My plate was full. From wedding planning, to bridal showers, pre-marriage counseling, teaching, and practice for the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders Training Program, things were insane. The stress of it all was getting to me.
Wedding planning was overwhelming. If I wasn’t working on wedding plans, I felt the guilt of not doing enough. I’m not the typical girl whose had her whole wedding planned since she was a teenager, but my vision for what I wanted things to look like was coming to life. I chose to have the bridesmaids wear black dresses and all the flowers would be red. I wanted Steve to pick out his own suit and coordinate with his groomsmen and ushers for their suits as well. I didn’t want to be responsible for everything, so I gave him little tasks to complete. It’s all part of the strategy–divide and conquer.
Tuesday evenings I had practice for the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleader Training Program and it was intense. In the beginning of the season we had the option to weigh in before practice. We made the one time choice of choosing to weigh in and if you did, you’d be required to do so every practice. Some people might think that’s a little crazy and perhaps a bit too personal, but when your goal is to be part of an elite organization there’s always a higher standard. I never wanted to just be “good” I wanted to be excellent.
Knowing that I chose to weigh in, I did feel pressure to make healthy choices during the week and make improvements in my fitness. It was challenge for me to balance the stress of wedding planning, my workouts, and keeping up with the demands of the training program. We had one practice to learn the choreography and then we were expected to perform it well the next week. The pressure was on!
Tuesday nights at practice we kicked things off with our warm-up, running the block, which is the equivalent of a 5K. I loved the workout days because fitness was in my wheelhouse. I reveled in anything fitness related and have always been energized by a physical challenge. I love pushing myself and seeing what I’m capable of– you know, the “Eye of the Tiger” mentality.
Today was a special day because my Training Program team and I got the opportunity to perform at the Minnesota Vikings pre-game show. We had prepared for this day for weeks and had consolidated practice time with the Vikings Cheerleaders, which was inspiring. The pool of talent of the MVC was breathtaking.
We walked out on the field and in that moment, I got a small taste of what it would be like to be a Minnesota Vikings Cheerleader. I soaked in everything, taking in the panoramic view of the Metrodome. As we stood on the sideline I watched as the players warmed up. It was amazing to witness these professional athletes in their element. Their pre-game prep, their routines, the camaraderie they share and all the other facets of what goes into their game.
I’m an athlete and I have a heightened sense of awareness at sporting events. I don’t just attend games or competitions to simply watch the game, I love taking in the finer details. I have a heightened sense of appreciation for the craft. My mind began thinking about the lives of these athletes and how much dedication and sacrifice they’ve put in to be the best.
I love being around talented people—but not just the kind of people that are skilled, but the kind of people that naturally bring out the best in you simply by being in their presence. The kind of people that motivate you to go beyond being comfortable and they convince you to take a chance and tap into your God-given potential. I love those kinds of people. These same people can influence others without saying a word, which is truly a gift–and yes, I want to be the person I just described.
As I stood on the sideline, I couldn’t help but reflect on my life. I was in awe as my mind flipped through the pages of my past. The people I’ve met through the years and the roles they played in me becoming the person I had become.
Then I thought about all the choices I’d made prior to auditioning. From the initial idea to audition for the chance of becoming an MVC and then actually following through with it. So many things had to come together in order for me to experience this moment on the field.
WOW, I thought, I’m blessed!
There wasn’t just a smile on my face, but my heart was smiling too.
I was overwhelmed by God’s goodness in my life that day. His faithfulness and constant care as He’s seen me though every crazy endeavor I’d ever attempted. He cares about every single detail of my life and yours, and He’s the Creator of it all.
I’m thankful for the faith I have and the perspective it’s given me in the good and challenging times. I know that for some people finding the joy in life can be a struggle, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I struggle too.
I have moments when I don’t feel like writing because the words won’t come or I feel like what I just wrote won’t encourage anyone. There are days when I just plain old don’t feel like writing. At times I would rather read, go outside or do ANYTHING but write.
