“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

First For Women - - Health -

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

Stephanie Scott, Knoxville, TN

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