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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Redefining success

So…I’ve struggled with writing this blog for months. MONTHS! And I think I’ve got a good idea why. Success is something I don’t feel qualified to talk about. And I’ll tell you why in just a second, but first I just have to say it’s because if those very things I just might be perfectly qualified to write this blog. Here’s the thing. I fail. A lot. 

I fail at maintaining a positive attitude (choosing joy if you will). 

I fail at being the kind of friend/ daughter/ sister/ auntie/ cousin/ coworker/ employee  (You get the idea) that I would like to be. 

I fail at being a good girlfriend (I take out a lot of my attitude and issues on my wonderful, loving, and very understanding boyfriend). 

I fail at returning phone calls (sorry grandma!) 

I fail at doing stuff. I have a lot of great ideas and fail at following through. 

I fail at making good choices… I try… But that dang sweet tooth!!! And that emotion eating thing. And onion rings. 

I fail at my job… More than I would care to admit. 

I fail at keeping track of my checkbook (thank God for my mother) 

I fail at reading my Bible regularly. 

I fail at being in the moment sometimes. 

I can’t even manage to take a ONE a day vitamin for crying out loud. 

When I was growing up I always figured that by 35 I would be married. Have a houseful (more like 2 kids) a house and a dog. I would be working as a kindergarten teacher and loving life. Well… Life had other plans. There is NO freaking way that 17 years as a bill collector (well… Some of those were customer service years) was something I thought of. Ever! But does that mean I’m not successful? I don’t hit my “goal” at work every month. But does that make me a failure? Am I trying new things? Am I going outside my comfort zone?  Am I changing lives? How’s my attitude? I think these are the things that should be defining my work succes. It’s hard…..VERY hard to see that in the moment, but sometimes I need to step back and realize it. 

What I realized when thinking about this whole thing is that sometimes your definition changes over time. When I started my weight loss journey I viewed success as me fitting in a size 10 jeans. No lie. However…. Today if I had to buy a size 10 I would be disappointed in myself. Not because there is ANYTHING wrong with being a size 10, but because I am currently like a size 3-4. And me going back to a 10 at this point would really show I had given Up.   This isn’t about pants size… It’s about how perspective changes as time passes and goals are hit or things change.  On a related topic when I started thinking about wanting to run, I wanted to 30 seconds, yes SECONDS!  Without feeling like I was going to die. Now, I run 5 miles for fun. Things change, the definition has to change at some point.  

I guess I say all this to pose a question. What does success look like to you? How do you define success? I asked this question on my Facebook and had several conversations with people about it. I got lot of interesting answers. Some very specific summed up as results define success. A lot of people said they define success by how happy they are. Some people responded that it’s the seeds you plant and the legacy that you leave behind that really defines success. 

I guess what I’m learning is that it’s the daily things that add up to success. I’m still trying to figure this all out. I’m not perfect. And you know what?!?! . I’m going to keep failing. Maybe success is not letting that failure define me. Maybe it’s not letting failure keep me from keeping on trying. Maybe it’s getting back up once I’ve been knocked down. Idiot really know the answer…. 

What are your thoughts? 

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?!?! 
  

We fall down…

So I had a really interesting run the other day and I learned a few lessons that I figured I should right about. Started with a thought. Let’s try and run this beautiful quarry area by my house and experience the fall colors. Trail run they said… It will be fun they said. Well… Less than a mile in I twisted my ankle pretty good. My thoughts were “ouch, ouch, ouch… And  please don’t hurt… Please don’t hurt…” I had two choices at that moment… Quit or keep going. Well.. I keep going. I figured with the uneven terrain..and well.. Me. Being. Me… I slowed down a tidge. It was absolutely stunning. Weather was beautiful and colors were breath taking.  

Here is the view: 

     At about 1 1/2 miles on my way out of the quarry I had a thought. And it was something I hope I don’t fall down because it would suck to get hurt the day before you leave on a vacation. Before the thought finished being totally formed in my head… That very thing happened. Fell flat on my face. Really glad there was no one around… I’m sure it didn’t look very graceful. I got up… Found my phone that had been launched a few feet away, brushed myself off and again and again I was left with two choices. Quit. Walk home. Quit and call it a day. Or keep putting one foot in front of the other. As I am in the process of making this decision when I get a text from a friend saying that because of me she was choosing Joy despite her current situation. So of course I did the same. I can tell you my five mile run was cut to 3.5. And I did it with a smile. I figured I should be smart and not get home and stretch and heal. I wasn’t hurt bad. I am a little sore today… But not broken. 

