Monday, November 3, 2014

ZINspiration Mondays with Mary Lindemuth Arulanantham

Mary is from San Ramon, CA, and used Zumba to overcome a variety of challenges that would have most people throwing their hands up in the air. Kudos to you, Mary! Here is her story.

Almost 3 years ago, I was struggling with depression, obesity, hormonal issues, and just plain feeling stuck and isolated. I was trying, one step at a time to reconnect with friends and get out more.

My friend dragged me into a Zumba class, telling me I would love this talented and hilarious instructor. She was right; once a week became twice, 3 times, 4. At the end of that year, I had a strong understanding of the moves, some fun new friends, and the beginning of a personal relationship with that quirky, wonderful instructor.

The second year, I had the confidence and support from that wonderful Zumba community to commit to a fitness and weight loss program. I lost 70 pounds, dancing up to 12 times a week (which I don't necessarily recommend, but I was trying to force my metabolism back to life). As the pounds dropped away, I was able to find other kinds of support at the gym to enhance my efforts, hiring a personal trainer to do weight training and working on more effective ways to eat. (I also cared enough to see a doctor for the other issues, not just letting things go.) I ventured out to some non-class Zumba events, and began following my original instructor in earnest at the dance studio he manages. By the end of the year I had scheduled my B1 training and was really on my way.

Now it is close to the end of year 3 since getting started. My health and weight are stable and I feel better at 53 than I did at 40. I have my own class at the dance studio and sub regularly, with new job prospects coming my way. More importantly, I am renewed by my close relationships with my original instructor and others who mentor and support me. I have a whole new outlook. Obviously, my life is not perfect, but I am so grateful for everything that Zumba, and the dynamic people who make up this community, has brought me.


When I asked Mary what advice she would give someone who thinks they can’t get started, she said:

The typical reaction I get from people is "Well, I don't have time for all that." People can be very defensive, even when they are the ones who asked me about the subject, and I make a point of emphasizing that each journey is unique. I think the most uncomfortable thing people must do when they are in that starting place and think they can't do it is to look in the mirror and decide (because it is a choice, whether we want to admit it or not) to love yourself enough to give yourself the gift of commitment. After that, everything else will be an answer to the question, "Can I?"

Zumba works especially well for this because the overall philosophy is welcoming (it's a party!) and nonjudgmental. So, you must love yourself before you can give yourself permission to put yourself first, whether it is going just once or twice a week to a Zumba class, or a nice walk every morning, or yoga. After that, I would add--baby steps, and surround yourself with positive people. I didn't lose any weight at all for a year; I was busy having fun with my new passion!

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