THE BACK STORY:
When I heard Jim and Tonya’s story, I knew right away that I wanted them to realize they are Dynamo. I love how they build each other up and at the same time, set the example for each other when the other isn’t feeling motivated. I love watching a team effort.
To date, Tonya has lost 85 pounds and Jim has lost 53 pounds. They have goals for more, but I think that’s the power behind their story. As I sat and listened to them, about the changes they’ve made, about the dedication their giving, and about the real struggle, I feel so grateful to have captured there mid-journey reflections. It’s not all about where we end up, but the fight along the way. That’s the part that makes us who we become.
They are Dynamo because of the example they are giving, because they were willing to change what was comfortable to what will make them really happy, and because rather than focusing on a large goal in the future, they can take small steps that will eventually lead to big goals.
Dynamo people are those who are moving forward in their healthy living. This looks different from person to person. We are all in different places. I’m celebrating wherever you and they are at in this journey. Celebrating each others’ successes and being inspired by our collective stories will propel us all to be strong, be brave, and be kind. Be strong in your convictions and when you’re not, find a Dynamo for yourself. Here’s Jim and Tonya…
What is one of your favorite things to do together?
Tonya – Fishing. Being outdoors.
Jim – We love to fish.
Tonya – We both grew up doing it and now we both do it together.
How often do you go?
Tonya – Not as much as we’d like to. When the fishing’s good, then we try to go once a month if not more. We go to Clackamas River.
What’s one of your favorite stories from fishing together?
Jim – Everytime we go fishing she tries to knock me out of the boat!
Tonya – Yes I do.
Jim – One time she almost succeeded. My face was almost to the water.
Tonya – My dad was rowing and Jim was sitting beside me. We were going to spinner fish. He stood up to spinner fish and then I just rocked the boat really hard and he almost went over, but he didn’t.
Jim – Luckily. I wasn’t in shorts and a t-shirt, it was jeans and a long sleeve shirt, because we get out there early in the morning.
Tonya – Another is that he caught a fish and he was reeling it in, he got it close to the boat, we got the net almost right at it, and then it spit the hook, and swam away.
How has working together to get healthy made your relationship stronger?
Tonya – He’s seen me at my weakest point. Building up from that we worked as a team. You hit your lows together and you’re doing your highs together as well. As a team…you’re doing it together. We know what we’re each going through, what we feel.
Jim – It gives us something else to do together. We have our own individual activities, I’m into woodworking, she’s into crafting, and being able to work out together gives us a common goal, gives us something to do together. You know, we’re both doing the same thing. We do crafting the woodworking in the same room, but when we’re working out, running, going for a power walk or something like that, we can discuss things.
Did you decide separately or together to take this journey?
Jim – I think we both kinda hit our lows at the same time.
Tonya – We did. And then it was my New Year’s Resolution, January 6th, 2014 is when I started a year ago. Then he just jumped on board and we started doing it together.
How much have you lost since then?
Tonya – I’ve lost 85 lbs.
Jim – I’ve lost 53 lbs.
Has this journey challenged your marriage at all?
Jim – I think the competition. I hate losing. I’m so proud of her, but I’m used to winning! I’m like no!
Tonya – You met your match!
Jim – I don’t think it’s challenged our marriage, I think it’s challenged me.
Tonya – I don’t think it’s challenged our marriage, I think it’s challenged each other personally.
Have you learned something about each other in this process that you didn’t know or realize before?
Tonya – His willpower. It’s a lot stronger than I thought it was. Just the willpower to keep going is what has kept mine going.
Jim – Her determination. It kept me going. She starts out with a small goal, and that’s what I love about her. She starts out with a small goal: okay, we’re going to lose 10 pounds. And that has escalated. So just her willingness to set small goals. Me, I always look at goals way in the future, so that was always hard for me. That’s why diets and stuff have failed for me. I’ve always thought I have to lose 150 pounds. But she broke it down into little 10 pound increments so that helped out a lot. That organizational skill of hers.
What was your ah-ha moment to begin this journey?
Jim – I know mine. Mine was I stepped on the scale and saw a number that I’d never seen before. In high school I did athletics and I was fit, toned, ready to go at all times. You know I’m coming up on my 10 year reunion and I stepped on that scale and went, “oh, my goodness.” I saw that and it actually brought me to tears. I said that’s it, I can’t do this anymore. I want to play with my children and not just be sitting on the couch saying, “go play outside.” That’s what hit it for me. That number…I can’t do this anymore.
Tonya – For me it was some of the pictures I’d seen of myself. I didn’t like it. Another one was a miscarriage. I’m not able to conceive right now and so I have to go see a specialist. (pause…with tears) I didn’t want to walk in there and have him say you need to lose weight. My thing is that. You do anything for a child even though I don’t have one right now.
What has changed about your lifestyle from before Jan. 6th of last year?
