As the 12 Week Cirque du Rochester Challenge comes to a close, I must say that although it has been a grueling process, it has been one of the most rewarding things I have done in many, many years.
When I first applied for the Challenge, I was a sedentary, way overweight, pack-a-day smoker and heavy coffee drinker who spent more time on the couch than anything else. I was also recovering from a nearly year-long bout of depression following the break-up of a long term relationship. I needed a severe change in my life, and I got it!
The very first thing I did once I was accepted into the Challenge was quit smoking cold turkey! It helped that I contracted an upper respiratory infection so that smoking was extremely difficult to do…and I have been able to maintain my non-smoking status till this day! That is the single most significant outcome of this journey…but only one of many!
My other goals (besides quitting smoking) included:
– becoming physically active instead of sedentary (CHECK)
– gaining more self-confidence by doing something I had never even dreamed of doing (CHECK)
– learning to eat healthier and managing my eating habits (CHECK)
– losing weight (NOT IN AS MANY POUNDS AS I’D HOPED, BUT IN INCHES, SO CHECK!)
– making new friends (CHECK)
The people I have met at the Aerial Arts of Rochester have been so supportive and friendly!! I feel as if I have bonded with the ladies who are sweating and huffing and puffing right along with me– we have cheered each other on, as well as supported each other through our struggles. Our instructor, Will D’Ovidio, has worked us HARD (especially in Cirque Fit), but he has been very patient with us as we sweated and huffed and puffed and fell off the silks (onto the padded mats…no worries!). His “Willisms” have been witty, most notably the oft-quoted “The easiest way to make it harder is…” Will’s sense of humor helps as a motivator when one is just ready to drop from time to time (usually me…).
Patty Palermo-Hedrick, our nutritionist from Love Nourish Live, has also been supportive with her weekly updates, ideas for better living overall, recipes, worksheets, and yummy samples! She has checked in on us through the week on FaceBook and has been available for questions and guidance throughout. Her motivational pic-posts on our FB page have been a fun thing to look forward to each day, and one Saturday we even had a Wegman’s tour!
As for the other members of the Aerial Arts family, they have been our greatest cheerleaders, applauding at our successes and encouraging us to keep moving when the body just wants to drop in the middle of the room. As I look at all the people who are close to my age who are working hard and are being successful with the aerial arts, I am encouraged to continue (I am 51 years old! And when Cirque Fit fell on my birthday, Will helped us all celebrate it with 52 push-ups– one for good luck, of course!).
With all the HARD work, I am seeing results. I have more energy and I actually get out of the house more. With the Challenge coming to an end, it was time for me to make my plans for my after-Challenge life so that I do not lose all the progress I have gained. I will actually go through month to month and write in all my exercise classes that I plan to take as well as my silks lessons in my calendar. These are what I will be doing to continue my progress:
1. I joined the YMCA to swim and take Zumba classes. Cirque Fit is a bit intense for these old bones, and I will feel a wee bit more comfortable in a choreographed dance class where I will know what’s coming next and pace myself better till I build endurance. Plus having the hot tub and sauna on hand is also going to be good for sore muscles. I will also be using the weightlifting equipment to build my strength.
2. I re-signed on for Aerial Silks! My goal is to one day perform a routine to Apocalyptica’s rendition of “Nothing Else Matters”… and I want that one day to be as soon as possible! As I gain strength and become better able to climb and do moves, my confidence will grow. I am a performer at heart (having done many community theatre productions in the area), and so I am now dying to perform on aerial silks!
3. I am juicing and will be doing a 10-day juice re-boot during my spring break next week (I will keep you posted on my progress with that!). Patty has given me great guidance to help with my nutrition, and I printed out every page and put them in plastic sheet covers in a binder so that I can continue to work through the program. I am going to commit to doing a juice fast at least once a year as a re-boot of my metabolism. Ever since I started making juice in the morning (two weeks ago), my coffee consumption has gone to one cup a day. I have also been drinking cinnamon and honey mixed in hot water, and I have noticed a difference in my blood pressure and my stress levels.
4. I am making a visit to the Public Market a part of my Saturday regimen. I’ll buy locally grown produce (to support our local economy as well as to get the freshest product possible) and try to find as much organic food as possible. I am totally re-doing my eating habits because I want to be around for a long time for my family!
5. The ladies and I are going to continue our friendship beyond the Challenge, and we are planning on doing a 5K in June together! I am also trying to convince them to sign up for the Dirty Girl 5K in Buffalo this September… here’s hoping we can do it! I have also made friends with others at the school, and it feels like a circus family! This is truly a great group of people to be around!
6. I will NEVER smoke again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It is amazing how much my life has changed in just twelve weeks! If anyone told me before Christmas that I would be doing ANY of the above, I’d have laughed while pouring another cup of coffee and lighting another cigarette.
Thank you, Will, Patty, all the Challenge Ladies, and everyone at the Aerial Arts of Rochester for giving me a new life!