It’s the middle of the night. Guess who woke up needing to write? This girl. Earlier this evening, at a more appropriate time for the sane, I tried to writing about something that happened to me today but it just didn’t knit together. I think sometimes these thoughts need to bounce around in my brain a little longer to gel. At any given moment I have up to 10 ideas running around in my head waiting to get out and onto the blog. It’s exhausting for my brain’s file keeper to wrangle them into something coherent and keyboard worthy. I’ve learned if it doesn’t flow out of my fingers onto the screen it’s just not ready. So what made the cut at 2 am? Zumba.
I took one year of ballet and tap when I was six years old. I don’t remember much about it except I got to wear a pretty tutu for the recital held at the end of the year. After that class I went on to try gymnastics. (I was tall even then so it didn’t take.) I also took baton twirling lessons. (Don’t judge. I am from Oklahoma and it was a thing back then.) If there was an extracurricular activity out there and I wanted to try it my mom and dad made sure I had the opportunity to do it. I went on to be a cheerleader in 7th and 8th grade, I ran track till 10th grade, played softball till 9th grade, and basket ball through 10th grade. That was when I after watching many pep rallies and wanting so much to dance on the football field I decided to try out for the Alma Steppers. The Steppers were the Pom Team at my high school and in my opinion they were awesome. To prepare for this I really needed to up my game, my dance game. Basket ball does not translate well into dancing. I stayed up late one night to watch Night Tracks, a show for night owls wanting to watch the latest videos. This was in the late 80’s and there was no such thing as you tube or DVR’s, so I recorded Janet Jackson’s (Ms Jackson if you nasty) Pleasure Principle video on the family’s VCR. I watched, rewound, studied, attempted the dance moves and repeated this process until I could do some of the moves with the precision displayed by ‘teacher’. When try outs came around in the spring of my sophomore year I went for it. I made the pom team and was an Alma Stepper for my Jr. and Sr. years of high school. Thank you Ms. Jackson.
Fast forward 23 years. Add about 100 pounds. Add 1 heart condition exacerbated by extra poundage. Subtract multiple failed diets. Add gastric sleeve surgery.
When you are preparing to have gastric sleeve surgery or any other weight loss surgery for that matter, you have multiple hoops to jump through for you physician and for your insurance company. I in early 2014 made it through the obstacle course preparing for surgery. (If you want to read about my surgery, see the post, “an anniversary slips by”) One of the many appointments I had to attend was with an exercise physiologist. I didn’t want to go. Ugh. I could walk up steps at home and at work. I could walk two miles every evening now and planned to do the same post op. What more did these people want from me? Begrudgingly I went to my appointment. The whole purpose was to make sure I had a plan in place to make exercising a part of my everyday life and I had my plan. Walking was my exercise of choice. Easy peasy. A couple of days before the appointment I saw, on a friend’s desk a tear off daily calendar page, a cartoon summing up how I felt about the whole exercise thing. My friend let me have the page and I took it with me to share with the exercise lady at my appointment. The text: “I’ll give you two reasons why I don’t exercise. 1. I hate it and 2. It sucks. Perfectly put I thought. Jill, the exercise physiologist, laughed and said she appreciated my candor. I kind of wonder in retrospect if she did but anyway we talked about my plan for exercise for the rest of my life. She asked me what kind of activities I use to do before the weight gain. I went through the whole spill about my youth and even talked about being physically active into young adulthood, prior to children. I told her that once upon a time I loved to dance. She encouraged me to try a gym out. No way! I hate the gym. It’s no place for a fat chick. After I cooled by jets we got around to discussing the options available in my town. She asked if I like Zumba to which I replied, “You ever heard the music? I don’t care for the latino vibe.” I had an excuse for everything she put out there but in the end and when it came down to it, I was there making this huge commitment to myself, to my health and I had to do more than walk for exercise. I had to bite the proverbial bullet.
When i was cleared by my doctor to return to work following the surgery he also released me to increase my activity from walking to what was planned during my appointment with the exercise physiologist. Zumba time. After reviewing the exercise schedules for the two largest gyms in town I decided on the one with the most Holly friendly schedule. Zumba at 4:45 pm over Zumba at 6:00 am, is going to be my choice any day. I did not have high expectations. Then in walks Miss. Brittney, spit fire, and Zumba instructor extraordinaire. She armed with an amazing attitude, sense of humor, great playlist of songs and kick bootie dance moves did the impossible. She tricked my body into exercising and it didn’t even know. I’m not saying it was easy. I was pretty out of shape, battling my body habitus to do the moves and still recovering from surgery, but it stuck. I started out doing the low impact versions of all the moves and as the weight started to come off I could do more. I started to jump a little bit more, do a little more bootie shaking and even managed to get my hips to wake up and when Brittney says, “Give it some flava”, I DO! I’m no Beyonce’ but I try to channel her during Zumba!
Zumba became more than just a tool to help with the weight loss. Last fall when my life started unraveling at the seams Zumba helped me escape my trouble world for a little while. I would go into that classroom at the gym for 90 minutes and check my worries at the door. I was hurting internally so much, It felt like my heart had been ripped from of my chest and in its place was an empty void, but when those speakers started blasting out the familiar dance songs I was able to do something besides focus on my internal ache. The troubles I dealt with all day long were put on hold. It was time for Zumba. I kept dancing (notice I’m not saying exercising?) through the toughest time of my life and I’m still dancing. I haven’t met my personal weight loss goal YET but I’m getting closer. I have met my personal fitness goal which in my opinion is way better. Those troubled times I mentioned are also getting better. The biggest ache in my heart has resolved and the rest is healing slowly. Zumba helped keep my sanity, which has always been a little questionable, intact.
Along the way I have gotten to know Brittney outside of class and am happy to call her friend. She is as much fun away from class as she at the gym. I think it’s a bit infectious which is a good thing.
I still hate exercising. I think it still sucks. BUT I love Zumba!
Daisies, Coffee and Chocolates,