A year ago

One of the things I always find myself doing over the holidays is thinking about where I was the year before, because it’s always different.

4 years ago, it was our first Christmas in Valdosta, where I ended up meeting some of my closest friends.


It was my first year of squadron holiday parties,

decorating our condo together

house (3)

(I always loved that kitchen)

and I was working as a department store manager. While fitness was a huge part of my life, I hadn’t even considered teaching or becoming a personal trainer.

3 years ago, the Pilot was deployed for Christmas, so I came home to celebrate with the family.


That’s a perfect snippet of my mom’s house on Christmas morning (minus my bros, who were probably playing video games and my Tata, who was probably sitting on the other recliner). Everyone has mugs in hand, present chaos occurs, and bows end up in random places (like on my head and my stepdad’s shirt).

Running was what helped me deal with the loneliness of the deployment, and that was the year I enjoyed races and training the most.

2 years ago, we were in Gatlinburg with the Pilot’s family


and it’s funny because I wasn’t originally stoked about going. Something about being in a cabin in the wilderness freaked me out –I’ve seen Red Dragon too many times- and ever since then, I’ve been begging the Pilot to take me back.


(probably still won’t ride the Sky Tour, though)

and last year, I was here in Tucson and had just driven across the country with the madre- the Pilot was deployed for his third time.


At exactly this day, last year, I had macaroons in the dehydrator, just like I do right now 😉

I had no idea we’d be living in Tucson for this holiday season, let alone in our first house with a little one on the way. Last year, I was working at lululemon, starting to teach Dance Trance –which I miss terribly but there was no way I could teach at the resort on top of all of the Dance Trance classes. That’s about 24 classes a week- and a little bit of a mess.

It was a rough deployment for me, and moving here when I had no idea if we’d end up living here, all of our belongings still in storage, was a gamble that I was glad I ended up making <3

What were you doing this time last year? Were you out-of-town? Living the same place you are now?

I’m off to take Bell to the groomer, and then running errands before Zumba.

Have a wonderful day! <3



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  1. Alicia on December 22, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    What a great post! I was pretty much doing the same thing last year as I am this year but Christmas Eve is at my mom’s house this year instead of my aunts so yay! Have a great day!

  2. Sana on December 22, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    AW 🙂 I hope you and your little family enjoy this xmas!!

  3. Whitney on December 22, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Makes my heart warm friend. Can’t wait to see next year’s recap with the little nugget in hand.

  4. Army Amy* on December 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Christmas last year I was living the same place I am now, but my husband was with me. This year he’s deployed. I keep thinking about next year. Next year will be living somewhere new, he won’t be deployed, and we’ll be together!*

  5. Ali on December 22, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    That was a great post! It’s amazing the twists and turns of life, and what a journey it is when you look back. Merry Christmas to you, the pilot and your little one!

  6. Amanda Jo on December 22, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    My heart drops everytime you mention the pilot being deployed. My pilot (Navy) has been deployed 3 times as well, and will probably deploy once more before retirement.

    We are at the same duty station as we were last year, and we’ll have one more Christmas here before we head out on our next adventure! I’m hoping San Diego or Washington state!

  7. Lena @Fit on the Rocks on December 22, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    It’s crazy how so much can change in such a short amount of time. 2 of my last 3 years were in undergrad, so it wasn’t all that exciting, but we’ll see how all that changes in the years to come 🙂 I’m glad the Pilot is home with you for Christmas and the birth of your little one!

  8. Amy Ramos on December 22, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    This time last year, I was enjoying the start of my 10 day vacation in our small (and thin walled) apartment. I was wondering if a)we were going to be in a house by next Christmas where I could get a real tree, decorate and hang our stockings and b)if we would have a little one in our arms or on our way.
    Well, I got one-we have our own house and we do have a real tree and I was able to decorate and our stockings.
    I hope by next year we will have one on the way or a little one in our arms.
    Happy Holidays!
    I can not wait to see pics of your LO!!

  9. Sylvia on December 22, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Last year was our first Christmas with our Baby Boy, he was 3 months old then…we didn’t go anywhere, we decided to stay at home…(London,UK) *our families are far away.. (my husband’s family is in South Africa/Australia and mine in Venezuela/Italy) This year we are going to have dinner on Christmas Eve at my friends house (My son’s Godmother) and dinner will be Venezuelan Style :)))) for a change …so looking forward to it….
    I can’t wait to see pics of your Bebe 🙂 been reading your Pregnancy journey and looking at your pics, it reminds me of my pregnancy 🙂 My Bebe decided to come a week early of his due date and my labour last 24hours to end up with c-section 🙁 …. Now He is 15 months months 🙂 and he is the sweetest boy and also a bit naughty :p but I love him to pieces
    Anyway hope you have a Feliz Navidad and Happy New Year 2012 , take care


  10. Beth on December 22, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    So fun to see your recap and I’m so happy that you’re in such a great place now, with so much on the way. I remember wondering last year if we’d have a little one on the way – and here we are and we do! And we’re moving this week and next (never a dull moment). So although we won’t decorate or have a tree or be with extended family this year, we have a lot to be grateful for and so much to be excited about.

