Tonja Jordan had tears in her eyes when she crossed the finish line at Monday’s Labor Day Road Race.
Over the past year and a half she has lost 103 pounds.
Walking and jogging, Jordan, 46, who now weighs about 260 pounds, finished the 3.1-mile course in a little more than 51 minutes.
She hugged her 17-year-old daughter, Chanice, and others, including her personal trainer, Robin Castro.
As they embraced, Jordan told Castro, “I wouldn’t trade you for cheesecake.”
Jordan had just trimmed more than 10 minutes off her time in last year’s road race, eclipsing the one-hour mark.
“This was a huge milestone for her,” Castro said. “I’m just beyond proud of her.”
Jordan, a secretary at a Macon hospital, embarked on a fitness regimen in March 2014. Her father had just died of complications from high blood pressure and diabetes.
She joined Weight Watchers and hired a personal trainer. At first, knee pain limited her to pool workouts.
“I could never have imagined doing something like this,” she said after Monday’s race.
Before losing the weight, it was hard for her to walk from her desk to go down a hallway at work.
In spring 2014 when she learned she was at risk for diabetes, she went home and cried. Then she hit the gym.
“The toughest part is being consistent,” she said.
Jordan grew up in Macon and played the flute in Southwest High School’s marching band.
“I’ve been overweight all my life,” she said.
Her weakness was cake. Any sweets, really.
She has found that plain sweet potatoes help her fend off cravings.
“You just imagine it’s a sweet potato pie,” she said.
Her daughter, Chanice, spoke of Jordan’s “late nights at the gym.”
Jordan’s stepfather, Curtis Roundtree, said her self-esteem “has gone up through the roof.”
He said, “I used to tell her the hardest thing about losing weight is to start.”
Now she exercises most every day -- two or three times some days.
“It’s a lifelong journey,” Jordan said. “This is my new life and I’m loving it.”
To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.