Guest Perspective: Shonna

Every so often, I’m going to incorporate stories of friends and colleagues and whoever wants to be included to share on the blog. While I like to think my own 100-pound weight loss can be inspiring to many, it’s so important to hear from different voices, as everyone faces unique obstacles and challenges throughout their lives.

I met my friend Shonna working at my current gym where I do personal training. She is a group exercise instructor of several different classes- hello Zumba and strength training- a passionate exerciser, and has a great fitness backstory she agreed to share.

Thank you, Shonna, for visiting GMMCA!

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When did you start exercising? Why? What did you do?
I remember doing tapes and television workouts when I was a little kid (Mousercise and Sweating to the Oldies were my favorites). I played sports a little and took dance lessons, but it was all pretty casual. After high school, I would join a gym and maybe walk on the treadmill or use the elliptical and machines, but I didn’t really have a plan or know what I was doing. I got way more into fitness around 2005 when I worked in the corporate world with a team that was really physically fit. We had a gym in our building and after a lot of convincing, I went to my first Spin class with my coworkers. I was surprised to see that it wasn’t scary at all! From there, I started running, worked with a trainer, and went to more classes.  In 2007, I became a Spin instructor and after being laid off from that corporate job, learned to teach more classes.
How has your routine and philosophy changed over the years?
I’ve become more comfortable with taking risks and trying new things! I really feel like you need to step out of your comfort zone because you never know how much you can do. I’ve also learned that while I love teaching, I need to set aside time for my own personal workouts and goals.
What does healthy living mean to you?
It’s an investment in my future. I have been through some health scares that were out of my control.  I want to be in control of everything I can to keep myself mobile and healthy and living a full life for as long as possible!
Are their any words of advice you’d offer to your younger self starting out on your journey?
Don’t be afraid! The gym, classes, trainers, running groups… they are not as scary as you think. You just need to find what works for you. I feel like some classes or organizations really have a bad reputation, but we are honestly here to help you. I know I try to make my classes as welcoming as possible for all levels and most instructors I know do the same. We all started somewhere!
What inspired you to become a fitness instructor? What do you love/hate most about it?
I was taking Spin twice a week in the gym at my office. They were looking for another instructor and I figured I was going anyhow, might be some good extra money.
I love seeing people achieve things they didn’t think they could. That could be anything from getting in the door in the first place to lifting a heavier weight than they thought possible.
I don’t really hate anything about it in general- but I don’t love when people come in with a closed mind or a negative attitude. It doesn’t happen that often, though!
Do you have any words of wisdom for someone starting out?
Find something you love to do and it won’t be a chore! If you are a social person, go to a class or join a group. If you like to keep to yourself, find a trainer to design a program just for you.
What’s your favorite exercise?
Right now, I love my CrossFit class because it’s different every day. I’m really lucky to have excellent coaches and a dedicated class full of really supportive people at many levels.
You only have half an hour to exercise, what do you do?
Ah! Some HIIT training! A good mix of cardio and strength.
What are you most proud of in regards to your health journey?
I’ve been up and down in weight over the years. Right now, I’m up more than I would like, but I still get out there and work hard. Sometimes I don’t give myself enough credit for that.
What are some challenges you’ve faced over the years?
It’s always the “diet” for me. I got to my goal weight in 2012 and was a vegan. It worked so well for me until I suddenly started experiencing  some frustrating things like gaining back weight and feeling exhausted all of the time. The next year, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and later with thyroid cancer. After a complete thryoidectomy and radioactive iodine treatment (and a full recovery!!!) the vegan diet didn’t work for me anymore. I’m still struggling to figure out what works for me after all of this.
Any healthy eating tips you want to share?
It’s not a one size fits all situation! I feel like the one thing we can all agree on is eat whole foods as much as possible, but after that, it’s so individual!

On the Beach

It’s Monday, I’m back from my vacation, but instead of feeling down, I’m feeling revitalized! A vacation was much needed and there’s no better remedy than time away on the beach!

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Ok, so this wasn’t the exact beach, but it’s still a picture of me at the beach.

Last week, I worked Monday and Tuesday and took off early morning on the Fourth to head to my cousin and uncle’s house on the beach. Look who got to come along thanks to the heat wave!

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Simba did an excellent job adapting to his new beach house and spent a majority of his time exploring and staring outside at all the animals.

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Much of the afternoon on the Fourth was spent at the beach and it was HOT. There was a breeze when we started and the water was refreshing, but once we went to dry off, the breeze disappeared. I love reading on the beach, but there’s only so much heat this girl could take, so we headed back to shower and attend a lovely BBQ at a friend’s place.

