Taking “the leap” almost ruined me…

It was 2008 and life as I knew it was about to change drastically.  I knew change was coming, I planned for it, saved for it and was ready for it.  But we never really know how difficult it’s going to be, do we?

Already thoroughly in love with fitness and teaching people what I had learned – that it’s only as hard as you make it and permanent change comes from within. A few hours a week of training consistently and eating healthy food would get the results, peace and happiness that all the starving yourself could not get you.  That was my passion.  I never intended to become a trainer.  Prior to 2004 I had never been seen out of the house without high heels and make up.  I actually distinctly remember one time my sister wanted to go shopping and I refused to go because I had forgotten my make up bag at our parents house and I was anxiously waiting for it.

But by 2008 I was working out regularly, eating healthy and had gotten amazing results.  I was in love with the gym, my life, my future husband.  Life was truly awesome!  I was making piles of money, travelling and planning for the future..  I did my training certification because I wanted more knowledge for myself.  I signed up to volunteer at my gym (Atii Fitness in Iqaluit, Nunavut) and began showing people how to workout properly as part of my duties there.

It was love at first lift.

I loved talking to people about the real concept behind weight loss, inspiring and motivating them.  I quickly became a staple in the gym.  And people wanted me to coach them.  And I wanted to coach them.  And so TW Fitness was born.  Just a little side job because I loved it.  I could go to the gym and get lost there.  It’s the kind of mad passionate love that everyone talks about but I had it for the gym.

We embarked on a “new” life – a move back to Newfoundland after living in Canada’s transient Arctic town of Iqaluit for 5 years,  a custom built home that took 2 years to plan, an upcoming wedding, new careers, moving home to be close to family.  We were excited, like people who have no idea what’s coming were excited!

The move “home” proved to be anything less than exciting – my husbands “step” father (loosely said because they never officially married) but he was a staple in my husband’s life for nearly 20 years, one of his biggest supporters, who loved both of us madly and unconditionally – died.  Suddenly and unexpectedly.  The move was pushed up and I packed everything we owned and was on a plane in less than 24 hours.  Just the week before I said “I have this really intense feeling that something really bad is about to happen”.  I don’t know how I knew something was coming… I’m not one to focus on the negative.  Our exciting move was devastatingly changed, forever.  I still look back on that time 7 years later with some level of sadness because quite simply, he was the one who most excited about our new home.  He often called and said “I hope you know how lucky you are to have found that kind of love at such a young age.  I’m so proud of the both of you and I can’t wait until your home is finished and you’re living closer”.  And he never got to see it.  He sent us pictures of the ground break, of the foundation, but he never saw the finished product.  And so began a new journey for us and it was marked by stress.

I opened TW Fitness in Newfoundland.  I had a full time day job as well.  An impending wedding and a house in the making.  Stress and anxiety became my close friends.  I was living mostly out of my car, trying not to be a burden on anyone but with no real place to call home.  We were in turmoil.  But we knew things would settle when my husband could get work, when the house was finished, when the wedding planning was finished… when… when…when

Our life was frought with “when’s” – when this happens, when that happens… I’ve learned a lot of lessons in life and the most important one is that “when” is a figment of our imaginations.  “When” is a time that never transpires.  If we want change we have to do it in the midst of the chaos.  Because there will always be chaos.  “When” 8 months later my husband still wasn’t working, a wedding in a few months and our bank account running on low, life was getting more stressful by the day.  I was pulling a full time job and running my business at what was now “full time hours” to keep us afloat.  The wedding happened (it was amazing!  and we just celebrated 6 years on September 4!) but life was far from “easy” and we had moved more than year before.  “When” wasn’t happening.  So my husband took an opportunity to go back to school to finish this journeyman’s cert.  And I was alone, dog, house, business and career to manage.  I was at my breaking point.  I wasn’t happy.  I was angry, actually.  I was trying to keep it together but I was unravelling.

A trip to my doctor to talk about it all led to me walking away with a prescription for anti depressants.  I filled them.  And I talked with my husband about it all.  He didn’t think I was depressed.  He thought I hated my job.  And he didn’t think I should take antidepressants to “get by”.  But I didn’t know what else to do.  We couldn’t survive without my day job income.  I don’t know if I have ever loved him more than in the moment when he said “It’s not worth it.  Work is coming and we’ll be ok.  Quit and do your fitness thing full time, see if it works”.    His support gave me the go ahead to focus my attention and energy on my passion.  And in that moment I knew we would be ok, no matter what was laid in front of us.  But sometimes we forget those “little” details like everything is always going to be ok.

