Friday, July 10, 2009


Recruits on National TV
Doris D. Meneses

Recently NBC Nightly News came to the Homestead YMCA Boot Camp. They were doing a story on gyms and how the economy has affected the membership. It will eventually air on NBC Nightly News but it has not been scheduled as of yet.

As we were warming up for our workout, I recognized one of the YMCA Miami staff members who was walking over my way. She brought a tiny young lady over with her and she introduced NBC News Correspondent Michelle Kosinski to me. Ms. Kosinski then introduced her camera man as well. She told me that she had heard about me and asked a few questions. We also talked about the fact that my husband is self-employed and that Boot Camp is my priority no matter what. She asked if she could interview me and that quickly a microphone was clipped onto my shirt and I was given a box to hold in my hand. The camera man lifted his camera and I immediately asked that he get my best side if he could find it!

Prior to Ms. Kosinski beginning the interview, I began to sweat as I realized that here I would be on national TV wearing my mandatory Boot Camp shirt which is sleeveless with big arm holes. Now this shirt is o.k. for a muscle bound jock who has muscles protruding from his shoulders but on an old fat lady like me, the rolls of fat seep out the edges of the sleeve and fall like a volcanic flow! Talk about showing everything!!! The only thing holding me in was my sports bra!

All of a sudden I realized that this was it. No holds barred. I already admitted my weight and inner most feelings on the front page of the newspaper so there is nothing left except for me to show it all on national TV! I worry that I am entering into the realms of senility or else I am just plain nuts! Can I seriously do this?

Ms. Kosinski asks questions regarding the Boot Camp and financial issues. I explain that I will scrimp and save so that I can attend Boot Camp because I cannot control the money coming in at this point but my health and weight loss is the only thing I seem to have control of right now. She thanks me and they move on to video the recruits in action.

At one point during the filming, the camera man came so close to my face that I just could not concentrate! Oshun, our trainer, had us working with bands and I could not see her for the camera man in my way. I wondered if he was trying to get my wrinkles, my sweat drops of just see what was up my nose! Then Ms. Kosinski did lunges along side of our group. I felt like a giant next to her as she did not have one ounce of fat on her body. I kept thinking that I would like to give her a few of my pounds to carry around. All joking aside, Ms. Kosinski and her camera man were very nice.

You never know how things can be turned around in the press. I will say that the South Dade Newsleader has printed every one of my stories verbatim and I thank them for never changing or sugar coating the story. I pray every night that when this does air, the nation will see that just because this 54 year old woman is entombed in an obese cocoon, she is not to be ignored. She is not to be ridiculed. She is not to be laughed at. She is not to be forgotten. Yes. It does scare me.

I fight every single day to break out and right now, the YMCA Boot Camp is the tool I am using to dig my way out. I pray that others will see that if I can attempt to do this, so can they. I don’t know if I’ll be successful but I know I will keep trying and the recruits and trainers in the YMCA Boot Camp have been the most encouraging sources I have yet to encounter.

I am a recruit in the YMCA Boot Camp and I am beginning to believe that I deserve to be there!


Boot Camper Goes AWOL!


Doris D. Meneses

The Y Train Summer Boot Camp Session began on Saturday, June 27th however this recruit was AWOL. I had planned a trip to visit my family in Pennsylvania so I am missing in action but I did get permission for leave and will miss the first 4 sessions.

During leave, I am visiting my hometown of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania or Pa. (pronounced Pee-ay by residents). This place is not diet or Boot Camp friendly. I cannot drink the amount of water that I am used to due to the fact that the area is very rural and I would have no where to empty my bladder if I leave the house! In addition to the geographical problems, the food, exercise and the social life are fighting me all the way!

The first day I arrived, we were having a surprise 60th birthday for my brother. The party was held at one of the local fire companies. There are several fire companies in Tamaqua and the surrounding area and you have to understand that the fire companies have banquet rooms and bars in them. Yes, a bar with liquor and beer! The fire trucks are in the garage and the party is upstairs. One of my friends who visited with me last year asked if the firemen start drinking before or after the fire. These volunteer firemen are dedicated but they also know how to party! Maybe that is what the Miami-Dade County Fire Department need to give there firemen….an in-house bar! You may also visit the firehouse for mackerel breakfasts (I missed that one thank goodness), sauerkraut dinners or spaghetti dinners.

As I walked up to the food line at the party (4 long tables piled high with food), the foods I saw were incredible and there was one tiny tray of veggies. I tried to pick and choose as best I could but I could feel my thighs swelling with anticipation of the impending fat coming their way.

In Tamaqua and the surrounding towns, there are no chain restaurants such as Ruby Tuesdays, Longhorn, or the likes where you may be able to choose something healthy. Instead, we go to bar rooms that are in peoples’ homes that have a dining room in the back such as the White Swan, Frog Town, The Red Lion and Houran’s which serve good food but “diet” is not considered. Local foods such as pierogies, rhubarb pie, shoo fly pie, scrapple and halushki are just a few of the desired dishes that call me by my first name! When I come to Tamaqua, I am no longer known as Doris. Everyone in the town knows me as my family nickname which is Sissy. Those local foods are up front and personal and have now begun to call me by my nickname! I’ve been trying hard to resist temptation but the rhubarb pie was just too much! I fought it and told it to leave me alone but it kept saying, “Sissy, I know you want me!” Just like that it jumped up onto my plate and I was in a hypnotic state as the fork came into my mouth. Father forgive me for I have sinned!

