Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Medical Leave from Boot Camp

I haven't been bloggin lately as I have had to stop Boot Camp due to an ankle issue. If you remember from my beginning stories, I have a plate and 8 screws in my ankle, a cadaver ligament in my knee and had back surgery for a ruptured disk. After a year of intense boot camp, I have issues with my ankle.

I have now gone back to Weight Watcher's until I can get my feet back into shape. I'll write more later on that.

Monday, December 7, 2009

YMCA Changes Our Lives! 34TH STORY

During our lifetime, so many people walk in and out of our lives. Some stay for short times and others for lifetimes. The people who have walked in and out of my life have affected me emotionally and physically.

Since I have begun the YMCA Boot Camp one year ago in January, many new people have walked into my life. I have written about the recruits and trainers who have changed my life forever. There are other people as well who I have gotten to know. The receptionist at the YMCA, Anna, is there to greet me every morning. Charlotte Donn from the Miami office of the YMCA makes me feel like I have known her forever. I would have missed so much if I had not gotten off of the couch and joined the YMCA Boot Camp.

The YMCA is an ever changing organization. It emulates our lives with people who walk in and out of our every day lives. There have been a few people who have left the organization over the past year. David Cruz was the membership and Wellness Director when I started. David was a great asset to the YMCA. He would take the time to visit during Boot Camp sessions and talk to the recruits. He came out of his office and was always seen out and about on the premises, not behind a desk. He encouraged me. David left the YMCA to continue his education and he is missed. I haven’t heard from David since he left the YMCA, but I am so thankful that he walked into my life.

Oshun, one of the trainers from the YMCA also left to pursue other goals. As you may recall, I was doing a Warrior of Wine Boot Camp at Schnebly’s with Oshun, but now she has moved on to pursue her main love in life, cooking. She is a fantastic chef who specializes in healthy gourmet cuisine and using what we grow locally. The Oshun Movement (theoshunmovement.com) is a great company and offers so much. I have been doing personal training with Oshun, but with the holidays, coming, etc., I am finding that it is difficult to continue for the time being, but I am not quitting. Oshun has been my biggest cheerleader. She pushes me to no end, but then again, I have to be pushed. I am so thankful that she has walked into my life. I know she is missed by members of the YMCA.

Recently I was informed that Kevin Bolding, the District Vice President/Branch Executive of the YMCA is leaving this week. Kevin has been my “go to” man from the very beginning. He always made himself accessible to me and responded to my concerns. During the summer when I found that the locker rooms were intolerable for those of us who had to shower and dress at the Y before going to work, Kevin immediately moved forward and had fans installed. If I had a complaint, I could go to him and expect to receive a follow-up. If I had a complement, I knew he would get it to the correct set of ears. Kevin was one of my cheerleaders on this great journey of mine to become healthy. He is taking a position with the YMCA in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Although I wish him the best of luck, I will miss Kevin. He was a great asset to the Miami YMCA. I am so thankful to him for walking into my life.

The YMCA is a great organization that has affected me physically and emotionally. The recruits, trainers and staff have given me so much. I am sad that some people are walking out of my life, but look forward to new people who may enter.

Recruit Does the Turkey Trot! - 32ND STORY

Thanksgiving week is a time when many of us look at our waistline. There are two sides of eating during the holidays. On one side, many are scared to death to face the table on Thanksgiving Day and the coming holiday season. They are searching for every diet tip available for all the upcoming festivities. On the other side, some toss all cares aside because it is so close to the New Year that they decide to start their diet on January 1st. Why bother now?

Last year on Thanksgiving, I was in the latter category where I had decided to throw all cares to the wind and eat now because in January I knew I was going to buckle down with my diet and exercising. During the holidays our office, the clients are so sweet they send us mounds of goodies. Chocolates, cakes, breads, and cinnamon rolls are just a few of the treats. If you stand at our kitchen door during the holidays you can enter a diabetic coma just from the smell!

