That would be me, Sandy. Hola!
Who am I? Just a gal from Chicago who moved to Mexico to live in the tropics, found her soul mate, and living happily ever-after in southern Mexico! I am part of an amazing global exercise ministry called WholyFit. We help people get fit – body, soul and spirit, and we work hard to fellowship and encourage each other across the seas. But the real question for this blog is: why is Taco getting fit, and/or what motivated her? Aha! Now that is a story in itself. Let me tell you the tale…
May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it! – 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 MSG
10 March, 2010: This is the year in Mexico of celebrating revolutions. It is the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s independence from Spain (more accurately, the beginning of that revolution to gain their independence), and the 100th anniversary of the Mexican revolution (Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata’s claim to fame). Two years prior, I was studying for an exam on Mexican history in pursuit of my citizenship; I joked that Mexico was due for another revolution in 2010. As a Mexican by blood, by marriage and by choice- with my new citizenship, I decided to take matters into my own hands and turn my ‘prediction’ into a reality: In that year -2010 – I started my own revolution, ready to be a Warrior. That would not be difficult for me; I have the spirit of a warrior and I just happen to live in the Mexican state of Guerrero, the ‘Warrior’ state. How fitting, right? So fitting, I was ready to get fit… Wholy Fit!
Huh? What? Hey Sandy- have you looked in the mirror lately? – were the words that echoed in my head. Yes I had, and I tried not to cringe or let my out-of-shape body bother me, and most importantly- remember always WHY I started this revolution; why I was taking on this new challenge. I would NOT think of myself as a 46-year-old out of shape, overweight woman who trying to look like she is 25 again, and I will kick the devil in the butt each and every time he attempts to tell me otherwise. I was just a woman who was ready to be a warrior in body and soul; one who knows that what happens on earth happens in heaven, and I was getting myself prepared.
Exercising should be simple, living here in the tropics. Although I live near the beach, you would think I would be swimming all year round. But… I do not know how to swim. I almost drowned as a child, and never went back to lessons as a result. Oh sure – I go snorkeling form time to time; my independent, fearless spirit takes over with the motto: As long as I have a life jacket or a best friend near by to hold me hand, I will try anything in the water! I just never got around to taking swimming lessons.
I have had my share of trial and error with exercising. I owned a handful of exercise DVDs that I occasionally did faithfully; those phases never lasted long. I had put weight on and off since I was 25 (before which I could eat a horse, only gain 5 pounds and loose it the next day by doing nothing), but never anything significant. For the next 10 years, I occasionally looked in the mirror and decided I need to work out to get a better-looking body, but my mind always changed when push came to shove, as I felt vanity vs. health was my motive and I didn’t feel that was a good reason to get in shape. I won’t bring up the fact that I am sugar-coating the fact that I was just too lazy . That was how I ended up with my handful of exercise DVDs, among which was a yoga DVD.
I remember taking yoga as an elective in grammar school, and enjoying it. Later, as an adult, I toyed with taking classes, but the whole New Age part of it always turned me off.
I finally broke down and bought a yoga DVD to just learn the moves, figuring I would do the stretching but stay away from the empty-head meditation and weird chants. I have never been one to chant or say things without knowing the meaning behind it. The DVD was basic, but I never got further than 10 minutes without giving up. My body just would NOT bend the way the instructor’s did, some of the postures just plain hurt (which lasted for a week), and I was not into pain for gain. No big deal; my clothes still fit me and as I rarely look in the mirror, any visible fat on my body went unnoticed; no big deal.
I learned later in research that certain yoga postures were harmful for the general public. Golly gee whizzikers, I am not as unique as I once thought; I am officially the general public… But at least I could claim that pain as being from a contraindicated exercise and not from being ridiculously underfit!
Then, something wonderful happened. Over the course of one summer, I sat with my butt glued to a chair and typed away on my laptop for 4 months straight cranking out 5 books, surviving on a strict diet of sky-high carbs that included a gazillion bags of potato chips. My clothing no longer fit, as I had managed to gain 20 pounds (wow, how did that happen???). We all know God can move mountains, and I am living proof of His ability to move hills: He moved the round hills once called my buttocks, made that area quite flat and put those hills together and placed them on my thighs, hips and stomach.
At the same time, something else wonderful happened: I got word that the company I had been working for for the last 5 years would not be returning to Ixtapa; I would no longer have my winter job. I praised God for that, knowing that He was about to open a new door for me; I just had no idea what that was going to be. I was quite surprised when I got the call that the owner of the local Curves was actively looking for me; she had heard I was no longer employed and was anxious to hire me. Yes, me, who had no experience in a gym, be it as an employee or member. All I knew is that I knew in my heart that God was opening a new door for me, and I was not about to shy away from that – regardless of my skills.
At Curves, I saw an employee teaching customers how to do a few yoga stretches in lieu of the normal cool-down stretching on the Curves poster. It looked really dangerous to me. Was it was my recent painful experience, or just a tap on my shoulder? Not being a fitness pro (not even the kindergarten variety), I had no idea if I was right, but I did know I had to find out.
I went straight to Google, and found WholyFit – a Christian alternative to yoga. ‘Awesome!’, I thought. I ordered a DVD; my mom was coming to visit us and she could bring it with her. What I did not see was the part that said ‘pre-order’… I had to contact WholyFit to stop shipment (so that it wouldn’t sit on my mom’s porch for 2 months), and through that communication I met the founder, Laura Monica. What an awesome, lovely soul, and we hit it off right away.
Suddenly, I heard myself blurting out, “How do I become an instructor?” – It was like a stranger had taken over my mouth and I had lost control. Seriously – I felt as if the real me was floating outside of myself, looking down at this klutzy lunatic in my body with no exercise experience whatsoever who suddenly decided ‘Hey – I think I will be a fitness expert today!’ – Laura informed me that instructor training was just about to start online… I signed up, and the Revolution began!
In my head, I am a graceful artist who moves elegantly, like a ballet or flamenco dancer. The reality is that photography shows exactly that: REALITY. The photos show quite a different picture of what my overactive imagination says.. .
WHERE DID THOSE BAGGY THIGHS COME FROM? And speaking of bags, how did those rather large pieces of luggage under my eyes get there?
Graceful poses, I might not yet have in reality, but my middle name is Ann, which means ‘Grace’, and at times I do live up to that.
I am very much able to gracefully trip over air. I like to refer to it as having magnetic toes. Testing the laws of gravity.
In the WholyFit training, we learned the Ephesians 6 routine – the Armor of God. Very fitting for a Warrior!!! We had to upload photos of ourselves doing the various postures. I have never enjoyed having my photo taken; that part was more difficult for me than actually teaching my body to bend. Photography can be so severe – and quite in contrast with my overactive imagination. My mind tells me that my body is moving with the grace of a ballerina…. But the photos painted quite a different picture! It truly was – and is – a great tool for learning.
Take a deep breath, drink plenty of water, jump in and PRAY!
I asked my prayer warriors to please pray for guidance and that my eyes always look straight up and not straight at the mirror. I will not deny that it will be awesome to have a body in good form once again, but that is NOT what I wanted this to be about. I wanted this to be about doing something for God first, my health second; I wanted it to be about learning a new way to help others.
I leave you with a question (and my own response):
Can an overweight 46-year-old woman learn to bend and stretch? – Of course she can!
And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26