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.

DSCN1810

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:

DSCN1799.JPG

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!

26776819389_66b900ba2b_z

  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!

23622387_10155882170327387_2947962298744049062_n

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!

DSCN1960

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.

DSCN1945

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.

38520712412_6c496a3dff_z

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!

37664823425_28234c75e6_z

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!

38552747401_f7b83fffbc_k

Sometimes is’s fun to get a little fancy

DSCN1803

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!

Advertisements

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?!?! 
  

Who is that girl?!? 

This whole blog has been brewing in my head for quite some time. And I’m not really sure I can make it make sense… But I’m sure gonna try. It all started when I started seeing people post photos of kids going back to school pics of their  kids. Along with senior photos. I decided to look back at mine. It generated a lot of thoughts. Here is one of those photos: 

That was 1999.. And I was probably about 70ish lbs heavier then, than I am now. Here is the deal. I am gonna be real honest. I have been struggling lately. Not so much taking my healthy living journey seriously. Tired of constantly making good choices. Feeling a little…maybe a lot.. Stressed out. So I take it out on food. Why? Cuz that’s what I know. That’s what my fall back has always been. Eating right is NOT always fun. Working out flat out sucks sometimes. Quitting is really…really an appealing options. Eat what I want and be lazy.. Sign me up. But wait just a second. Let’s think about how unhappy, unhealthy chubby Tonya was. How much it sucked to carry around that much extra weight. How I could not see my feet beyond my belly when I stood up. How self conscious I was. How I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do. How I didn’t even try because of my size. How quiet and shy (some of you don’t believe that… But it’s true). Sometimes I don’t even recognize that girl… But sometimes she is so close to being back it’s a little scary. Do I want to go back? Who do I want to be?!? 

So these were the thoughts that were going on in my head when I get a text from my brother. Said he showed my 5 year old niece this photo:

  Her response was: Auntie Tonya (I am the one in the grey) looks different. Which lead me down a whole new train of thought. I have 4 nephews and a niece. Ranging in age from 3-6 years old. They currently don’t know “Chubby Tonya”. They know auntie Tonya who loves to chase them and play on the playground with them and race them (Carter says I am the fastest). They know an Auntie that tries to make good choices and tries to teach them about balance. They know an auntie who runs for fitness and for fun. An auntie who has run a lot of 5ks (I should count!). An auntie who is learning to be happy with how far she has come. They know a much more confident person than I was in high school. I think I want to be the Auntie they know. I don’t think they need to know Chubby Tonya. I am not ashamed of who I was…and I am not yet who I want to be. And I may have even gone backwards a time or twenty… But I didn’t give up. I WON’T give up. I can’t give up. That is the lesson I want them to get from my journey. Not giving up. And being healthy is worth it. That is the Auntie I want to be. Yes, I struggle… And I expect that to continue. But I will keep fighting. For them and for me. I know what to do. I have the support system to make it happen… But it’s ultimately up to ME to make this happen. And you know what?!? I got this. 

I did that?!?! 

So a month ago I wrote a blog. And I received some of the kindest words from a friend of mind. Apparently I inspire people! Me?!?! I guess so! How did I do such a thing? Just by being me I guess! Here is what a friend of mind posted on Facebook….     

First I need to say that I am so freaking proud of how she has taken control of her life that it’s an inspiration to me! It’s definitely a full circle type of deal. 
It really did get me thinking. How Would 221 lb Tonya have reacted if you would have told her that someday she would inspire someone to lose half their body weight? What would she say if you told her that countless people would look to her for inspiration and motivation on a regular basis? If you would have told Chubby Tonya that people would literally make different choices from the vending machine just because I walked in the break room? 

This much I know. I would not have believed it was a possibility. I didn’t have enough belief in myself that I would be able to make the changes necessary to even be where I am today. But I started on a journey… That has been steal,y quite amazing ….

I think The coolest part about what Bonnie wrote is that fact that I inspired her just by being me. By my being imperfect and flawed and being honest about my struggles and just by living my life. Not shoving healthy living down her throat.  That’s how I hope to continue to be. An inspiration just by being me.

It’s people like Bonnie that keep me having my head in the game. It was really easy when I was leading weight watchers meetings (chubby Tonya would have laughed if you told her that was in her future!) and had to stand up in front of a group of people and be accountable. Now, I don’t have that. I don’t have to weigh in weekly. It is up to me to keep going. And it’s hard…

Being someone’s inspiration is really kind of a cool thing… But it’s also a lot of pressure. Like I can’t slip up. I have to stay on my A game. However, it also means that when I do have a moment there are always people to knock me back to my senses 😉 I am so blessed to have such a solid support system! 

Your future is in your hands. What are you going to do with it? People are watching you… Be proud of who you are. And be You. You are beautiful, capable and amazing… Above all.. You are worth it! It’s not easy! Losing weight was not easy and keeping it off is not any easier. But don’t give up! Deal?!? 