This year, I hope I have my mind in the correct place. I will try to be conscious of what I eat during the holidays and I plan to continue to exercise as much as possible. I am thinking of asking the receptionist in my office to put a cowbell at her desk to ring loudly whenever I even think about eating something I shouldn’t! Actually, I should invest in one of those electronic perimeter fences that a dog owner would use. I’m a crafty person so I could decorate the dog collar with gems and make it look hip. If I went near the kitchen it will send an electrical shock to zap me so that eventually I will become afraid of the kitchen. It is a desperate measure but somehow I have got to refrain from the horrendous temptation of the chocolate towers of death that wait beyond the kitchen door! I can just see me looking like Phyllis Diller with my hair jutting out from all the shocks from the temptation!

I am hoping that continuing to exercise will help me during the holidays. Pain is good for the diet. When my body is in pain, it makes me question if I really want to eat something bad enough that I will add more pounds to my body. Nasty Nestor and Rambo Rico, the Boot Camp leaders at the YMCA and my personal trainer, Oshun, make sure I have plenty of pain!

Nasty Nestor loves doing circuit training. We have decided that he would make a great circus performer as he likes to keep us running from one exercise to the next and so forth like clowns jumping from one ring of the big top to the next. I can just hear it now, “And now….under the Big Top…introducing Nasty Nestor and his Boot Camp recruits! Watch them run. Watch them tumble. Watch them squat.” All of the older women have voted to get Nasty Nestor a girlfriend so he can understand why women have a hard time with circuit training and hallways filled with squats! We have got to get him in touch with his feminine side!

This week at Book Camp, we are under the direction of Rambo Ricco as he is giving Nasty Nestor a break. You have to understand that Ricco does not like to get up early and he is doing the 6 a.m. Boot Camp. I think the only thing that gets him up is the thought that he is going to come and punish us brutally in Boot Camp! I have a good friend who asked me who the young fellow at the Y was who is so loud. I knew immediately that she meant Ricco. She explained that she thought he was louder than God. I’m sure God would agree!

Ricco does not do circuit training but pounces on us with a variety of exercises. He would be the lion tamer. No. He would be the lion as he is aggressive and demanding of all our attention. This past Monday, I believe he was gearing us up for Thanksgiving by having us do the turkey trot on the elliptical machine. We spent 30 minutes on that machine with him coming by and changing the toughness of the walk every few minutes. He was so wrapped up in the punishment that he was even going to change the levels of a gym member who just happened to be on one of the machines in between us! During the time on the machine, he would also have us squat down and sprint really fast for a period of time. My thighs, calves and butt muscles screamed in pain and my shirt was soaked from sweat. This turkey thought she was cooked! I still feel the pain!

Oshun keeps pushing my limits and keeps me in agony. This past week I was tossing a 25 pound weight in my yard like a javelin thrower, hanging onto her ankles and pulling my legs up to her chest, running laps in the yard with heavy weights on my ankles and lying on my mat on the grass doing 50 sit-ups on an incline and yelling with each one. My husband said I woke him up with my yells. I hope the neighbors look out and see what I am doing and don’t think I’m fighting with my husband!

So now we ask again, “Why bother now with watching what we eat?” Last year, I gained 15 pounds by putting it off until January. I will not do it this year. Yes, I will eat everything but I will not eat huge portions. Also, I will go for a walk and keep up my exercise. If you blew it yesterday, today IS a new day! Start now!

Let’s get those turkeys trotting!

Friday, November 20, 2009


Two weeks ago, I wrote about today’s society needing an attitude adjustment when it comes to people who are not your basic size 0 to 10. I stated that many people today look at a heavy person and immediately judge that they are slovenly, lazy and unhealthy and treat them with disgust and that I had allowed this type of attitude to rule my life. I asked everyone to take a moment and walk in my shoes. I truly expected some backlash in e-mails for being so frank and open but this truly is the way I feel and there were no negative responses.

Now it is time to address those who are overweight or obese in society. Unfortunately, I realize there are some who do send the message that we are slovenly and lazy. I am not criticizing, as I know that an overweight person’s self-esteem suffers immensely.

The mind of an overweight person is our number one downfall. It allows others to influence us in a negative way. Many suffer to a point that they no longer care for themselves at all. I had a sister-in-law who was obese. She was a very highly educated woman who was a professor at a college and a successful business woman. She dressed in suits and participated in community organizations.

