June 2014: Diane Altounji
“The more I went to class, the more I wanted to keep going back. I have lost 20 pounds and I’m really proud of that. I feel fitter and more confident than I ever have.”
I can’t really remember a time in my life that I didn’t struggle with my weight. I tried “everything,” and by that I mean, I was able to stick to a diet for about a month or two, went hiking 3 times a week for a few months, etc…until I once again got bogged down with work, school, family, life. Nothing ever stuck until I started Zumba. I remember being so nervous at my first class, standing as far back as possible. If I could have taken the class from outside, I probably would have. But a couple things happened. I guess my years of ballet and jazz as a kid weren’t a total waste, and I was actually decent at picking up choreography. When I didn’t get the choreography, I learned to just laugh at myself! And, most importantly, I wanted to come back. I was immediately addicted! The more I went to class, the more I wanted to keep going back. Sandy’s energy helped me push me to work harder, jump higher, and move faster. Coming to class has motivated me to start living a healthier life. And I’ve had the pleasure of doing it with two of my closest friends! I have lost 20 pounds and I’m really proud of that. I feel fitter and more confident than I ever have.
But for me SC Fitness has done so much more. I am a pediatric oncology nurse. I live and breathe caring for children with cancer, helping their families cope through their journey, and supporting and educating the nurses on my unit. I truly believe that I have the best job in the world because I get to help kids beat cancer. They are forever my inspirational heroes. But unfortunately not everyone wins the battle; I have some really sad days, stressful days, emotionally draining days. There are days that our kids are so sick, we don’t sit, eat, or have a moment to breathe until the shift is over. There are days that I am so close to ditching class because I’m emotionally and physically exhausted by what I saw that day, frustrated by the hurdles I faced, and burned out by the many responsibilities of my job. Those are the days that I have to remind myself of how much energy I’m going to get out of class, how healing it will be for me to focus on something other than sick children, and how it will rejuvenate me so I can do it all over again the next day. It is my time to escape, to just think about the next step in the routine, and not dwell on the difficult day I just had.
We talk a lot about the importance of self-care to sustain the work that we do. Everyone at SC fitness, the friends I come to class with, and the new friends I have made in this awesome community are such a huge part of my self-care. Sandy, you truly have the most contagious positive energy. Your effect on my physical fitness is of course so important, but your effect on my emotional health has been so profound, I will forever be thankful! Thank you for your constant encouragement, you are making more of an impact than you know!
I’m in such admiration of your courage to work with children battling cancer. I know it can’t be easy and I know I couldn’t do it. I love that you come to SC Fitness with so much light and surround yourself with friends who keep you in such a positive loving space. All of this is reflected in every move you make in class. You’re always right in front, jumping the highest, and I see how you inspire those around you to challenge themselves to jump right along with you! Thank you for sharing your incredible fighting spirit with me and with our community.