I also have moments when I have to give myself a pep-talk before I speak in front of people or to convince myself go to the gym. It’s quite silly actually, given my background and my passions that I would ever struggle in these areas.
It’s in these moments that I’m reminded that every good thing comes from God. It’s only by His provision that I am able to do anything.
The same is true for you. Regardless of where you stand or how good life is right now, we all face battles. When things aren’t going so well we can fall into the trap of tunnel vision with our sight set on the bad. Other days we wake up feeling like a complete rock-star ready to tackle the day.
My challenge to you is to have tunnel vision for the good. Find the golden nugget in your situation. Choose to focus on the things you are grateful for in every situation and thank God for it. Praise Him for it AND tell others about it! When grateful words roll off your tongue, your focus will start to change and you can’t help but feel joy in your heart.
What you’re going through is refining you for God’s greater purpose. His Word says:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Things may not necessarily be “good” right now, but hold on to your love for God and His love for you and know that He’s working things out for your good.
We had an exhilarating performance that day, but that day pales in comparison to what was to come…
Having a sense of adventure and trying new things has always been part of who I am. Wait long enough you’ll see me try something new and crazy! There is something thrilling about putting myself out there that energizes me. Now this doesn’t mean this tenacious spirit hasn’t struggled with self-doubt or uncertainty, but my internal dialogue always tells me to keep going and that I can do anything.
This whole “energizing thing” when trying something new feels different when I’m the one who is choosing what that new challenge will be, versus when I’m told I’m going to do something, which leads me to the life of dating Steve Toms, the personal trainer extraordinaire.
All throughout my relationship with Steve I was exposed to the inside world of personal trainers. As the personal training department head, it was his job to push the trainers to be successful, which included practicing what he was preaching.
Steve was a great leader. He was the type of boss who truly cared about his team of personal trainers and what was going on in their lives. When we’d spend time together he’d tell me about different trainers and what their life stories were, and there were some fascinating ones! His relationships with people were never about what they could do for him; it was about helping others be their best. Steve didn’t have to put on an act or be crafty in his relationships because there was something about him that naturally pulled the best out of them and everyone he was around.
The same was true for me. His presence drew out a laser focus in my training and I valued training hard and performing my exercises with excellence. Of course this didn’t mean he didn’t say anything, because he was a chatty smart alec that knew just what buttons to push to get you to do what he wanted you to do. Sometimes his brutal honesty was off-putting, but he was oddly loved for it.
As I mentioned before, Steve had a way of getting people to do what he wanted them to do when it came to physical activity.
My routine during training for figure was to get up at 4:45, get to the gym by 5:00 for my first round of cardio training. Then I’d go to school, teach physical education all day and be to the gym by 4:00 for my second training session with Steve.
There were several times I’d get a text during the day from Steve saying: We are running a 5k when you get here.
I read that text and thought, CRAP! I don’t want to run a 5k. I just want to lift. Can’t a girl just lift!
Upon reading that text, I’d grumble to myself. This girl was not in the mood to run a 5k. This happened several times. Steve wanted to show support by taking part in the Run Club races that happened once a month.
The surprise physical activity ventures didn’t stop there.
The next physical conquest we would be part of would be the Life Time Fitness Alpha Showdown.
Thankfully we were able to train for this event in advance because it was by far the most physically demanding of all the physical things I’ve ever been a part of.
The Alpha Showdown took place at the Chanhassen club that year, and there were competitors from all the Minnesota Life Time Fitness clubs.
The Alpha Showdown was broken down into three different segments of exercises in which competitors would demonstrate their athleticism and strength while pushing the boundaries of what it means to be mortal (Life Time’s words, not mine).
As Alpha Showdown participants we would compete in a series of events including the Power Gauntlet, the Hypertrophy Decathlon featuring 10 different stations, 250 meters of rowing, and finally, an obstacle course for the Endurance Gauntlet. All events will be timed and participants will be disqualified for not meeting required time restrictions for each segment.