So I took a leap of faith.

And we lived happily ever right?

Not even fucking close.

I was told I was crazy to give up my full time permanent job with pay and benefits.  I was told all of the reasons why I couldn’t it, why it wouldn’t work.  But no one could understand the feeling of dying inside everyday.  I needed to know if I could do it.  And so I leapt.  I had the support of the ONE person that mattered and that was all I needed.

What I didn’t realize was how little I knew about business.  And how our subconscious mind works.  And everyone’s doubt in me was turned into fuel to drive me.  My passion quickly turned into around the clock work, coaching and training clients, advertising, accounting, business “stuff” and I was one person.  I managed to “stay afloat” for a few years, changing directions here and there as I uncovered what I enjoyed doing, but oftentimes found myself doing what people wanted and not what I knew was my method for success.  After 2.5 years at a pace of 5 days off a year – literally working 7 days a week 356 days a year I began to miss my life.  All of those reasons for moving home and I never saw my friends or family, ever.  I barely saw the man I was married to.  So I decided to “expand” – take on staff and grow the business so I could have more free time, so I could have a personal life again.  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  That was the silliest idea I’ve ever had, like ever.  Like ever ever ever.  You don’t grow a business for free time.  That will tell you how far gone I was!

I spent another year in an epic disaster of my own making… staff, lease, loans, working 20 hour days… stress was once again my best and closest friend.  But thankfully I had the foresight to realize I was in over my head and friends who were willing to shake me awake.  I had already begun mindset coaching and uncovering who I am, why I do the things I do and seeing my life as it really was, not the way I was pretending it was.  And I still thought there was a way to make it work.  I refused to give up.

I met with CBDC (business development centre) and applied for funding.  At their meeting when it was my turn to answer their questions I have never felt so stupid or small.  Not because they made me feel that way, but because I couldn’t answer one single question they asked me.  And it hit me, I have no idea what’s really going on in my business.  None.  That began a wild goose chase of figuring it all out.  And it was worse than I could have ever imagined.  My books and records were a mess, despite contracting it out.  Clean up time.  And then a hefty bill came that I hadn’t planned for and wasn’t expecting.  But I had no one to blame and I took full responsibility.  My name was on the business and I had chosen to ignore what was going on.  I could have played the “blame” card easily.  But I didn’t. I knew that unless I took responsibility I could never clean it up. I have been forever grateful for CBDC for that day because it was a defining moment in time for me and my business.  I eventually did get funding from them and continue to have a great relationship with CBDC and I’ve told them several times how that day changed everything – sometimes we need to face the shit of it all so we can move forward.  Had I not had that experience with them I’m not sure I would have discovered how bad things were in time to turn them around.

But at that time, I so desperately wanted to quit.  I wanted to bury my head in the sand.  I wanted to have not been an epic failure.  I wanted it to all go away.  But that wasn’t happening.  I wasn’t healthy.  I was battling disordered eating, I was battling health problems from all of the stress of almost 5 years of driving myself to exhaustion… for what?  Who was I proving anything to? I was unhappy.  I wasn’t healthy anymore.  I have written and spoken openly about my battle with eating disorders and body image and how the gym helped me change all of that (read it here: http://twfitness.ca/the-gym-saved-my-life/) but now I was unhealthy again, in body and mind.  My passion was no longer “helping people”, it was surviving.   I was running my business at a cost of my private life.  I didn’t know my husband anymore.  I never saw my family and when I did I wasn’t a joy to be around.  I was a mess.  I couldn’t keep going this way.  More importantly, I didn’t want to keep going that way.  Don’t get me wrong, when I was in the gym with clients or working on client stuff I was still on bust.  I still loved that part exponentially, there’s no better feeling for me than helping people achieve their goals.  