The night was capped off with some fireworks, as the Fourth of July should. I don’t adore fireworks, especially amateur ones, but the view sure was pretty.

On Thursday, my brother and I cooked up some breakfast to get us started on the day. We spent much of the morning relaxing but when the boys went golfing, the rest of us headed to the beach. Since it wasn’t as hot, I was able to run the 1.25 mile and felt good! I didn’t end up going in the water this time, but I did take a nice walk on the beach and spent some quality time reading!

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After a refreshing shower and nice cocktail hour, we went into town for dinner. Pizza was on the menu, as we dined outside by the fire pit! We capped things off with a beverage before calling it a night.

The rain came in on Friday, but we were still able to walk around a local town. We got lunch and headed back to pick up Simba and go home. It was a lovely time!

It was nice to still have the weekend as a buffer after vacation. On Friday afternoon, I fit in a heavy barbell and jump rope workout to combat all the indulgences of the week. For dinner, I enjoyed shrimp tacos, caught up on work, and watched Game Night, which was cute.

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Saturday morning called for a run! I crushed 3.1 miles and hopped right into the pool after because even though the intense heat abated a bit, the sun was still hot! I spent a good deal of time reading before my sister and her family came over to enjoy the afternoon. We ate dinner, passed around the baby, and relaxed.

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On Sunday, I was up early to grocery shop and came home to make a veggie omelette for breakfast. After, I did a body strength circuit workout with jump roping intertwined. I was nice and sweaty after and once again ready to hop into the pool.

The afternoon consisted of reading, writing, and catching up on household things.

How was your weekend?

lifely things

It’s been awhile since we’ve just chatted, so I’m back with a few life updates. As you know if you’ve been reading for awhile, I’ve been a cat mom for the better part of a year now and he’s pretty much taken over my life. He enjoys looking out the window, demanding pats, and following me around the house so that I cannot be productive. Simba is a sweet and healthy boy and I am very grateful for him!

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He needs to be touching me at all times.

I’m back to working as a personal trainer, which I love. It’s a rewarding experience to help people begin or re-inspire their health journeys. As I’m learning, there’s never an end,- until, you know…the end- and there’s a whole world of complicated health and wellness information to dissect, so it’s nice to help and learn from clients!

For the past few months, I’ve also been trying to lose weight again. It’s not always a fun or easy process and there’s many ups and downs, but thus far, I’m down ten pounds. For the past few weeks, I’ve been losing 2 ounces a week consistently, so it’s something. I’ll include a little more about that, including what I eat daily in an upcoming blog post.

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Much of my week, as everyone’s does, resides around work and daily happenings. My workouts have consisted of three days of running and three days of strength training with shorter bursts of cardio.

Another big part of my life right now is my now month-old niece who is a darling! I’m not sure how her parents feel about posting pictures of her, so I’ll hold off for now. It’s crazy to think that this little bundle, who I didn’t know for 28 years and five months, has now become an integral part of my life.

On weekends, I try to incorporate a healthy mixture of active and relaxing. Since the weather is getting nicer, I enjoy walking, running, hiking, and biking (and staying far away from the gym!) for exercise. Going out with friends and staying in with Simba are equally important.

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In addition to picking up my writing, I’ve been reading a lot, from fun summer reads like The Last Mrs. Parrish and some words of life wisdom, such as The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, as well as teaching myself basic coding to gain some computer skills.

I’m excited that summer has finally arrived and happy to be back writing to all of you.

Happy Thursday!

rebranding

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Almost two years ago, I moved to LA to pursue a career in writing. I had a foot in the door, flirted with the prospect of maybe, kinda, sort of having a measure of success in getting into the industry at the lowest level.

I came home.

For the past few months, it’s been challenging. I’m happy to be closer to family and friends, thrilled to be a new aunt, and proud to be working as a personal trainer and helping people on their health journeys. I’m also happy to have tried LA, lived it, experienced and explored because I do miss it, more than I anticipated.

More than anything, I’m a little lost. As I edge nearer to 30, I feel like I should have my life figured out more than I do. I get so caught up in thinking how my life should be going rather than focusing on where I am right now. I’ve been a little ball of anxious, negative energy and I’m ready to come out of it.

This is evidenced more in what I claim to be most passionate about: writing. In all the articles and books, random words of advice I’ve poured over to make me a better writer, the message is clear, in order to make it as a writer, you need to write. I haven’t.

So here we are again. When I first created Give Me My Crown Already, I was on the brink of graduating college, I had just lost 100 pounds, and I felt as confident and prepared as I ever had in my life.

