Next up for Transformation Thursday is Colleen Myers. Let’s hear what she has to say...
I was always an active kid. I played soccer and basketball, I took dance classes, and I was a member of the swim team. Don't get me wrong - I've never been petite or naturally slim - but I've always been active. When I got to high school, I stopped playing sports, but I got heavily involved with theater. Musical theater, and the accompanying dance classes, kept me active through my high school years. When I got to college, though, I realized that I preferred the director's chair to the spotlight. I transitioned away from the stage, choosing instead to direct or produce, and my fitness level followed suit.
College was followed by grad school, which was followed by a "real world" job. I prioritized my ambitions and my career above all else; my physical health was an after thought. From time to time, I might make a resolution and join a gym, only to waste the monthly fee without ever going to a class; or I'd buy a Groupon deal and never use the classes. My health simply wasn't my main focus.
In August of 2012 - exactly two years ago as of this week, in fact - I was diagnosed with melanoma. At the time of my diagnosis, I wasn't exactly in great shape - but I wasn't at rock bottom, either. I had come to accept that I was just meant to be a bigger girl, and that was okay. The melanoma diagnosis led to surgeries and follow up treatments for several months. Walking more than a block or two became a challenge, so working out was definitely out of the question. On top of that, I was depressed and turning to food to try to deal with my problems. As a result, my weight skyrocketed. When I went for my annual physical in January of 2013, I was completely horrified by the number on the scale; I couldn't believe things had gotten so out of hand.
I joined Studio Poise in February 2013. I had bought a Living Social deal, but I promised myself that this time, I would go to every class --- I wouldn't waste my money and let the classes lapse. Luckily, I managed to hit on something special. I really don't have the words to describe the environment I walked into that day, but I can say without exaggeration that the studio saved my life.
Today, August 2014, is two years since my initial melanoma diagnosis. I have lost over fifty pounds and a total of 44 inches from my body. I feel stronger, I have more energy, and I am more confident in my body's ability to handle physical challenges than ever before. I've met an amazing community of women, people that I'm so grateful to call my friends. These aren't just people that I stand next to in Zumba class. They are people who coach me through a 5K; we text each other when we're having a hard night; we give each other advice, and support each other through our ups and downs. Studio Poise is so much more than a fitness studio; it truly is a place where lifelong friendships are formed.
More than anything else, I offer this as proof that this studio has the power to change lives: Last month, I was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma and I am currently undergoing a topical chemotherapy treatment. While basal cell is significantly more treatable than melanoma, cancer is still cancer: it's a word you don't want to hear and it holds the power to totally rock your world. Instead of retreating from the situation, or letting the diagnosis serve as an excuse to revert to my old habits, I'm choosing to continue to meet my challenges head on. I haven't stopped attending classes; quite the opposite, I've upped my workout routine! I feel like I'm in a completely different place than I was two years ago, and I owe most of that to Studio Poise, to the Instructresses who have guided me here, and to the other members who have become my second family.