As I had been doing mindset work and uncovering the “why’s” I had come to understand WHY I was driving myself so hard… why I needed to be successful… why I didn’t need anyone’s help… why I kept digging my holes deeper and thinking I was digging my way out, I began to understand what was really important in my life… friends, family.  Yes I loved what I did, but it wasn’t all of what and who I was/am.  I wasn’t prepared for the constant public criticism of my weight, my looks, my programs.  I wasn’t prepared for the “fight” with people to pay me for services rendered.  I wasn’t prepared for the people who stiffed me, the people who felt the need to put me down, the people who gossiped and talked about me, the people who had never met me, yet judged me ( there’s always someone willing to tell you what people are saying about you!).  I took all of those things and added them to the comments of the people who told me I was crazy to leave my full time job.  I made it mean a lot about me.  I eventually began to believe them.  Maybe they were right… why did I think I could do this? At my core, in my subconscious my belief in myself was shattered.  All of the negative comments, all of the doubt, all of the disbelief – I made it mean I wasn’t good enough.  And by hanging on I was trying to prove it wrong, I was trying desperately not to fail because so many told me I would, but because we get what we focus on (or in the words of my business coach – we get what we are) my belief that I could succeed was so low that I was continually failing because that’s all I was focusing on.

But in my heart I knew that wasn’t the truth.  In my heart I knew that I knew what I was doing.  In my heart I knew that I am good at what I do. In my heart I knew that those lashing out at me was a reflection of where they were in their lives, not where I was.  I allowed it to be where I was by taking their comments and making them my truth.  But I also knew that I could no longer do a great job where I was. I knew I needed to slow down and re-focus my message for those who were ready to hear it.  I knew I could turn things around if I wanted to.  But I no longer wanted to.

So I quit.  

I was exhausted.  I wanted my life back.  I wanted to go on a date with my husband and not check my phone.  I wanted to travel again and not spend 1/2 the day in my hotel room on my laptop putting out fires.  I wanted to be able to put my phone down for a few hours.  I missed me.  I missed the girl who knew how to have fun.  I missed the girl who focused on the positive in life.  I missed my life… the one that was being lived without me in it.

I quit.  I sold what I could.  I turned over the lease to a new company who could come in and make it what I couldn’t.  And they’ve done an amazing job!

So I took another leap of faith.  I didn’t know what I would do exactly.  I wanted to focus on my health.  I wanted to focus on cleaning up my business.  And starting over.  I gave serious consideration to giving up entirely.  I still had that belief inside me  “maybe they’re right” maybe I wasn’t good enough.  Maybe I should just get a job and forget about it.  Focus on myself and my life.  My business coach helped me to understand if quitting was the right option.  And the one simple question: What would you do if you didn’t do this?  Nothing.

I am born to do this.  I was born to change the world.  I was born to change people’s perceptions of weight, the scale, diets, self hate, not being good enough.  I got mixed up.  I got in over my head.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know going into business.  I had developed bad patterns and habits of working around the clock because of my subconscious fear of failing.  I stepped over my integrity and my self worth constantly.  And I became a workaholic who was getting nowhere fast.

But I came very close to quitting fitness entirely.  I brushed off my resume.  I applied for jobs.  I took interviews.  I was serious.  Just get a job, you’ll feel ok once you’ve done it.  Who cares what people think of you going back to work for someone else.  You tried your best.  I told myself all of those things, thinking it was my fear of failure (and other people’s perception of my failure) that kept me holding on.  I was offered a job.  And in a blinding moment of clarity I was shaken awake once again to my purpose.  And I knew taking that job wasn’t going to be the answer.  I knew that if I took it I was delaying the inevitable.  I knew if I accepted it I was just going to quit and come back to my business.

Re-inspired with knowing that I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else, I set out to learn business.  I set out to heal myself.  I set out on a new path, again.  I let faith and intuition guide me.  I set a schedule for myself… I selected days and times when I would coach people.  And days and times when I would do business stuff.  And I took time off.  And then I fucked it all up and went back on my word and worked too much, again.  But with coaching and guidance I would continually bring it back to the bigger picture.  “How could I still do what I love and have a life”.  And I stepped into my life… showing up for my friends, family and husband in a way I hadn’t in years.  That question has continued to guide me in the last 1 & 3/4 years as I set my path on fire.

What’s my purpose?  To help people overcome their struggle with weight by accepting and taking responsibility for how they got where they are and teaching them a system I have created to stop dieting and start living (cheesy I know, but it works!).  That’s my passion, to help people understand how their actions have led to where they are and how they can change that with a change in mindset about what eating healthy and exercise means.   There’s a formula and I discovered it along my path to health and wellness when I got started.  And I had to re-learn it when I quit my business the way it was running.