Tonya – What kind of food we have in the house. We’re more active, being outside.
Jim – Being more active. I’d come home from work, sit on the couch, and veg all day until she got home from work or it was time to go to bed. But now I’m up moving around, I’ll go outside for a walk, and want to do things outside.
How much has your diet change played into what you’ve been able to accomplish?
Tonya – A lot. We would probably never eat vegetables. We didn’t ever really eat vegetables or anything like that before. It was always like Hamburger Helper or macaroni and cheese (that’s my weakness). Now we do salads at least once a day, if not more. And it’s just vegetable and fruit now.
Jim – Leaner meats. We’re not all beef or all steak, we do chicken, fish, and more whole grains.
Tonya – We actually look at the serving sizes now, instead of what we actually want.
Do you have a weekly routine that helps you stay on track?
Tonya – For eating, I actually plan our meals a week in advance, down to snacks even, Monday through Sunday. I do breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. Then when you walk into the kitchen, rather than saying, “oh, what do I want?” it’s already planned out for you. So it’s been much less munching on snacks.
Jim – It makes it easy for me. I do shift work but I’m 7-3 Monday through Friday. She is all over the board (for her job). So if I come home and she has got to work 1:30 to 10, it’s like “Ah, crud. What do I make for dinner? Hey it’s right there on the list. I’ll make it up real quick.” It makes it a lot easier. I would spend 10-15 minutes at the refrigerator going “what can I make, what can I make…”
Tonya – Doing that has helped financially as well. I write out my grocery list and I can say, “I need 4 cucumbers this week,” instead of walking into the grocery store and saying, “Yah, sure. This looks good.”
Tonya – Also, we go jogging every other day. We still go at night or early in the morning, when it’s still dark out.
What has been the hardest thing to change? And how do you prevent backsliding on that thing?
Tonya – Probably my carbs. I’m a carb person. The eating is the hardest thing – the potatoes and the bread. I just don’t buy them anymore. I do my list and I don’t even walk down that aisle with the mashed potatoes. If I don’t start, then I’m good.
Jim – Mine would probably be the exercising part. You tell yourself you’re going to set aside a ½ an hour to go exercise and if you don’t do it, then you find yourself a slug again. Just sitting there. If you take that time, you have to make sure you use that time. Set that time aside, even if it’s just to go walk for 20 minutes. You’re out there burning calories, you got your heart rate up, and you don’t have to go sprinting or jogging for ½ an hour. Just get out there and move! That’s it.
How do you encourage each other when it’s hard and not what you want to do?
Jim – Praise. I know I’m praising her a lot. Especially after the holidays it was horrible because you kinda get off track during the holidays cause you’re always running around, seeing different family members, you’re not eating right. Then after the first of the year we said we needed to start this back up again. It was hard. On those nights that we were jogging. It was, “How you doing? You’re doin’ great, you’re amazing.” And just keep going.
Tonya – Just being the example. Instead of saying, “Hey, do you want to go?” And if he says, “well, no.” Then YOU actually get up and go. Do it by yourself to show him that…just go for it.
What are your current goals?
Tonya – I still want to lose another 70 pounds. And just keep up the healthy eating.
Jim – I have my 10 year reunion coming up in June and I want to be down to what I was in high school. I’ve got probably another 50 pounds to go for June. It’s going to be tough, but it’s all about setting those little 5 and 10 pound goals.
How do you feel like your fitness journey has inspired other people?
Tonya – My personal family, my mom has lost weight, my brother is losing weight again too. They are eating better. My brother is jogging again. My sister-in-laws, we did the turkey trot together. My personal family is eating and doing a lot more. Plus the competition. We’re a very competitive family…“If she can do it, we can do it!” His family is starting to lose weight. At work people are starting to notice it. They’ll say, “I went on a 20 minute walk the other day!” I never thought people would look at me that way. Like, “you’re an inspiration.” So it’s kinda different.
Do you in any way feel happier now than you did a year ago?
Tonya – I have more pride in myself.
Jim – The more energy I’ve seen in myself, the more happy, I’m happier.
If you could go back to yourself a year ago, just starting this, what would you tell yourself?
Tonya – It gets easier. It was really hard at first because I just wanted…you know all the cravings you have at first. After a while you won’t. It gets a lot easier, so just keep going.
Jim – Get off the couch! Get off the couch and move.
If someone wanted to start and didn’t know how, what would you tell them?
Tonya – Get a buddy or friend to do it with you. Even if you don’t have the same big goals, like they need to lose 30 pounds and you need to lose more, but do it with a friend. Do it together so you have someone to lean on. Write it down in a diary. Keep track. Feel accountability to yourself.
Jim – Eat like you have been for a week, write that down, and then change. Then compare the two weeks. How did you feel the first week when you were eating what you’re normally eating and how you felt when you changed.