Since Steve was doing this event, that automatically meant I had to do it too. He also managed to coax my sister into competing as well. As we arrived we signed in and were assigned a start time. Thankfully I was able to watch other competitors go before me so I could learn from their successes and failures.
My goal was to simply finish within the time restrictions. I wasn’t sure how my body was going to respond to the real deal.
It was my turn to go. I stood at the starting line, my competitive switch immediately activated, you know, that little bit of sass inside that automatically causes you to size other people up. I started the same time as a guy. That alone motivated me. I was going to crush him in this, (that’s my inner voice talking).
Both the men and women completed the same exercises, at different weights. It’s hard not to charge out of the gate when it’s a timed event. This is a problem for people of all ages. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve given a speech about pacing yourself for the mile run to my elementary students. Most of them can’t help but ignore my advice and take off like they’re on fire. It’s only a matter of seconds before they’re walking their laps.
So I tried to hustle and pace myself at the same time because my goal was to finish. I wasn’t going to go through all of that for nothing!
Thankfully I finished. Every limb was begging for me to stop. My heart was beating out of my chest, my lungs were burning and I couldn’t suck in air fast enough. All that lunging, pushing, squalling, thrusting, rowing, army crawling, running was enough physical activity for a month. My sister finished and Steve tuckered out during the squat press portion of the Hypertrophy Decathlon.
I’m thankful that Steve challenged me to compete in the Alpha Showdown. There’s nothing quite like that feeling of accomplishment and a job well done.
What I ask myself is, why does is it easier to have someone else to push me well beyond my box to truly test my limits? It’s as if I need someone else’s permission to allow myself to jump.
Of course this doesn’t happen all the time, but some times I just need someone to give me a shove and confirm that I can accomplish what I’ve set out to do in order to get back on the horse.
Sure I’m full of great ideas and big dreams, but that’s all they are if I don’t do anything with them.
The Alpha Showdown was physical in nature, but there are other showdowns in our lives that will occur one way or another. It’s usually because of time and we have to “face the music” or we finally get the courage to go for it!
When we fail to address the things that are in our way, we waste time. Wasted time equates to wasted opportunities because we allow ourselves to be hung up.
To be honest, I’ve been hung up myself lately. In my mind I know what I need to do, and there are things on my to-do list that have been staring at me for over a month. I should be blogging more consistently, I should have more speaking events, and I should be further in the writing of my book than I am. With that, I know to sift through the voice that reminds me of the things I “should” have accomplished, because if I’m not on-guard, the lies of the enemy get sprinkled in and before I know it, I’m set back even further.
This post isn’t simply about physical conquest to test my mortal abilities, but it’s about the showdowns we face in life.
I’ve allowed the fear of all the things I don’t know beat me in the showdown. I have moments when I’m totally overwhelmed by what I know I need to do, so instead, I do nothing. But you see, these dreams aren’t just about me. I know for certain that God would love to use me as an instrument if I would be obedient. As my pastor said one Sunday in church, “Partial obedience is still disobedience.” Doing things halfway is not okay.
Now I’m not one to wallow in a mistake or setback because I simply refuse to let Satan have a field day in my mind. Instead, I will rise to the occasion because that’s what champions do.
Just like me, you, my friend, are called to win!
This love letter is taken from one of my favorite books of encouragement titled “Love Letters from God—Affirmations for Your Soul By: Bonnie G. Schluter. My parents mailed this to me when I was going to college in Hawai`i.
I love this love letter for so many reasons, especially the last paragraph: “Does a winner go it alone in his fight to win? No, he get the best trainer he can find, and he trusts those professionals to help. The trainer maps out a training program. He sets the course, then the athlete follows that course. My child, you do the same.” Lovingly, God
I truly had the best earthly trainer in Steve and I have the ultimate life trainer– God setting my course. Trust in God as your life trainer and follow HIS course.
