Everyone who has a ‘success story’ will tell you that there is always that moment in time when it becomes clear you have to make a change. That is the ‘aha’ moment. My ‘aha’ moment came in 2009.
In August of that year, I was a part of Vacation Bible School at my church. I was the mascot, a goofy gal from the swamp, aptly named Skeeter (mosquito… get it?). I had the cutest little outfit to go with the goofy character. Sadly… I was in no shape to wear it.
There is no point in sugar coating anything in life. Let things be what they are: good, bad or ugly. Fact was, I was overweight, fat, obese, overly voluptuous or any other spin you want to put on it.
I was sitting on my couch a week or so later… eating an entire carton of ice cream… and that is when my ‘aha’ moment happened:
I was obese, morbidly so. There was no denying it. I am 5ft 4in and I weighed in at over 258 pounds. I was a size 20. I had gotten myself that way. Not my mother, not my father, not God. I wasn’t ‘big boned’ or fluffy. I got myself obese and I was going to get myself un-obese.
I called my wonderful cousin, Christy Beebe. I tearfully told her my woes. She said “Well, you can come to Zumba.” I had no idea what that was. Dancing? NO WAY! I can’t dance, I told her. If you know Christy, you’ll know that she is a mighty little ninja. Of course I went to Zumba.
On September 8, 2009, I went to Zumba at the South Y led by the wonderful Nikki Phillips. My cousin, the ninja, made me stand up front although I wanted to stand in back. I was hooked on Zumba after the very first song! I didn’t get the moves right, went the wrong way, was off beat, but guess what? I kept going.
Pieces of the shell I was in fell off as fast as the weight did, 125 pounds in all. I forgot that I went to Zumba because I wanted to be thinner. I went because of my friends, because people expected me to be there, missed me when I wasn’t.
I become an instructor in April 2011. I didn’t want to, but God seemed to have other plans for me on that front. I taught at the Galena First Baptist Church for nearly 4 years.
In December of 2014, Nikki called me and asked if I would like to come teach for the Joplin YMCA. I was, and still am, honored at the opportunity. I have never loved anything more than teaching Zumba, except for teaching Zumba at the Y.
I have so many people to thank for helping me on my journey, and they know who they are, but there are two ladies that I want to call out. Christy Beebe, for being a mighty little ninja and making me step out of my comfort zone, and Nikki Phillips, whose comment about lifestyle changes helped me realize that what I wanted wasn’t a fantasy. I could make it a reality by just “eating coco puffs instead.” (aka making small changes to your everyday life)
Finally, a couple of little insights to me:
I love to run (marathons!), go to Roger Brown’s yoga class, and BodyPump.
I am very introverted. My passion for Zumba and the YMCA allow me to feel safe enough to step out of that little box, and I love it! Every single song in my playlist always has meaning behind it. I put my heart and soul into each song.
I hope to see you soon!
Zumba Love, Erica Christiansen