    Best wishes to you and your little family!

  11. Amanda on December 22, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    I think the reason so many people enjoy following your blog and your life is that you handle changes with such grace. You are an inspiration and I can’t wait to see where lift takes your cute family!

    • Amanda on December 22, 2011 at 1:03 pm

      I mean one of the many reasons!

  12. Sarah Anne @fear-no-food.net on December 22, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    This time last year, my fiance and I were separated (He was in Canada, and I was back home in Maine with my family) and he got very, very ill (decreased liver and kidney function even…scary!). We were supposed to be planning our New Years Eve wedding in Maine and he was flying to spend 3 weeks with me and my family, but he was so ill they would not let him on the plane. Our wedding was subsequently canceled, and there was a massive snowstorm on that day and I wouldn’t have been able to get to the airport anyway! I was so happy to be back with my family after several years away, but very sad to be apart from my sick loved one.

    He recovered 6 weeks later, and we were married in late March, back in Vancouver. 😀 Have the HAPPIEST of holidays with ALL of your family, old and NEW! 😀

  13. Tina @ Best Body Fitness on December 22, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    I was in your shoes a year ago – pregnant and ready for the baby to pop! Haha! Crazy how it was just a year ago. Seems forever ago. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas, Gina!

  14. kaila @ healthyhelper on December 22, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Sounds like this year is going to the be the perfect christmas. Surrounded by family, friends, and most importantly the Pilot!

  15. Olivia @ PeanutButterNerd on December 22, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    I’m basically in the same sitch as I was a year ago – awesome boyfriend, pretty decent life at school, same house, etc. More stressed out I think, something to remedy in the new year.

  16. Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie on December 22, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Wow youve been so many different places over the years!! So excited for you to be with your pilot and family this Christmas!! I’m at the same place I was last Christmas, dating the same guy, although a year ago we were just starting our relationship and now we’re a year into it. And I get to spend two weeks with him at his parents for New Years, I’m super exciting! 😀

  17. Heather @ For the Love of Kale on December 22, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    I always love reading about your journey with the Pilot. Your positive attitude is seriously inspiring and never ceases to make me smile, Gina! <3

    Last year, I was visiting family out in Washington state. I had an amazing time. They live out near the mountains and it was unbelievable to wake up to the amazing views every day. There was also an automatic coffee maker. I know, I know. 😉

  18. Allie on December 22, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Today is my birthday, so it’s pretty easy to recall where I was last year! I celebrated with my partner and my best friend and her husband. I hardly ever get to celebrate my birthday with friends since it’s so close to Christmas and trying to schedule anything can be a total pickle, so last year was a real treat.
    This year I am registering for a half marathon so I can put my new running gear to use (I hope my new Garmin will change my life, lol) and then we are going to Seasons 52 for dinner! You used to blog about it all the time, but there wasn’t one around southern California. They recently opened one in Costa Mesa and I was super excited to try it! Any recommendations on what I should order??

  19. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat on December 22, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    I love looking back on these memories too Gina! This time last year, I was gearing up for holidays (just like I am now!) My sister was on her way to visit from England and we were heading to visit my mum at her house 3 hours away from mine. I was in my 3rd year as a part-time fitness instructor and my 3rd month in my full-time tech marketing job. Time has flown so fast! I can’t wait to see mini Fitnessista’s first Christmas!

  20. Jessica on December 22, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Last Christmas I had a big pregnant belly, not knowing if my baby was a boy or girl. Today I cuddle my baby girl 🙂
    I cant imagine deployments. Thank you to your husband for his service!
    Thanks for the look back into your holidays. I would love the woods!

  21. Christine @ BookishlyB on December 22, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    My life is pretty similar except for the fact that we just bought a house three months ago and added a gigantic chocolate lab puppy to the mix this summer. I love looking back too.

  22. Maren on December 22, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    This was so fun to read! I was home with family in Nebraska last year and this year my fiance and I live in Minnesota!! It’s so weird, though, we don’t have any snow up here!!

  23. Bree on December 22, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    What a difference a year makes!

    A year ago, I was unemployed again after some contract work and starting to seriously consider looking into retail or any part time job I could find. H was busy working lots of hours, so I was home alone for most of the day. I would bake and go to the gym, but watching money was priority number one. Christmas just wasn’t as fun.

