me. 
  40. Love
  41. Hugs. Even though I don’t always like them…. I’m starting to be thankful for them. 
  42. Blankets
  43. Cozy pants 
  44. All things pumpkin spice
  45. Fireplaces
  46. HGTV
  47. My cuddly diabetic cat
  48. Stand up paddle boards
  49. Snow. Especially if I don’t have to drive in it. It’s really quite pretty.
  50. Sunsets
  51. Mexico
  52. IKEA
  53. The Internet
  54. My glasses. Even though I would rather wear my contacts
  55. My running shoes 
  56. The seasons
  57. My new car. 
  58. School supplies
  59. My education
  60. The roof over my head
  61. The fact that in all reality my jeans still fit. 
  62. The air in my lungs 
  63. Children. They bring lots of joy into my life.
  64. The opportunity to influence people’s life’s 
  65. My job. As much as I complain about it. 
  66. Vacations
  67. Disney 
  68. Jesus. My lord and savior
  69. My DVR
  70. The Green Bay Packers
  71. People who told me I could never amount to anything. I like proving people wrong.
  72. The fact that everyday is a new opportunity 
  73. Hot tubs
  74. Stars
  75. Christmas
  76. My credit card
  77. Photos
  78. Artwork
  79. Free will
  80. People who do the jobs that I could NEVER do.
  81. The mountains
  82. Clouds on a sunny day
  83. Sunglasses
  84. People who see things differently than I do
  85. Games
  86. My coworkers
  87. The little things in life
  88. Target!!!!! 
  89. Facebook
  90. Ice cream
  91. People who “get” me
  92. Flowers
  93. The struggles
  94. Animals
  95. Rainbows
  96. Fall colors
  97. Adventure
  98. Competition
  99. People who put their lives on the line everyday to keep us safe
  100. And a special shout out to the boyfriend. I’m more and more thankful to him everyday. And I don’t know if I say it enough. 

#11forJacob 

I thought about going so many directions with this blog. On one hand I am at a loss for words. And on another hand I have so much to say. 

This is a story that…. As a kid growing up in central Minnesota in the 80’s…drastically rocked our world and changed our childhood. It’s a story about a young, outgoing, friendly 11 year old kid…. Whose smile apparently lit up a room. This is a story about a horrific tragedy of him being taken. Kidnapped. One night in October almost 27 years ago. In a little bitty town in central Minnesota (far to close to home). This is the story about a legacy and a mothers love. And actually it’s not just a story.  

You see this happened. Jacob Wetterling (who I never knew) was kidnapped. For 27 years it was a mystery what happened to Jacob. 27 years we looked for answers. 27 years we searched and searched. We finally have answers. And however horrific those answers are… They are answers. But I don’t want to talk about that. 

This past Saturday I was supposed to run a 10k. I decided instead to run an 11k and dedicate it to Jacob. (11 was his favorite number).  

 To be honest this run sucked. And when I got to thinking about it. I think it sucked for a reason. You see… When Jacob disappeared a lot of things changed. One of those things was the life of his mother. And every time I wanted to quit on Saturday my thoughts went to Patty Wetterling. His mom. Having an abducted son was something I think she never dreamed would happen. Who would?!? Here is what I find so freaking amazing. She has taken what could have been the demise of her, what she could have easily gotten angry at the world for and turned it into good. Within months of the abductionshe created a foundation for missing and exploited children. Has even beenan advocate for sexual abuse. And continued to look for her son. I read somewhere that there was over 50,000 tips coming in on his whereabouts and turning up nothing!! 

It made me stop and think. What would have I done? How long would have I searched? Where does that strength come from?

On this run, I wanted to stop. A.Lot! More than usual. Every time I wanted  I thought “Patty Wetterling never quit, I can’t either.” That’s true in running and in life. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it is freaking hard. But we don’t quit. We don’t stop. We can’t. What happens if we stop? We’re do we go? What gets accomplished? 

These are some of the things I’ve learned by watching Patty’s life the last almost 27  years:

HOPE. From the beginning it was always all about keeping Jacobs Hope alive. Jacob would have graduated from the high school I attended, the year I was a freshman.   

 

This was in the page where his senior picture should have been. HOPE. We had all signed a giant poster that hung in the high school that said Jacobs Hope. You have to have HOPE. 

Faith. She believed that Jacob was alive. She was living as if Jacob was out there somewhere just waiting to be found. And lived life as he was. Continung to remember each birthday. FAITH.

Preserverence. Her continued fight. Even she the path was long and dark and lonely….she persevered. She didn’t quit. PERSERVERANCE. 

Commitment. Her endless commitment to not only Jacob, but protecting children and raising awareness. Her commitment to the community and her family. COMMITMENT.

Strength. All along she has been a source of strength. Most surprising is the way she handled the news of “that night” after nearly 27 years of searching for answers. This was her statement to the news media following the court appearance:  

 All I have to say is wow. This women wow’s me. And that’s a list I can get behind. Eat ice cream, giggle, pray, create joy… I’m in!  STRENGTH.

Love. I am not a mother. I have experienced a mothers love, cuz my mom is pretty freakin awesome… But wow. The love. Not only for her child, but other children. It’s inspiring. That’s all I have to say. LOVE.

And as far as Jacob goes. I can imagine how proud he would be of his mother. And he, himself left quite a legacy. Made quite an impact! This one is for them: 

  
One more way they choose to do good in the face of pain and tragedy is a list of 11 things we should do. Let’s make the world a better place.  I mean, how much better would this world be if we did these simple things?!? 

 
I have never met Patty and I really don’t know how someone you have never met can touch you so deeply…but Patty Wetterling has really inspired me. 

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….