Here’s what I learned. Falling down is okay. It happens. It what you do when you fall that builds character. What did we learn from being knocked down. How do we move forward and be stronger because of it? Of course I’m no longer talking about running. Life presents all sorts of opportunity to fall down and stay down. Challenges. Struggles…. Monday’s! Do we let things define us or shape us? 

Challenge yourself. Try something new. Go somewhere you have never been. Get out of your comfort zone. Sure I fell… But I had an experience on that trail and saw things I would have never seen had I stuck to the roads I’m used to. If you want things in life you’ve never had, you have to do things you have never done. Scary. Sure. Might you fail? Yup! But maybe, just maybe you will succeed. How will you know if you don’t try? 

Also there is a choose joy component. Joy is always an option. Is it easy? Nope. Not always. 

Question: what will you do when you fall? 

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. 

Dreams do come true

Time to blog… It’s been quite awhile since I posted a blog. Several reasons. Technology hasn’t been my friend. Been… Let’s say a little stressed out and a little busy. But I do have to take a moment and talk about the good things that have been going on. Take a quite trip back a few weeks when my boyfriend posed an interesting question. The bottom line was how fast could I run a mile. I don’t really run just a mile anymore. I like to run 5 miles when I go out for a run. So I set out to answer the question. I went to a local track and ran a mile: here is what happened…  

The girl who could barley finish a mile in 14 minutes in high school (yes… I know that was a long time ago… But still). I must admit I was pretty dang proud of this. I don’t brag on myself much… But when I started running just like 4 years ago I couldn’t run even a mile. I literally couldn’t run like 30 seconds… So I am going to be proud of this. So there 😉 full disclosure I didn’t stop after this mile. I ran another 2. But not as fast. Second mile was 8:22 and the third mile 7:25. I am actually more proud of being able to knock out that third mile at that speed. 

Bottom line. Do NOT give up. And when your tired… Just keep going. It’s worth it. I promise. 

Up next. A little weekend road trip I have been dreaming about since I learned it exsisted. A little background. I am a Minnesota girl who loves the Green Bay Packers, it’s a long story and I get A LOT of crap about it… But it’s all good. I stand by my team. However I have never been to Lambeau Field. I discovered last year that they do a 5k where you actually run iN Lambeau field! Of course I wanted to go. Somehow I conned my non-runner, Eagles fan Boyfriend to go on an adventure to Green Bay, Wisconsin. (It wasn’t really all that hard and I think he enjoyed it just a little)  

 
For me…The experience was more than I dreamed it would be. Just being there was incredible. But the run was so well organized and FUN! Not going to lie I got a little emotional entering the players tunnel and as I made the lap around the field. The coolest part of the whole run was seeing myself on the jumbotron as we ran around the inside of Lambeau!  I couldn’t get a photo of me on the screen without really affecting my time (yeah.. I’m a little competitive now, and no it wasn’t my fastest…I didn’t expect it to be)… But here is a photo of me at Lambeau with the Jumbotron in the background. Soooooo cool!  

 

Was a beautiful day/trip that I will never forget! 

They say you know your a runner when you plan trips around running… Well I guess I’m a runner. What a great way to see the sights. Wonder were our next running adventure will be….. 

Here are a few more photos from our trip… And of course technology is still fighting me and I can’t get all the photos I really want on here… But whatever.   

  

Seems only fitting to go to titletown brewing company! I had a delicious cream soda! 

  

We wanted to go to the hall of fame.. But it was closed… So took a photo of the giant Lombardi trophy! 

  

I am a cheese head and I know it…. 

  

Pre run selfie… 

  

The finish line… Aka… The end zone! 
   

So yeah.. Pursue your dreams people! You never know what might be possible!  Surround yourself with supportive people and never give up. Ever!