I found out that just a few months ago, Tamaqua opened its first YMCA in a defunct shopping center so exercise is an option but my social schedule is keeping me away. I do get up in the morning and do sit-ups, a few push ups and stretches. I also walk the area. I stay with my brother and his wife in Brockton which is a little town near Tamaqua. The entire area is mountainous so anywhere you go, you are confronted with hills. Even in Tamaqua, you are constantly going up and down hills and steps built into the mountains that take you to another level of town. I was impressed with the fact that I was able to do the steps without stopping half way up, gasping for breath and calling for a hydraulic lift to get me down! Thank you Boot Camp!

Socially it is very difficult to be a Boot Camp recruit in Tamaqua. My friends’ and family gatherings center around food and drink. I met 30 classmates at a restaurant called Dimaggio’s in Tamaqua. Italian all the way! I managed to leave half of my dinner on the plate and felt good about that. In addition, I decided that I would be the designated driver at all events so that I would not gain calories from the bottle! I did try to save my calories for those foods that I do not get often such as the rhubarb pie. My sore muscles thankfully remind me of the pain I will endure if I over-indulge. Thank you Boot Camp!

All in all, I feel I am doing pretty well and I am very conscious of what I have been putting in my mouth. As I write this I am still in Pennsylvania headed to the Shady Maple in Amish country which is once again, a restaurant that features a huge buffet. Do you think I can get my egg white omelet there? “Father please protect my thighs and arms as I don’t think they stand a chance.”

Next Wednesday it is back to Boot Camp in Homestead. This summer session is adding a new torture device. It is called the pool! Look out Homestead! I don’t know if you are ready for this one but here comes a larger than life Esther Williams! Can I swim in sweat pants?

This Boot Camp recruit continues to attempt to unearth the real Doris Meneses who is entombed in this body.

I am a recruit in the YMCA Boot Camp and after being AWOL, I certainly need to be there!

Please look for the next article in this series to follow shortly.


Progress with Boot Camp


Doris D. Meneses

Hoorah! I have just completed the second session of the YMCA Boot Camp. I have crawled and ached through the first session which lasted eight weeks and screamed and limped through my second session which lasted ten weeks. Eighteen weeks of physical endurance that comprised of putting my body through movements it has not done in over 40 years or had never done and hurting in new places that I never knew existed on my body! Eighteen weeks of emotional tribulation that included others forcing me to confront issues that were encapsulated so deep within me that I did not realize they existed! Eighteen weeks of social awakening that involved me learning to accept that others loved and cared for me and attempting to believe that I deserve to participate in new things! These past eighteen weeks have changed my life forever.

When I started Boot Camp, I could not put my legs together and bend over and touch my toes. I could not even get off the ground to hold my body up into a plank position to do a push- up. I could not grasp my hands behind my back because of fat interference. I was afraid to do a jumping jack. I could not do a sit up. My cholesterol was 288. My weight was 293. My clothing was a size 26. I was sedentary and hated exercising.

Physically, Boot Camp has produced many changes. I can now not only touch my toes from a standing position, I can touch the ground. I can not only hold my body up in a push-up plank position, but am now starting to come down half-way into the push-up. I can grasp my hands behind my back with ease and am starting to be able to raise them up. I cried the day I did a jumping jack and can usually do 10 to 15 without stopping. I can do at least 5 good sit ups to my knees and many more without making it all the way up. My cholesterol has gone down to 204. My weight has decreased to 280. My clothing is now a 20 to 22. I have lost over 30 inches overall on my body. I can now move with a fair amount of ease and look forward to my workouts.

When I started Boot Camp, my weight kept me an emotional captive. I did not realize how my weight had left me so emotionally scarred and fearful of trying something new.

Emotionally, Boot Camp has allowed me to grow. I had my moments of crying but now I realize that the emotional confrontations continue to make me a stronger person. I realize that obese women or men do deserve to have emotional support. Let me clarify this. I have always had the emotional support from my husband, children, family and friends but Boot Camp has made me realize that I never really believed that I deserved to have that support or that it was genuine. I was blinded by obesity.

When I started Boot Camp, I constantly felt others only saw my outside appearance and nothing more. I was very insecure.

Socially, Boot Camp has provided me with a new insight into others, especially younger individuals. My heart is so full of the love and support that I have been shown by recruits who were complete strangers when I first began the Boot Camp. My heart is overwhelmed by the amazing love, care and concern that is given to me by Oshun, Rico, Nestor and Mikey, the trainers at the YMCA. My heart has been expanded by the personnel at the YMCA who greet me with smiles and continually make me feel so welcome. My heart is astounded by the outpouring of support that I have received from the staff of the Newsleader and from the readers. I am beginning to think that not everyone in today’s world believes the old saying, “Looks are everything.” All these people have looked deeper than the layers of fat entombing the real me.

Although I have made progress, I am still not in a position to stop. I am still obese. I am still not physically fit. My leg injury from a few weeks ago is healing and I am continuing my journey by registering for the summer session Boot Camp which will include swimming. This 54 year old obese woman is not going down without a fight.

Forget calling an archaeologist, the YMCA trainers, personnel and Boot Camp recruits are the helping to unearth the real Doris Meneses who is entombed in this body.

I am a recruit in the YMCA Boot Camp and others tell me that I certainly do deserve to be there!

Please look for the next article in this series to follow shortly.