By Alexander Germanis
An unfortunate human tendency is the desire to look for others to blame for every problem in the world. This becomes increasingly easy to do when that problem is negatively affecting us on a personal level. Perhaps that’s why it is so refreshing when someone is willing to take responsibility and make positive changes in their own life.
Weight gain is a serious health problem in this country and there are myriad excuses one can use as to why one will not get healthier. But one woman in particular took a look in the mirror and said the only one who was going to make the change she wanted to see in her world was herself.
No Better Time Than Now
Before Teresa Moore of Davenport had reached her 52nd birthday, she knew it was time to make a change. With two hip replacement surgeries, three ankle replacements, and too many pounds on her frame, she decided it was well past time to take better control of her life.
“I’m married, I’ve got a 32 year-old and a 20 year-old, and I want to be there in their lives,” Teresa determined. “I figured I’m not old yet and I want more out of life. I needed to be a lot healthier, a little bit stronger, and I wanted to shed some weight.”
It was going to be easier said than done. With her multiple joint replacements, she found herself either stuck in bed, sitting in a wheelchair, or doing her best to move about with a walker. So when her physical therapist asked her about her goal, the answer was simple: to lose every device at home and become physically independent.
But Teresa knew her chances to change were far more achievable with help. Enter YMCA physical trainer Wendy Vance.
Better Than a Vacation
“Wendy was my personal trainer at the Y,” Teresa shares. “I love her to death. She is who inspired me even more to go every day to the gym. At first I was only going three days a week for maybe an hour a day. But she’d say, ‘Let’s try this. Let’s try this.’ Every time she said that, all it did was help me. I grew a little stronger the more she threw obstacles my way.”
Listening to Teresa’s goals, Wendy was able to alter and customize Teresa’s fitness program, designing workouts tailored specifically for her. That way, Wendy explains, “My clients are able to celebrate early successes while always feeling positively challenged to be even better than the day before. This makes them excited to come back—because they realize how obtainable their goals really are!”
The benefits of physical health have a positive impact on mental health as well, as Wendy knows from personal experience. Before helping Teresa make a change, Wendy had to make a change in her own life. Having not been to the gym in years, she wasn’t eating healthily and was mired in a decade of depression. “Then one day I went to the gym, got up on the treadmill, and started walking slowly,” Wendy shares. “After that day I didn’t look back—now I am healthier than I’ve been in decades. I’ve lost over 100 pounds!”
That boost to her mental health turned her life around and now she’s spreading the philosophy of physical/mental positivity to others like Teresa who now considers the Y a second home.
“I love the Y,” Teresa exclaims. “If I had a choice to be in any place, before even a vacation I would go to the Y. When I walk in the door they automatically know my face and they even know my number. That makes me want to go there every day. It’s my getaway thing every day.”
Stop Saying ‘Can’t’
Teresa’s journey of change may not be typical, but that’s simply because she had the two assets that matter the most: support and a positive attitude.
“Attitude is everything!” Wendy confirms. “Fitness is a lifestyle change; it’s not a quick race from start to finish. To sustain any kind of fitness routine, you need to be getting something out of it that truly means something for you. You can’t do it for anyone else.”
“You’re doing it to make your insides feel good and make your outside look beautiful,” Teresa agrees. “And it can be done if you put your mind to it and stick to it.”
Although it often takes time to see significant results, a positive attitude will see you through. Wendy says there are things to enjoy along the journey, such as how your mind and body feel during a workout, how the exercise can be a welcome escape from daily responsibilities, and how it can often be a great way to make new friends.
Teresa has certainly made her share of friends at the Y and she actively shares her positive attitude and support with nearly everyone who crosses her path. When joining a group of older women who were just starting their own journeys of change, Teresa laments that a lot of them were down on themselves. “One of them kept saying, ‘I can’t do this. I can’t,” Teresa remembers. “I would just tell her, ‘Stop saying you can’t and say you can.”
That is typical of the community one finds at the YMCA, Wendy concurs. “At the YMCA, you’ll find a ‘family’ who truly cares for and roots for one another.”
Learning Along the Way
Part of the support system Teresa found was in having a knowledgeable trainer at her side to act as a guide and companion. Although Wendy can’t be there for everyone who walks in the door wanting to start their own journey of change, she does have advice as to what to look for.
“When picking a trainer, make sure you feel comfortable with them and you feel ‘heard,’” she suggests. “My clients are the most important thing to me during their training time, and they continue to be important to me throughout their fitness journey. I am 100 percent invested in helping them reach their goals—whatever it takes!”
Having that personal trainer with you can be a huge benefit when it comes to how to use the exercise equipment safely as well as how to avoid injuring yourself while working out. Trainers are knowledgeable about not only fitness, but also classes and programs at the gym. A trainer can aid with special training, is invested in your success, is there to challenge you, see you strive for your goals, and of course is there to cheer you on every step of the way.
Some of their knowledge comes in the form of nutrition, as Teresa discovered. “A big thing was learning how to eat the right way, what times to be eating, and how to eat,” she says. “When you’re overweight you tend to eat on a big plate and you overeat. My life changed dramatically after I got more and more into working out because I had to cook different—making different proportions. I had to learn to start eating more vegetables and protein. And I drink lots of water. All I’m doing to my body now is maintenance.”
Take Control and Live Well
Both Wendy and Teresa experienced significant changes in their lives for the better, and they did it by taking control of their lives. It might have taken some time, but they realized and accepted no one was going to step in and make the changes for them.
“YMCA members know it’s never too late or too hard to make a change,” Wendy encourages. “Take control of your story and start being kinder to your body and mind.”
Teresa agrees wholeheartedly. “You only get one life. Do good with it.”