My view of wellness includes an emphasis on exercise and maintaining an active lifestyle, something I never did until I turned sixty.  My advice?  Don’t wait until you are sixty.  And, if you are sixty, or over, get started now.  It’s never too late. Be as active as you can be.

My birthday, in February, 2008, was a turning point for me.  Not only was I turning sixty, but I was unhappy, overweight, and experiencing a lot of stress at work and at home. My father had died when he was fifty- nine of heart problems.  I knew I needed to do something.

 I decided to start exercising by taking advantage of the student recreation center at the university where I worked.  I didn’t even know where the gym was located, even though I had worked at the university for twenty- nine years.  I had never been to any gym.  I wasn’t sure I could do this.  I thought I would feel awkward and out of place; a middle aged fat woman amongst all those twenty something physically fit students. My inner voice kept telling me this would probably not work, but I was desperate. I wanted to be healthy.  Somehow, I walked through the door.  It changed my life.

After a few months of riding an exercise bike (the only piece of equipment I could really manage), I realized I liked being at the gym, didn’t feel out of place, and wanted to make more progress. The bulletin board over the drinking fountain showcased a poster that proclaimed “You DO NOT NEED TO DO IT ALONE.”  It was an advertisement for working with a personal trainer, and, even though I thought it might be too intense for me, I knew I needed help, and signed up.    

 I had the good fortune to be assigned a wonderfully talented trainer, Alex Miller, a student in exercise science. He worked with me for the next three years, patiently, and professionally, helping me take on the challenges of treadmills and stair climbers, pushups, leg presses, Romanian dead lifts, squats, walking lunges, the TRX, battle ropes, and even boxing.  Before working with Alex, I never knew what most of this was, let alone think I could do any of it.  I had always accepted a self-imposed limited view of myself. I was not very athletic. I was not a gym person, not a runner, and certainly not a weight lifter.

Through it all, my trainer always supported me, encouraged me, and challenged me to do more. Gradually, through hard work, I lost weight, got stronger, and learned a powerful lesson. I was not the person I thought I was.  I have athletic abilities. I can do things I never let myself imagine I was capable of.  This knowledge has transformed my life.

As of today, I have lost eighty eight pounds, and am working on losing the last two.  I recently ran in my first 5K, and am working towards running in a 10 K.  I work out every day, lift weights, take group fitness classes, continue to work with a trainer (I’ve been fortunate to work with three very talented trainers so far).  I have more energy, am stronger, and have dropped 6 sizes in clothes.  Even more astounding to me, is that I now find myself looking at my life very differently, pursuing different interests.   I joined a memoir writing group, and I’ve decided to become a personal trainer. I want to learn more about how the body works, and I’m thinking about earning a degree in exercise science.  I see myself with new eyes, and I realize that I can be more than I thought I could.  This is empowering. This is wellness.   Exercise brought me to this point, and it can for you, too.         

Sherry Williams is a contributing author to the book entitled "Voices of the Great Plains: A Collection of Short Memoirs" edited by Jerry Masinton & Nicole Muchmore available here for purchase.

I think you give too much credit to your trainers personally but I like the grace behind that, the modesty. I love this blog. I love how it reminds me that it's not too late to make big changes. Bravo!


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