It was then that I realized every single thing I had been through had set me up to fully grasp what my purpose was and that I was sitting on a method that could and would change the way people approach weight loss, forever.  I was sitting on a method that I had created for myself that had the potential to change so many lives for the better.  But I didn’t even realize it until I had to go back to it myself.  It reconnected me with my purpose of helping people overcome their battle with weight and it reconnected me with myself.

Taking the leap blindly into business almost killed me. It almost destroyed my life.  But I’m thankful that somewhere up there someone is guiding me and helping me along the path of being in mad love with what I do and in mad love with life.  I was brought full circle back to how I got fit and healthy.  I was brought full circle but with a new awareness, new insights into human nature, new insights into the subconscious so that I am now better equipped to help people get out of their spin and focus on the important things in life and without health, what is there really?

Do I regret anything?  No.  How could I?  It’s delivered me squarely back to my soul purpose and given me an even better outlook on life because of it.  The “when’s” in life never happen.  All we have is now.  We think “when” this happens I’ll focus on my health.  “When” that happens I’ll have more time.  “When” he/she/it/they… “when” is a figment of our imagination that hold us back from living our best life now because it keeps us comfortable, it keeps us stuck and not having to work on change “because it’s not good timing”.  There is no good time to get fit.  There is no good time to start a business.  There is no good time to quit a business.  There is no good time to change careers.  There is no good time to do anything.  The good time is now, because it’s all we’re guaranteed.  We’re not promised anything beyond this moment.  And if you knew that tomorrow was your last day would you have done things differently?  Would you have taken more time off to spend with friends and family?  Would you have taken better care of your health?  The problem is we think we have time…

All of my struggles have made me who I am.  And I am a better version of myself because of the few people who stood in my corner, who stood silently behind me or loudly in front of me and supported me.  It’s because they saw my passion even when I thought it had died.  They saw something positive in me when I could only see the negative. It’s because of them that I sit here today with the behind the scenes of my business cleaned up and straightened out, with my health and mindset in a great place and truly ready to stand tall and speak my message loudly.  I had to go through all of the disbelievers, all of the negativity, all of the mess that I created so I could be ready for this next step without being distracted by anything else, because  when you speak against anything that is as firmly engrained in what we do and believe in as a society as the diet industry you have to be ready for the backlash.  And I am.

I will no longer sit idly by as the world tells men and women that they’re not good enough because they aren’t a certain size.  I will not stand idly by as we continue to pass false images of health along to future generations.  I will speak my truth to end the stigma of obesity… people who are obese do not deserve less respect, love or acceptance. They need more of it.  They need to see the positive, what’s possible and have someone believe in them to help them overcome it.  People who have anorexia don’t need to be told to eat a burger.  They need love and acceptance, they need to be taught that there is something else, something inside of them, that can help them overcome it.  I am here to help people find that inner desire that’s hiding inside them.

Quitting sometimes is the best thing we can do when it’s no longer working.  I quit what wasn’t working but my refusal to quit my message, in a world where so many quit for minuscule reasons, has built a level of resilience that I didn’t know I could possess.  It’s given me an inner strength, self awareness and a determination that wasn’t there before.  Would I take the leap again?  Absolutely.  My only wish is that I had known to hire a business coach in the beginning.  That would be the only thing I would have changed, but I also know that had I not gone through what I went through, I wouldn’t be ready for the next leap.

I almost walked away.  No one can ever know how close I came to closing and walking away,  believing the naysayers, believing the doubters and losing belief in myself.  But I reached deep and I found the ONE reason to keep going and ignored all the reasons to quit.  But now, I come to the ring more prepared, more resilient, more dedicated and more passionate than ever about ending dieting, ending self hate, and continuing on my path of helping people get healthy and fit in a way that serves and adds to their lives, not that takes away from it.  If you’re sitting on the verge of a decision but can’t make the leap, do it.  Just don’t lose sight of the bigger picture!

Tonya

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Comments

  1. Francine

    Wow such an awesome story you are an inspiration to all i love reading your blogs! You are one strong women!

    1. Tina, so glad you “see” something in there for yourself. I think we all get caught up and don’t even know where it comes from – just that we’re frantically unhappy and trying to survive but don’t know how to get out of it sometimes!

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