Choose your struggle 

Choose your struggle 

Confession. I have been struggling recently. The basic struggle is the feeling that I am not where I should be. Not where I want to be. Thinking I should be closer to my goals than I am. Not so much struggling to the point of wanting to quit. Just frustrated. This got me thinking… (Scary right?!?) Then I realize that there are choices involved. I choose to push through the struggle and come out on the other side stronger… Or choose a different struggle. 77 pounds ago A LOT of things were a struggle. Physically, mentally, emotionally. It was just a different struggle. This whole journey is all about choices. Choosing to lace up my tennis shoes and go for a run.

Choosing to make good food choices. … Sometimes. 

I did say No to the doughnuts! We won’t talk about the French fries I had later…

Choosing not let the *couch of awesomeness* win the couch vs gym battle.

Choosing the stairs.  

 Everything is a choice.

Today I volunteered at the extreme inflatable 5k. Below is my favorite photo from the run.


Our obstacle (wrecking ball)  was about half way through the 3 mile course.  That’s Niki! 

It was halfway up the third hill of tourture the runners were facing. Talk about a struggle!  
  This is looking down the hill… The runners were going to come up… And looking up the hill they were facing after our obstacle.

I heard lots of “I quit” “this sucks” “who’s idea was this?!?”. The saddest thing I heard was “I’m too fat for this” I quickly encouraged her and told her she was doing awesome! She was struggling but she was out there doing it! So inspiring. But it got me thinking. I never want to say that again. I have been there!!! I hated it! So I am choosing this struggle. The healthy eating (with out deprivation). Active. Feeling better. Still not where I quite wanna be… But definitely not where I once was. Struggle. What will you choose?!?

Believe in Yourself

I am guessing I am not alone in this… but sometimes I have doubts. Crazy right?!?!? I think things are impossible so sometimes…. just sometimes…. it stops me from even trying. Do you know how strange that is? Let’s think about it… how do you know you can’t do something if you never tried? What do you have to lose. Sometimes my confidence waivers and I start believing the “you can’t do it” lie. And thoughts of quitting and doubt and fear try and creep in. This is where my Believe tattoo come in handy cuz I need  a constant reminder to believe.  Here is a story about a time where I didn’t quit…

This story takes place in Cold Spring MN at the iRock Run 5K that was on Saturday May 2nd. First I have to tell you that this run hold a special place in my heart. The run starts at the company that a lot of my uncles worked and my grandpa Mack worked as well. I just feel a sense of connection to them being there. The run brings you through the lot that houses all the granite and part of it even went through the warehouse. It was just so cool to be surrounded by the product (granite) that they used to work with for years and years.  I can only imagine how proud my grandpa would be of me. He passed away when I was a teenager. I was a VERY different person then! Just being there made me feel nostalgic and I wanted to do really well to make him proud.

Me with grandpa mack (2)

This is the last photo I have of me and my grandpa Mack (he made me sit on his lap). Love this photo.

I really had my heart set on doing well in this 5k. I knew from past experience that this was a small run with few participants so I figured I could end up in the top finishers. However… the week before the 5k I logged 23 miles in 7 days.(that is a lot for me in a week these days… so the doubt started creeping in) Needless to say my legs felt a little like Jello. Oh and I Rollerbladded 6 miles on Friday night also.

The day of the run was HOT. It was 75 degrees. Unseasonably warm for May in MN. I wasn’t ready for that. It seemed like my dreams of doing well were shot a few times. The legs, the heat and there was a HUGE issues with my music. This girl doesn’t run without music. Long story short I got to the starting line and my iPod has been wiped of ALL my music. So I had to run listening to my iPhone music that kept playing the same song on repeat!  Funny story the lyrics of the song go ” you’re not gonna die tonight” that was just what I needed to hear. (not necessarily over and over and over again) Needless to say I was fidgeting with my phone more than I should have been. I never stop and walk in a 5k. well I had to this time. I got a major side pain! However I pushed through. I had grandpa Mack to make proud and most of all I had Me to make proud too.  So I just kept putting on foot in front of the other. I had a little chat with… well me… and it went something like “you aren’t a quitter anymore.” I have decided that quitting is caterpillar behavior. I am working on making butterfly decisions.  The butterfly decision here was to give it my all. When I started running (in 2011) I would slow down when I came close to the finish because I think subconsciously I figured I was gonna finish so I would take a break or something dumb. Now I power through to the very end. As you might have guessed it I didn’t quit.   Not this time!

I came across the finish line like a champ.

11150367_845105288894442_9060773124381262383_n That is me finishing with flair. Yup. I am a dork. But I didn’t quit. I chose to believe in myself. I killed this 5k and I was so freaking proud of me. Had I let those doubts win… I would have never had that feeling. I would have never got a twenty five dollar gift certificate towards new SHOES (I like shoes) and I would have never got this cool little granite plaque thingy ….

