Wednesday, October 16, 2013

For Love of Zumba

While reading through other weight loss blogs and testimonials I noticed one thing that they all seemed to share: Running.  Everyone who lost weight seemed to pick up a healthy habit of running to go with it.  This was a problem because I hate running.  Now I know there is a difference between running at 200 pounds and running at 125, but I used to do Cross Country in High School (because it was the only sport I couldn't get cut from) when I weighed 135, and I didn't like it then.  I hated how I would always dry heave after each race and I hated the way it felt when I was running, and besides that I developed a really bad case of the shin splints my first year and managed to pull  both of my calf muscles my second.  No, running is not for me and I can't believe that you have to run to lose weight.  This post addresses how I found my exercise passion, and let me tell you: It is not running.

Sometime around the 200 pound mark I realized that I needed to start exercising.  I didn't have access to a gym since I couldn't afford the monthly fees plus childcare.  I have never been too good at sticking to exercise DVDs, even ones that I enjoy.  Exercising with two young children around was perplexing, and I was not sure how to do it.  I remembered that I enjoyed Zumba classes after Lily was born, but I couldn't afford classes and Matt was gone most nights so he couldn't watch the kids while I went to classes anyway.  So I was back at square one. 

When I first started exercising, I did my 20 minute Zumba express video and that killed me!  I could hardly make it the whole 20 minutes.  I knew I had to start somewhere though, and I might as well start with what I had: the DVDs and do that until my attention turned elsewhere.  I invited my younger sister Chase over to do the video with me and that was even more fun.  Chase has Zumba Core on the Wii and my excitement over starting to exercise won her over and she started doing Zumba with renewed vigor.  At home I tried to do my Zumba when at least one of my kids (usually Lily) were taking a nap, and this worked until Lily decided that she didn't need to nap anymore, but that comes later.

Realizing I was missing out on all the fun over at my parents house I started heading over to Zumba with Chase once a week.  The first time I went, we exercised for almost a whole hour and I thought I was going to die!  My legs didn't want to cooperate and I was so tired and just felt like I had absolutely no energy.  But I persevered and forced myself to finish the workout, even though I am sure I didn't  have very good form, at least I was still moving. 

Since I am a gamer a heart, I slowly began to increase my stamina by playing the game and exercising off of you tube videos of Zumba Core Wii songs.  I would put Chloe in her bouncer and she was just the perfect angel.  She would sit quietly in her bouncer or bounce herself in time to the music.  Lily on the other hand could be a challenge.  When I first started doing Zumba with Lily awake, she was interested and would dance with me almost the whole time I was exercising.  Having her run around my feet did make it harder to exercise but at least she was happy.  Not every day was perfect though, some days I had to stop in the middle of my exercise because Lily was being too difficult and needed some more attention; sometimes Lily would go outside and play while I finished my exercise.  Other times Lily would fall off our wall in the back yard and I would have to stop for the day, but I always went back another day.  I never gave up, I never said "it's just too hard to exercise at home with two young children".  Every now and then I still have to stop in the middle of a workout because Lily gets into trouble or needs attention.  Chloe is still the perfect angel, hanging out in her bouncer enjoying the music.  If Chloe gets fussy it usually means she wants to go to sleep so I will put her to bed and then go finish my exercise. 

Then came the fateful day that all the videos I had been using on YouTube were taken down, probably due to copy right infringements.  For the next few weeks I floundered in my exercise as I tried to do my DVDs or go to my parents to use the Wii, but my parents and Chase were so busy with different activities I rarely was able to come over before the kids bed time. 

Finally, near my birthday (July 20th) Zumba finally came out with a game app for the I Pad.  I was ecstatic and immediately bought the app and all the songs as my birthday present.  This was revolutionary for me.  I loved the songs, and since it was a game it was so easy for me to go back to it again and again.  I loved learning the new songs, and seeing many of the songs I loved from Zumba Core.  I loved picking and choosing songs and doing them in the order that I wanted to.
iPad Screenshot 2

In fact I still use this app today to get most of my exercise in!  However, I really wanted to go to a live class.  So I found a dance studio called "Springs Salsa and Dance" and when I found out they have monthly Friday Night Live classes that are 90 minutes long and only $5 per person I begged Matt to go, and he lovingly obliged.  Here is a picture of me at my first Friday Night Live Dance (honestly I can't believe I am claiming this picture, I think I look awful and I have a stupid expression on my face, but oh well).  I am in the hot pink shirt right in the middle of the photo.

I believe I am somewhere in the 190s in this photo.
I had such a great time, and my inner fire for Zumba was blazing.  I decided then and there that I was going to become a Zumba Instructor no matter what it took!  (which would be a lot of exercise and healthy eating!)  I absolutely love Zumba, I love to dance, I love the music and it makes me feel good and happy.  If I am having a bad day I can do Zumba to cheer me up, or I don't feel too good, it is usually because I need to Zumba. 

For a former exercise avoid-er, feeling this inner fire and love for exercise is entirely new.  Now I believe that everyone who is looking to lose weight and doesn't like to exercise just needs to find the right form for them.  There is so much more out there than running!  For $30 (the cost of the app) I now have endless hours of Zumba exercise and classes right at my fingertips.  I know many people choose running because its free, you can just step outside and go running.  But guess what, I have two kids, and I can't just step outside and go running.  You can do a step class, take up spinning, body pump, whatever lights your inner fire and gets you moving!

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