Over the years, weight caught up with my sister-in-law and it succeeded in pushing down her self-esteem. She stopped wearing make-up, dressed in sweat pants and sloppy clothes. Her hair looked at if it hadn’t been combed in a week. She hardly went out of the house and barely moved off the couch. It broke my heart when her grandson visited me at the age of 6 and told me, “Aunt Sissy. You remind me of my Grammy. (I’m sure it was my size.) She used to hug me like you but then she couldn’t get her arms around me. I hope you can always get your arms around me.” I promised Cade then and there that I will always be able to get my arms around him and hug him tight. I firmly believe that my sister-in-law’s weight was the main cause of her severe depression and dependency on pain pills for a back pain. It all began with her weight.

My dear sister-in-law passed away in her 50’s. My regret is that I lived over 1,200 miles away and was not there with the knowledge that I now have with my own obesity. Maybe I could have made a difference.

If you are an overweight person, please know that you do deserve to dress up and look presentable. Do not give me the excuse that you cannot afford the clothing. Years ago we only had specialty shops to buy bigger sizes and it cost a fortune. Today I often go to Walmart or other discount stores and find very presentable clothing at prices anyone can afford. There is no excuse. Pay attention to how you look when you leave the house. I may be in sweats or shorts at home but you will never see me in shorts in public.

If you are an overweight person, please know that you have the right to go to a beauty salon to have your hair styled, nails done or a pedicure. If you go into a salon and they treat you like you don’t belong there, don’t give up. Find another salon. I once went to a salon where they made me feel like only the model, skinny types could go there. I felt the stares and no one made me feel comfortable. I kept trying until I found a salon that I was happy with.

When you are happy with someone, let them know. They don’t realize how an obese person feels in these situations. I called the owner of Cuttin Loose, Julie Nicotra, and told her that, as an obese woman, I am very insecure about going to places for personal services but her staff has always made me feel like I deserved to be there, and more importantly, that they wanted me there! That is the feeling you need to have because you deserve to be treated that way!

Finally, if you feel you cannot get out and exercise because people will laugh at you, you are so wrong! I used to panic when they would make me run in the parking lot at Boot Camp. I could just imagine people going by and laughing at the fat old lady trying to run. After starting exercising, my fears melted away. I am amazed at how many people tell me they are proud of me for getting out there and doing it. I now have developed a pride in myself for doing it as well.

Who am I to tell you? I am no one special. I don’t have all the answers but I’m learning by walking through this journey. I even decided to start wearing my beloved saddle shoes. I like them. I deserve to wear them. I was walking in your shoes last December until I decided to polish my shoes.

I am asking you to get up and try polishing your shoes. Seek out the treatment you deserve. Get off the couch and try at least one exercise to start with. Put on make-up women! Shave and put on cologne men! Get your hair done. Take stock of your wardrobe and make a mental list of what is more presentable in the public.

Polish your shoes and get out and show others how to walk in them!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Recruit Dances to the YMCA! 30TH STORY

I have been participating as a Warrior of Wine at Schnebly’s Winery under the direction of Oshun, our trainer. Our session has ended and Oshun decided to spend more time as a personal chef which is her first love so I was once again faced with a challenge as to how to continue my physical journey to a healthier me.

The YMCA had stated that they would not have a Boot Camp until January as everyone is busy with the holidays. After speaking with one of the directors of the YMCA, I was informed that they would be starting an interim Boot Camp for a short period of time as the recruits showed their support of the program by signing a petition in favor of continuing the program.

Now I had a decision to make again. Do I continue to personal train with Oshun or do I sign up for Boot Camp? If you have been reading my stories, you must know the answer already. I compensate for my weight by being an overachieving workaholic who has to do everything on her own so it gives me a sense of accomplishment. Of course I chose to do both!

This past Monday, I arrived at the YMCA and was greeted by Nasty Nestor, our trainer. Nestor always screams at me, “Are you going to let me beat you D?” and I always respond with, “There’s no way I will let you beat me.” Immediately Nasty Nestor began trying me by having us stretch and then sending us to run five laps around the entire parking lot of the YMCA. When I first began at the Y, I remember trying to make just one row of the parking lot running and I could not do it. Today, I surprised myself by running one complete lap without stopping to walk. The four other laps were a combination of power walking and running. I felt like Rocky on the top of the steps in Philadelphia! I can hear the tune but can’t remember the words. I’m old!

After the run, Nasty Nestor had us doing steps, push-ups and more. I do believe he actually saw and improvement in my push-ups since the last time I had been in his Boot Camp. When I first started, I could not hold my body off the ground. Now I can hold the plank and bend elbows and lower my body to some degree.