Step up to the starting line and stare down the roadblock in front of you. It’s time for you to finally have a showdown… YOU WERE BORN TO WIN!
One thing about me that you may have noticed is that I like trying new things, which is part of the reason you’re reading this post. I’ve never designed my own blog much less shared my personal feelings on one. My love for trying new things started a long time ago and has continued to play out in my adult life.
When I met Steve he was a trainer for the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders. So you can guess what I wanted to try… Yes, I was going to audition to be a Minnesota Vikings Cheerleader or MVC, as they’re known in the professional cheer world.
I have a dance background, but it’s nothing like what young girls and boys have today. Being that I was raised in a small town, dance looked different. We practiced once a week and I enjoyed it, as it was a fun recreational activity. We never had competitions, which compared to today’s standards is insane. We practiced our choreography and learned different steps all year so we could perform at the spring recital.
I have no doubt that being involved in extracurricular activities has helped me to understand the value of teamwork, dedication, how to encourage others and try my best.
My siblings and I like to dance, in fact my sister and I still dance together on occasion in my basement. As every dancer knows, once you have choreography ingrained in your head, it comes back to you at the drop of a beat. I still do choreography in my head while I’m driving or listening to music!
Auditioning to be an MVC with my experience would seem crazy to most, but it was exhilarating to me. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been to a Vikings game, but these women are legit. Their talent is incredible. Not only are these women stunningly beautiful and incredible dancers, they’re the amazing off the field. Some are students, others career women and some are moms. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that? I figure if you never try, you’ll never know what might have been.
With wanting to be part of this foreign world, I had to address my obstacles. My biggest challenge was that I lacked technique and flexibility. My sister would make fun of me for my rigidity and I had nothing to say because she was right.
So there I was charting unfamiliar territory. I sought out the help and advice from those who have gone before me. Thankfully Steve was very connected and he reached out to two former MVC so I wouldn’t have to go into this blindly. Not only did I share my pursuit of becoming an MVC with my friends and family, I talked about it with my students. If you remember I was teaching elementary physical education. I solicited the help of my students who were dancers. They’re incredibly talented and I needed their expertise. They took much delight in teaching me how to do double turns.
I auditioned for Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders for my first time in April of 2011. I didn’t end up making the team, but I was selected to be part of the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders Training Program. The Training Program (TP) is its own separate team that practices one day a week at Winter Park and is coached by former MVC. The goal is to learn all things MVC in preparation for auditions the following spring so you can make the MVC.
I happily accepted my invitation to be part of this team. I was so excited to learn and be on a team again. Having played sports all my life and in college, I really missed the camaraderie of a team, dancing, and having a goal to work towards.
I committed to this new challenge and Steve was on board. He always was. He believed in me and encouraged me in whatever crazy things I wanted to attempt. He was so proud of me, as I was of him. He was right beside me helping me improve with his encouragement and sass.
I am so thankful to have had the blessing of being part of the 2011-2012 Training Program Team. Through the Training Program I met a lot of incredible driven women that I learned so much from. I also had the opportunity to be coached by two amazing women, Erin and Beth who have been coaching the TP since 2006.
What about you? What are your goals and dreams? Now I’m not talking about the kind you talk about all the time. I’m talking about the kind that you think about but haven’t dared to let them cross your lips. The kind that causes you to experience incredible joy just thinking about it, all while producing a level of panic that makes you uncomfortable.
You have a special calling on your life that no one else can fill. Plow through those doubts, take a look in the mirror and believe in yourself. I believe in you.
Don’t permit perceived obstacles to put your dreams on a shelf. You may be one bold decision away from finding your greatness.
My challenge to you is to re-visit those dreams. The dreams you once had that you set down because you were busy, scared and unsure about, pick them back up. Pray about them and ask God for a fresh perspective on them. Be open, willing and obedient and He will blow your mind.
One book that has helped me to grow and discover my purpose is the book “You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream” by Holly Gerth. I highly recommend this book if you’re wondering about your own dreams and how to navigate them.