    Fast forward to now, I am working at a very busy job with long hours, just got a raise this week, and am expecting our little surprises – twin boy and girl due in May! Pretty much a 180 🙂

  24. Katie on December 22, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I was actually in Sedona this time last year with my momma, daddo, brother, and his (now) ex-wife. It was such a fun trip and a nice escape from Ohio weather. Our gift to each other was the trip, so it was nice to spend a lot of quality time together (especially since January would change us forever with a cancer diagnosis). It’s amazing how much a person grows in just 12 months. I’m so excited for you and the Pilot to welcome your new daughter into this world. 🙂

  25. Hillary on December 22, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Not much has changed for me in the last year, hardly anything actually. But these next two years are going to be ones of some big changes, so I’m psyched to dream about what’s in store!

  26. Sara on December 22, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Exactly one year from today I was totally clueless to the fact that when I got home from work my (then) boyfriend would propose to me, at my apartment, in front the Christmas tree. This year we are four months away from our wedding!

  27. Laura on December 22, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Last year my husband was out of the Marines, we were living together (FINALLY!), and we were celebrating in our apt in the city. Now we’re both still trying to find our way, but we have a fully decorated house in the suburbs and 2 furry dog-children to share it with.

  28. Allison on December 22, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    This time last year I was home from college on winter break and enjoying the simplicity of nothingness- today, I’m finishing up my last day teaching and eagerly awaiting the winter break!!!

  29. BeckyB on December 22, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Hi Gina! I’ve been reading your blog for about six months now but this is my first comment. You wrote: “While fitness was a huge part of my life, I hadn’t even considered teaching or becoming a personal trainer.” What made you decide to take the plunge? Right now I sit at a desk all day and I’m miserable, but I’ve danced my whole life and love zumba now and have considered getting certified to teach. Any advice or words of encouragement? Even an entry about how you got into the fitness biz would be wonderful.
    Happy Holidays! And thank you for writing. It really makes my day.

  30. Ali on December 22, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    It can be so fun to look back at how much life can change! Four years ago I was in a REALLY horrible place. Things are night and day different for me four years on, just like they are for you! Can you imagine if you had known what you were about to go through four years ago? With all the deployments and moving and not knowing. Sometimes I think it is best that we cannot tell the future! I am so happy that life is so much better for you now than it was for the last couple of years. I am always in awe of you and all that you have gone through. Amazing.

  31. Laura on December 22, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    I also always seem to look back a year later at Christmas. Last year at this time we were living in a city I really didn’t like and both my husband and I were working at jobs we didn’t like and weren’t treated well. Oh what a difference a year can make 🙂 We are living in a place that I truly love and never want to leave, my husband has his dream job, I’m working at making my small business grow and we have a little one on the way. To say I’m feeling fortunate and blessed is such an understatement. 🙂 Glad we are both in such happy places a year later!

  32. Lou on December 22, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    This time last year I was home in Australia in the sweltering heat surrounded by my fiance and my family, while this year I’m living in Germany with my now husband in the freezing cold with no family! A very big change indeed!! I loved seeing your recap! 🙂

  33. Mellissa on December 22, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Loved this post. Some of the comments had me in tears! A year ago I had just gone through the break up from hell and cried my way through Christmas. What a difference a year makes! I just got engaged, am house shopping and have amazing future in laws who are going out of their way to make me feel included at their Christmas.

  34. Jessica @ Sushi and Sit-Ups on December 22, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    I can’t believe it’s already been one year since last Christmas. I feel like it was just yesterday. Last year Christmas was a whirlwind. It was my first Christmas living with my now fiance in our house. Who knew we’d be engaged this Christmas!

  35. Faith @ For the Health of It on December 22, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Aww my family has been going to Gatlinburg since I was tiny! I’ve always wanted to take a boyfriend up for a weekend and just enjoy the cabin, the hiking, etc…even though it’s not something I’d typically like (I’m definitely more of a city girl). PS, the sky life @ Ober Gatlinburg is a blast. Not scary at all – nice and slow- you have to try it!

  36. Jess on December 22, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Great post. I can’t help playing the “this day a year ago” game during the holidays either. Man, this day last year I was heading out to my parents’ house with my ex to bake cookies for all our extended family members, as was our holiday tradition. Unfortunately, him being a jerk had become a year-round tradition, so all I can say is I’m very happy to be single and in a happier place this year : )

  37. Melissa on December 22, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Posts like this are why I love your blog so much. You seem so down to earth and have such a good perspective about life. It is so refreshing and grounding. Also…total babe in the red dress!!!

    This time last year life was bad. I had 3 big deaths in my life – Nov, Dec, and January. They were all expected deaths (unfortunately they were all really young people) so I did lots of mourning and grieving and had lots of time to anticipate the losses. I wasn’t really in the Christmas spirit to say the least. Though it sure hammered home what is important – being surrounded by those that love and support you and making the most of your life and not taking your health for granted.