Since, I’ve learned a lot about what I don’t want to do professionally and more about sacrifices and failures that were unexpected. I’ve gained a few pounds and sometimes hate myself for it because I think I should have this down by now. It makes me skeptical and negative and exhausted.

When I first was losing weight, I knew nothing. I just tried. Exercise was my best friend. Going from nothing to something had fantastic results and working out helped me better to manage my anxiety. I enjoyed food more than I ever did when I was heavily overweight and was making better choices and having fun concocting fun, healthy, and delicious dishes. Over the course of these past six years, I have maintained most of the weight loss, but I long to get back to my lowest. I slipped into some old, bad habits, not necessarily with eating, which I’m okay with, or exercising, which I do six days a week, but with my negativity.

No more.

As I rebrand this blog, here’s what I promise. I’m writing, in many different fashions because I miss it and agonizing over stringing the perfect words together is far more satisfying in the long run than researching what I should be doing with nothing to show for it. I am going to be honest about my progress and how I feel. I am going to try to not let negativity devour me, which means forgiving myself my humanity.

With my two passions, writing and healthy living so intersected, I have the opportunity to share my story and learn a lot more about myself and life. Thanks for your patience.

Join me?

life with a cat (and work and stuff)

Hello, party animals! We’re onto the second half of the week and I’m already excited for the weekend because I have some fun times planned with friends. Unfortunately, we’re not quite into the fall weather yet, but I suppose anytime it’s not snowing is a win.

I hope you can all strive to be as comfortable as this dude.

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So far the week has been usual. I went through an excellent arms workout on Monday, targeting the biceps, triceps, and shoulders before doing a core stint and a sweaty half hour ride on the bike. After a client, I headed home and did some chorse-y type things before heading back to work.

Tuesday started much in the same way except I had a client before my workout. This workout was quad and glutes centered, which means a lot of squats and lunges! After, I worked on my core and hopped on the treadmill for a run that left me dripping in sweat- my favorite mark of a great workout. Once I was home, I flitted around starting dinner prep and other things. It was an early night to bed for me because of my early call time on Wednesday mornings!

The second half of the week is actually busiest for me as there’s a lot of running back and forth at the gym. I worked until 9:30, did my cardio, had another client, then finished up my workout with strength training- chest, back, and core! After lunch and some playtime, it was back to work.

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That’s all for now, folks!

daily living

My typical Monday post is a recap of the weekend, but I don’t often post anything regarding the rest of the week except for food and exercise. Now that I’m back to personal training, my day is more chaotic, in a good way.

On Monday, I had one client, so I had a leisurely breakfast in the morning of my favorite pancakes before heading to the gym to train. After, I fit in my own workout. By the time I got back home, it was time for a lunch of leftovers. I’m still getting used to my sporadic routine and I have a hard time enjoying leisure time for myself when it’s in the middle of the day, but I did watch an episode of The West Wing and do some reading, while also spending ample time with Simba, who wanted my full attention.

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Then it was back to the gym to work a shift at the front desk. By the time I got home, I was ready for dinner and bed.

Tuesday was a different day than normal as I had to drive into the city for a training opportunity. We finished after lunch time, so I fit in a quick workout of all the exercises that required equipment before driving home to check in on the kitten, finish up some body weight training, then head out on a run. I spent the rest of the afternoon reading and writing then had a client after dinner. Pretty much by the time I got home, I was ready for bed because Wednesdays are one of my 5am call times!

The hardest part of waking up early for me are the few moments after the alarm went off and now not wanting to leave a cuddly kitten behind, particularly when he’s meowing at me because he wants to be patted.

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Duty calls though, so I grabbed all my stuff I had organized the night before and got to work. After finishing up with my clients, I fit in my own workout of strength training and a session on the elliptical before heading home for lunch! Leftovers are my favorite lunch because it requires minimal preparation, especially when you’re already hungry! I typed up this post, among other little chores around the house, then headed back to work to train.

It can feel hectic sometimes, but I’m happy to be back and doing what I think I was meant to do! Am I sorry most of my pictures lately are of my kitten? No, I am not.

We’re more than halfway through the week!

in the moment

Life can feel a little hectic when coming back from vacation, starting up a new job, and trying to settle into a new routine. My work ethic is being tested by a little guy named Simba who requires a lot of playtime attention that I’m happy to provide, BUT he also doesn’t like me to be on any kind of screen. Attention must always be focused on him, according to him.

I mean…

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He enjoys sitting and walking on my laptop keyboard and one time, I swear it, he typed out the word “purr!” He’ll also hit my hand until I put the phone down and he sits on it, same with my iPad. I guess he’s helping me live in the moment.