I was asked me to submit a story about my journey and the role in which the YMCA has played in it. I wanted to share this with you, not only because I've been meaning to write a post this weekend, but also because I love the YMCA and all it stands for. It truly has been instrumental in my journey thusfar, and will continue to be.
"When I began my journey, I was the heaviest I had ever been. I was tipping the scales at 257 lbs, I was a size 20, I was depressed, I always felt like the fattest woman in every room, and I was selfishly allowing myself to head toward a future of diabetes, heart disease, and hormone imbalance. With a severe history of anorexia and bulimia throughout my tween and teenage years, I had suddenly found myself at the opposite end of the ‘unhealthy’ spectrum.
"At 257 lbs, there were a lot of things I ‘knew’ about myself. I ‘knew’ I was not an athlete, I ‘knew’ I would never be a runner, I ‘knew’ I would always be fat; I ‘knew’ I would never be able to love the reflection in the mirror.
"With the encouragement of a friend, I began visiting the YMCA a few times a week. My workouts were slow and low in intensity at first (often I worked my vocal chords and mouth muscles more than anything). I think I enjoyed having some ‘adult time’ more than anything, which is hard to come by as a stay at home mommy. Even though I cried like a baby the first time I left my son in Toddler Time (who, by the way, was totally fine with being left), I quickly became confident and quite pleased with the level of care he was receiving. I am unfailingly thankful for Toddler Time (and especially the staff) – it has been there that my son has been able to obtain the social skills and friendships he otherwise would be lacking.
"I soon began taking Yoga, which became a Godsend for my clouded ‘Mommy brain’. I even expressed interest in instructing, but I added the disclaimer that I would have to lose 50 lbs before it would be appropriate for me to do so. I was told to stop being ridiculous (thank you Dawn – I mean that) and I was soon a regular substitute instructor. I finally mustered up the courage to achieve my Advanced Yoga Instructor Certification, and through a series of events no one could have ever predicted, I began teaching my own class. A very small voice in my head kept telling me I had no business instructing a room full of women half my size, but with the ever-present encouragement of my newly found YMCA family, I kept going. I can honestly say that working as a fitness instructor is the only work I have ever done that has made me consistently happy and proud of myself. Although being able to help others achieve their goals is more rewarding than achieving my own.
"In November I decided to take my fitness to the next level by joining CrossFit. I was terrified (with a capital T); I was worried that I couldn’t handle it. But I began, and I was instantly enchanted. CrossFit immediately challenged me to rethink everything I thought I knew about myself. I have learned to train like an athlete, I have learned to run, and I have learned not to settle for what I thought I had to be. CrossFit has allowed me to be part of a team for the first time in my life, and this team is made up of some of the most interesting (and absolutely the most encouraging and supportive) group of individuals I have ever met. Even when the workouts are mentally and physically harder than anything I ever thought I could accomplish, the environment and support of the team, and coach, allows me to achieve goals I never thought were possible. I might also add that I have dropped 2 jeans sizes since beginning CrossFit 12 weeks ago.
"There have been hundreds of mornings when I wanted to skip my workouts, to stay in bed, and to stop this journey. But the positive environment and smiling faces at this facility have kept me going. In a town where we have no family, the McPherson Family YMCA has provided me with a sense of community that I craved. As of today, I weigh 172 lbs, wear a size 10, and feel better than I have ever felt in my entire life. I am, without a doubt, healthier than I have ever been, I have more energy, I sleep better, I am sick less often, and I have even begun to like what I see in the mirror. I am amazed at the things I have been able to accomplish because of the McPherson Family YMCA, and my success has even encouraged some of my friends and family to begin a healthy living journey all their own."