0180cde43e043d864986570ec732886695aa2d8a96The reason behind the award… well I was the second female in my age group to cross the finish line. The reason behind the gift certificate was because I was the 3rd female to cross the finish line. Even better is my time was 24:22. My fastest 5k time yet! Nailed it! Here is the fitsnap I made of the run.

01388fd3b1d4e571da416a7a05f6c9794ebae6f7e6_00001So much orange= Awesome! The moral of the story is this: Believe in yourself. Whether it’s in business, in weight loss, in fitness or basically in life in general. You are worth believing in. You can do things you never thought were possible. Be the person you want to be. Only you can control that. The future is what you make it. I know all of those things are cliché but they are true. Think of the things you can accomplish if you acted like you believed in you. I know I have quoted it before and I am sure I will quote it again “You will always act like the person you believe yourself to be”. My Pastor Brian says it a lot. So my question to you is: Who do YOU believe YOURSELF to be?!?!?

Earth day 5k.

I have to take a moment to recognize the epicness that was Friday night in TonyaLand. First I have to start by telling you that this particular 5k is one of my favorite runs of the year. Many different reasons A) it was my very first official 5k that I ever did. b) the course is beautiful c) the atmosphere is energizing d) it takes place at the college I graduated at. I look forward to this run for months. This year I even picked out my running clothes the night before (yep, I’m THAT girl). So Friday comes and the weather couldn’t be more perfect. Making me super gitty. Sunny and warm! I had a hard time sitting at work that day (who am I kidding I have a hard time sitting at work most days!)

As the start time approaches I start getting sick to my stomach. Nerves. Butterflies. Whatever. I thought I was gonna puke. It was awesome. If your not a runner this next part will make me sound even more crazy. But the thoughts that go through my head when I am running are ALL over the place. Thoughts of quitting, walking, fainting, breathing, hyperventilating, tripping, maybe even dying (yes I can be a little over dramatic) are frequent.
Running is so much of a mental sport. Have to keep calming myself down and telling myself to shut up. Reminding myself I can do it. One foot in front of the other… Just keep running… You know. The believe tattoo comes in handy in these times.
I had huge goals for myself. I wanted to finish right around 25 minutes. I also wanted to try and keep pace with Al. Who is Al you say? Well he is Celeste’s husband. Who is this Celeste you ask… Well she is my inspiration. My friend. My mentor… My accountability partner. Between Al, Celeste and I, we are running a combined 2015 miles this year. Team ACT! IMG_2984.JPG Al is a rock star runner. Also an inspiration. He has beat me every single run we have ever been at together. Every one. Well… I’ve kinda increased my running and my weight training… and I guess it’s paying off. I do have to thank him because I passed him… And then he caught up and passed me… Which made me run faster… And also said something encouraging to me when I was passing him. Quitting was not an option! Bottom line I finished in 25:16. Even better I took 3rd in my age group out of 139 girls my age. Even more motivating is the girl who finished first in my age group finished 86 seconds faster than me…. Oh the possibilities. If I keep training and working hard… The sky’s the limit!

IMG_0347.PNG
I should mention that the girl who finished first in my age groups last name is FAST… I mean really… How are you supposed to compete with that?!? So I did a little comparing me to… Well me…. Conclusion= I am not quite who I want to be… But I for sure am not who I used to be. I am really my biggest computation and sometimes just need to get out if my own way. Friday I kicked chubby Tonya’s butt. Overcame my own doubts and pushed myself beyond my preconceived notions of my inabilities. I let go of “I can’t”… And wondered if I could. I gave it my all.
My weight loss journey started in 2001. Hit a plateau and was conned/ tricked/ dragged… Somehow convinced to start running. And now I can’t stop. But here is a fun little side by side of my first earth day and Fridays run:

IMG_0348.JPG
Bottom line. The little things you do day in and out great big changes!

And how does the girl who comes in 3rd in her age group on Friday night celebrate? By going out for a 10k run on Saturday afternoon of course. I was just going to go out for a “little, slow recovery run” and well 6.2 miles later… Again the weather was perfect! I ran my old neighborhood. Where I started this whole running thing. Crazy how much easier it is now. They say one day your workout will be your warm up. Never before have I believed that. Here is a photo from that run….

IMG_2996-1.JPG
Yes I ran up that spiral ramp. So much fun!
And as if this blog wasn’t long enough I need to brag on my boyfriend for just a minute. Speaking of inspirational. This guy has pretty much lost as much as I weigh. No joke! He is NOT a runner…. And probably will never be one. And that is okay! However he knows how much I love it and humored me and did the Earth Day run with me. He did so with a smile and all 😉 it meant so much to me that he would do that for me. He refuses to recognize how far he’s come so I have to do it for him. Here is an adorable after photo of us….

IMG_2988.JPG
You just never know who you are inspiring with your life. Be the person you want to be. Don’t quit. Keep smiling and choose joy. That’s all for now… Until next time… Make good choices.