“Dance gave me my life back!”
Debilitating stress and 100 extra pounds left nurse Stephanie Scott, 50, feeling lost. Then she discovered the joyous program that helped her find her rhythm and regain health and happiness
Standing at the kitchen sink, Stephanie Scott tried to silence her quiet sobbing as she heard her adult son walk up behind her. “Mom, I’m really worried about you,” he said as he wrapped his arms around her. “You’re not taking care of yourself. If you don’t do something, I’m afraid something will happen to you. What would we do without you?” At that moment, Stephanie recalls, “I realized I had been focusing on being responsible for everyone around me, but I had been neglecting me. And taking care of me was a responsibility not only to myself but also to my husband and four children. It was the catalyst I needed to make a change.
Stressed and tired
“About nine years ago, my husband was in a car accident and permanently disabled. I became his full-time caregiver while also working full-time as a nurse. I was the only paycheck in the house and the only one with insurance, so everything fell on my shoulders—taking care of our kids, taking care of the house, taking care of my husband. I was stressed and exhausted all the time. My weight topped out close to 300 pounds, which brought constant aches and pains, especially in my knees.
“I was also struggling on the inside. There was no time for me to be sad, and I never had a chance to process my feelings. Instead, when my husband would have an outburst of anger, I had to suck it up and try not to take it personally—I knew it was because he was in pain. For our kids, I tried to make sure life carried on as normally as possible. I would get my husband in his wheelchair, make sure he had
his medication and bring him to the younger kids’ activities whenever he felt up to it. I did my best to be there for both of us, physically and emotionally.
“As a nurse, I knew that exercise would be a balm for all of my struggles, but I was never able to find the time. It wasn’t a priority. My needs weren’t just on the back burner—they weren’t even on the stove! It wasn’t sustainable, but I didn’t know how to fix it.
A fun solution
“After that conversation with my older son, I called a friend, who told me about a dance workout she had tried called CIZE. I’d seen infomercials on television for the workout and always thought it looked like fun. She told me I could do it when I had time and I didn’t need any equipment except for a DVD player. I used to like going dancing before I had the kids, so I thought I would give it a try.
“After my first session, the carpet under my feet was literally soaked with sweat and I thought my heart was going to beat clear out of my chest. I’d had to modify many of the steps because my weight and the pain in my knees prevented me from doing all of them. But even though I was exhausted, I felt a sense of accomplishment and pride that pushed me to try it again the next day.
“As I continued, I started to feel less stressed. The physical movement and sweating released some of the tension, and listening to the great beat of the music helped too. Shaun T, the instructor, was so encouraging, and the steps made me feel sassy—even a little sexy. As a caregiver and a mom, the last thing I ever felt was sexy. There was a period of time that I forgot I was even a woman. But this workout brought that out in me again.
“At first, I worried that I’d be more tired on days I exercised because of the physical exertion, but I started feeling more energized and happier on the days I danced. After a couple of weeks, I noticed my clothes fitting a little better—they weren’t leaving marks on my body. I also wasn’t as achy—going down to the basement to do laundry used to leave me winded, but it started to feel easier.
“I lost around 24 pounds the first month. After doing CIZE for 10 months, usually five days per week, I was down 110 pounds. I started to shake it up a bit, walking, running and even doing the occasional 5K.
“When my husband passed over a year ago— nearly eight years after the doctors expected him to—exercise helped me keep my stress levels in check and be there for my family during the grieving process. It’s really helped me in every facet of my life.
“I recently took my youngest son and daughter to a 5K fun run. They started out running, but quickly stopped to walk. So I would run ahead a bit, then run back to them, and according to my Fitbit, I ended up running about seven and a half miles that day. I was amazed and so proud of myself. I’m healthier now, both physically and emotionally, than I’ve ever been in my whole adult life!”
—as told to Alyssa Rosenthal
“I’m healthier now, both physically and emotionally, than I’ve ever been!”
Stephanie Scott, Knoxville, TN