While doing the steps, I realized that my left knee had become extremely sensitive and I took it a little easier. You may recall that I ruptured my anterior cruciate ligament dancing to the YMCA at a Catholic Women’s Convention and now have a cadaver ligament in my knee. I continued on with his demands but did take it a little easier.

On Tuesday Oshun came to my home for personal training. We spent most of the time with hard stretches as my knee still bothered me. Don’t think I didn’t work out. I sweated and worked just as hard stretching as I do with regular exercising! She also warns me about pushing myself too far as she knows how set I am on finishing things and not giving up.

The YMCA Boot Camp is filled with high levels of cardio exercises. On the other hand, Oshun counter balances that with low impact cardio exercises and stretching. I feel that they give me the best of both worlds.

I am icing the knee and on Wednesday, I only power walked the five laps as my knee was still sore. I may be determined but I am not dumb. My fear of injury is tremendous. I spent ten months in a wheelchair, brace, walker and crutches and I will do everything in my power not to injure myself. Oshun and Nestor are very caring in that aspect and both watch over me like mother hens.

I am back into the routine again. I attend Boot Camp on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the YMCA and personal training at my home on Tuesday and Thursday. On Saturday, I clean and do things at home and on Sunday I pray that I will survive another week!
Look out Nasty Nestor! The obese old lady is back and listen up.

You will NOT beat me!

Friday, November 6, 2009


Today’s society needs an attitude adjustment when it comes to people who are not your basic size 0 to 10. Many people today look at a heavy person and immediately judge that they are slovenly, lazy and unhealthy and treat them with disgust. That disgust is shown in stares and remarks thrown at the person.

Years ago, Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell were pin-up girls and the envy of every man. They both wore a size 14/16. Today, they would be considered “fat.” Today we also see stick figures on the runways and in the movies. Thin is in and it seems that anyone wearing a size 12 or above are out. If you are not obese or have never been severely overweight, you just cannot imagine how an obese person suffers through everyday events.

I am an obese 55 year old woman. I have always been extremely heavy since I was a child. This article may make some people angry and I apologize in advance but I am just telling the truth. I am asking you to take a walk in my shoes.

As a child, I was laughed at and ridiculed. I was the last one picked for games on the playground and gym class in the later days was a complete source of embarrassment. I was called, “Fat Sissy.” “Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me” is a complete lie! Oh I spilled rivers of tears due to the cruel taunting of classmates.

Most obese people have a great sense of humor. This sense of humor is developed as a protection mechanism. They pretend to laugh at themselves to cover up the tears. My sense of humor got me through my high school years. Yes, I did have boyfriends and I went to the prom and I believe this was because my sense of humor carried me through.

Every day of my life I have to confront fears of embarrassment due to my obesity. Will I have to sit next to someone on an airplane and have a tight squeeze? Will I fit in a theatre seat? Will I go to a restaurant and be crammed into a booth that is too tight? Will I sit on a lawn chair and break it? Will I have to squeeze between people in a crowd? I was once totally embarrassed when I went to a fair and couldn’t ride a ride because it couldn’t lock properly. These are just a few situations that I have to think of and plan for.

Being obese, I strive to look my best at all times, contrary to the beliefs of those people who think an obese person is slovenly. I spend time making sure my makeup is on, hair in place and that my blouse isn’t pulling too tightly around my body and showing bulges. I check my pants to make sure they fit properly and everything is in place. I do not wear shorts or tank tops in public. I do not wear spandex! I shower every day. Do not label me slovenly!

Laziness has become an obsolete word in my vocabulary. Yes, prior to Boot Camp, I was somewhat lazy but did not just sit around eating junk food all day. I swam, biked, etc. but not regularly. Now my trainer tells me that there are many “normal sized people” who could not keep up with my exercise routine and my lifestyle. I attend Boot Camp three days and do personal training two days a week. On the weekends I clean house, cut grass or whatever needs to be done. I rarely get a moment to sit. Do not label me lazy!

Even though I am obese, I am extremely healthy. “Why don’t you diet fatty?” I have dieted my entire life. I have gone up and down just like a smoker who quits and then starts again. I do not have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. The only medication I take is for an under active thyroid. I go to the doctor regularly for check-ups and everything is fine. Do not call me unhealthy!

