Monday, May 4, 2015

ZINspiration Monday with Paula

Paula lost a ton of weight but found herself with a cancer diagnosis at the age of 42. She fought and survived, and attributes her strength to Zumba as it got her healthy and prepared her for treatment. Here is her story.
It’s funny, because when I was at my unhealthiest I didn’t think anything was wrong.  My weight has always gone up and down and you could never get me to follow a diet because I always found a way to cheat.  But in March of 2010 my weight was extremely high, and one memory that sticks with me was when I was in the shower attempting to shave my legs, and got winded.  I had just gone to my annual physical that year and my doctor wasn’t pleased with my weight gain. He told me that I was on the verge of becoming pre-diabetic. If I didn’t change my lifestyle I was going to have more difficulties down the road,  and that’s when I knew something had to change. 
Paula's before photo

My first Zumba class was one heck of a show.. I could barely lift my legs, but I never gave up. The music made it fun and day after day the moves got easier.  Two years into loving Zumba I decided to get licensed, and took my B1 training in April of 2012 with Tanya Beardsley.  All the tools they taught brought out a new improved version of myself, the one that was hiding inside the shell. I’m a dork at heart, the sillier the better and Zumba made me see that being the real me was o.k. Showing your vulnerable side was what you needed to heal and grow. 

I use that lesson daily.  I make it a point in class to let people know that it’s o.k. to be yourself.  We run our studio with the saying, it’s a NO JUDGEMENT ZONE! With that mindset, we’ve created a family.  A family that I hold very close to my heart, because in September of 2014 I really needed them: I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Those words destroy you… but my Zumba family held me up.  They were there to support, hug, cry, laugh, dance, and fight with me. Some drove up from CT to Boston, MA (Dana Farber!) for appointments and surgeries  with me, all while listening to Zumba playlists. 
Paula after!

The doctors heard of my Zumba love and said that it pretty much saved my life because my weight was healthy when I was diagnosed.  They also said “you need to be strong on the inside” to fight cancer and Zumba gave me all I needed to fight & WIN my battle.  I even had Zumba music playing in the background for one of my last surgeries. It was a smaller procedure so I was awake , but I started dancing around on the table so we had to change the station!! I’m back teaching (only my 4th week) since being out for almost five months.  I will always be thankful for Zumba. It has opened avenues to speak about my situation and raise funds for important causes.

For others looking to get healthy, the hardest part is wanting instant gratification.  Everything takes time, and usually a person who needs to lose weight gives up after a week or so because they don’t see changes.  Zumba has the ability to trick your brain so that you like what you’re doing and forgetthat you're actually exercising… exercise in disguise, it's BRILLIANT! So, if you're looking to get started, just try it.  Once you’re in the door for the first time, all the nerves go away.  And if you don’t like it, go to another studio.. you WILL find one that fits you.  Don’t ever give up on you! (That’s my motto.) At our studio Z!NG F!T in Southington, CT we make sure no one feels uncomfortable.  It’s not a competition, it’s all about unity.  I’m very proud of that.

Love this beautiful photo of Paula's Zumba family!
I jokingly say that zumba makes me feel like I have smiley faces running through my veins.  Who else can say their happy while exercising? Blows my mind… Zumba will live forever and never fade because it just doesn’t change your body it changes your mind. We need more happy in this world!

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