    It was really a difficult and trying year for me and I did a really poor job of looking after myself. Fortunately for the past few weeks I have been making much more of an effort on that part and am beginning to feel like myself again.

    And I made big changes over the past year…I moved and cut most of the unhealthy relationships in my life. It’s been a bit overwhelming but I am pumped to see what the future has in store.

    • Fitnessista on December 22, 2011 at 5:35 pm

      i’m sorry to hear that last year was so devastating. three people. 🙁 sending love to you <3
      i'm happy that things have turned around from such a horrible year and that you're feeling better. whenever i have a hard time or year, i remember that life is so cyclical- when you're up, you're up, but when you're down, you're down. but things are always changing and shifting, sometimes for the worse, but often for the better. keep taking good care of yourself!

  38. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga on December 22, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Wow what a trip down memory lane for me to think back of where I was as I look at all of these pics of yours b/c I remember them from their original posts, in all their glory; and it causes me to think back to where I was and what I was doing.

    San Diego to AZ to San Diego. But always in Aruba over Xmas. It’s our family tradition.

    And thinking about life, where we’ve come, how our lives have shaped up and panned out..are any of us living or doing the life we thought we would be when we were little kids? In some ways possibly; but I know my life is soooo different than how I ever could have imagined it…in a good way!

    Thanks for the beautiful post..and thought-provoking. Scott and I will talk about this on our nightly walk here in Aruba after he gets off his conference call.

  39. Liz @ Southern Charm on December 22, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    I’m on my own completely supporting myself. Not much else has changed, except maybe some new friends. But supporting myself is a pretty huge deal for me 🙂

  40. Jessica on December 22, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    My hubby & I were in Disneyland! It was pouring rain the entire time and it was the absolute best. 🙂

    • Fitnessista on December 22, 2011 at 5:32 pm


  41. Marie on December 22, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Love the two pics of you with the Pilot; you are gorgeous!

  42. Beth on December 22, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    I was just thinking about this the other day too – this time last year, I was engaged and sending out save the dates. My fiance (at the time) and I had just started to look at houses and were a little overwhelmed at the whole prospect of it (so much money!). I had also just found out that I had an issue with gluten – and was making sure to live up my last few gluten days with “real” Christmas cookies 🙂

    Now, we’re happily married and have finally left apartment living behind. And I’ve fully embraced my gluten-free lifestyle and loving it.

  43. Mary on December 22, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    I’ve been on the Gatlinburg sky ride…it was fun and not as bad as it looks!

  44. Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed on December 22, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    That is the kitchen of my dreams!

    One year ago… my boyfriend got nice and toasty at a Christmas party, asked me to move in, and barely remembered it happening the next day. Maybe this year he’ll ask without the alcohol speaking for him!

    • Fitnessista on December 22, 2011 at 5:31 pm

      ahhh that’s the worst!
      last time the pilot had a roll call (and all the guys get tipsy), i asked him about trading in my car for a particular suv. he was like “of course we should! that’s been the plan all along.” next day, he remembered nothing. punk.

  45. Lindsay @ Lindsay's List on December 22, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    This was a great “catch me up” post…thank you!! Loved seeing where you’ve been!

  46. Kimberly on December 22, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    You’re such a great example of how you make the situation, the situation doesn’t make you. I have been through many changes through the past few years and this is something I still struggle with.

    Every year for Christmas, I fly home to Arizona to hang out with my fam. 🙂

  47. Chelsa on December 22, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    I love the pics. It’s cool to see older photos of you. I’m glad your Christmas is extra special this year, you deserve it.
    Last year at this time I was traveling home from Florida.

  48. Amanda @ xo, Amanda on December 22, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    What a great post! I recently went back in my blog to reread what I did from Thanksgiving til New Years the last 2 years. It only makes me wish I had a longer written recap down memory lane :). Thanks for sharing yours! And before I even saw your comment about the first picture, the first think I thought was, “what a great kitchen!” can you tell I’m looking to buy a house soon? Lol.

  49. Electra @ vanillabeanlean.com on December 22, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    By the way, you look absolutely amazing in that red dress – it’s gorgeous! And the pic of you two in Gatlinburg? Your outfit is too cute. Can I please steal you for an afternoon to take my shopping and bestow some of your amazing fashion know-how onto me!? 😀

    I love this post (and the dark wood cabinets in that kitchen!). It makes me want to dig up some old christmas pics and see what my last few christmas-es look like side by side!

  50. lauren on December 22, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Loved this.. i like looking back at past years and seeing the changes.. last year this time, I was snowed in my apartment and not in a happy place. Mixed feelings on many decisions. I am still dealing with some of it.. but now in the process of moving and happier 🙂

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