In addition, contrary to many people’s beliefs, I am not deaf and I do hear you when you make smart remarks about my weight and fat people do have feelings. Every single remark hurts me like a knife piercing my heart. I won’t cry in front of you but I will in private. I won’t share why I am crying with anyone because it is too painful and embarrassing. I am crying now as I write this article because writing this truth hurts.

It has taken me a long time, a series of Boot Camps and sessions of personal training to realize that the treatment I have received by others has made me feel extremely unworthy in life. I have a loving and supportive husband, children, family and many friends, but I still allowed other people’s opinions to rule me.

On the outside, I have the persona of being confident and secure in all that I do. It is truly a fa├žade and I am beginning to realize this. I am a take charge workaholic who tries to do everything to make everyone happy to compensate for my sense of unworthiness. During this process, I always forget about ME! “ME” being happy never enters into my thought process.

I am mad. No, I am damn mad! I am angry that I have allowed this to happen to me. I guess some will say that I allowed it to happen to me. If you do, you haven’t walked a day in my shoes.

Please do me a favor. The next time you see an obese person, please don’t make them feel inferior. Walk in their shoes.

Monday, November 2, 2009


On October 17th, our son Daniel married a wonderful young lady, Amanda Chambers. Friends and family came from near and far. Airport runs, dinners, entertaining, etc. kept me hopping. Once all my company left, I left on our annual trip with my daughters to the Mt. Dora Craft Show so I was still running like crazy. I just do not feel like I’ve rested in several weeks. Needless to say, I missed three days of Boot Camp and two days of personal training. On top of that, the stress got the best of me and my diet went out the door.

During our trip to Mt. Dora, tradition rules that we visit the Palma Maria restaurant in Casselberry, Florida. This restaurant is owned and run by the Rosinola family from my hometown of Tamaqua, Pa. When I was a little girl, the Palma Maria restaurant was right in front of my home and I used to walk through the back door into the kitchen to pick up food for our family. Then they moved to Florida and I stumbled upon them on one of my trips.

If you ever are up in Orlando and want a true Italian meal, go there. You will not be disappointed. The Rosinola’s bake their Italian bread so of course, you must have bread. On top of that, they make their own desserts and it would be rude to refuse the samples they bring to the table so to be kind, I end up tasting every dessert that they made. To be truthful, the peanut butter pie began calling my name the minute I opened the door! The main courses are to die for.

This past Tuesday was my first day back to exercising. I woke up early and did 20 minutes on the treadmill until my trainer, Oshun, arrived. The workout continued for an hour of sweating, heavy breathing, yelling and yes, crying. My body went from the floor to the elliptical machine to the floor to the ball to the spinning bike to the floor to the ball and more. At some point during my delirium, weights were strapped onto my wrist to add to the resistance of the exercises. My arms are like logs and I have my own natural weights but still she added more! “Don’t they shoot horses in this condition?”

Oshun pushed and pushed. During the stretching, my inner thighs screamed with pain but Oshun would not let up and continued to stretch my extremities to their limits. I silently begged for the time to pass quickly but didn’t dare ask if the time was up. I did not think I could lift my legs or arms one more time but I knew she would make me do it again if I dared to drop them so I pushed myself beyond my previous limits.

This day, Oshun taught and I learned a very powerful lesson. I will not miss more than one Boot Camp session or training session in a row, if ever. I paid the price for my lack of discipline.
Was Oshun too rough on me? No! If she had not done what she did by really pushing me extra hard, I would be tempted to miss again when stress got the best of me or I just didn’t feel like getting up. Was she too harsh in yelling at me? No! If she had said in a normal voice, “Come on Doris, just five more.” I would have said I couldn’t and stopped.
I think that trainers have their own different styles and you have to find one who fits you. I also think that the sign of a good trainer is that you absolutely despise them during the workout but realize that everything they put you through is because they care about you. Oshun is that trainer but she goes a step further by trying to open my eyes to my own emotional needs.
Perhaps the most important lesson that she is trying to teach me is to slowly retrain my brain that associates my obesity with unworthiness. Oshun proved her worth to me this first day back and I certainly want to prove to her, but more importantly, to myself that I am worth all of her efforts.