It’s easy to put ourselves last, especially when it comes to our own health. Finding your WHY is very personal. It’s not even something you need to share. I am choosing to share my WHY with you because it may resonate in some way.
I’ve been fit and at times, not so fit. I am now 53. I had kids in my thirties and I am five feet tall—five extra pounds can move me to another clothing size!
I was an active child, but not athletic. Dancing and swimming were my main activities. In college I tried racquetball and running but nothing really stuck. I did a little Jazzercise (remember that) and before I knew it, I was a mom struggling with weight more than ever!
Ten years ago Papa reported that Mama was having trouble remembering things. She wasn’t able to put dishes away anymore. This was concerning because the kitchen was my mother’s domain and God help the person who put the mixing bowls in the wrong place! We moved my parents close to us, and over the next two years Mama had mini-strokes and is now in a nursing home unable to walk or complete sentences. My strong, beautiful mother and financial guru doesn’t know what year it is or that her own mother passed in 1976.
Through research, I learned cardio exercise could slow down or even keep memory issues at bay. Not all forms of dementia can be thwarted, but I wasn’t NOT going to try. Enter Spinning. This was something I enjoyed a lot, so I thought I’d get certified. I was 48. I did this because I loved it and I wanted others to love it. I also wanted forced accountability! If people are counting on me, I must be there!
While dealing with Mama’s diagnosis and our new lifestyle, my older sister, who was the beautiful ballerina of the three sisters, started feeling strange. She was having a hard time moving and her handwriting became illegible. We went to numerous doctors and ended up at Mayo Clinic. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. PD is not a death sentence, but it will forever change her life. There are medications, but they aren’t a cure. Before leaving Mayo I asked what she could do to help herself. The doctor said, “Move! Exercise! I don’t mean sit on a bike and pedal, I mean sweat!”
Parkinson’s Disease is a disease that starts when dopamine is not being properly produced. Ever have a runner’s high? That’s dopamine! Never had a runner’s high? Get one!!!
I have two very real and personal WHYs. I also have two children who want their mom around. I have a lot to see and do with my partner Mark, and my excuses won’t help me see or do anything. I keep moving because I don’t know what might happen if I don’t.
To motivate my Spinning class, and keep it real, we started Spinning for someone who can’t. We all know people who are struggling with wellness issues: battling cancer, diabetes, stroke, paralysis or maybe a wounded warrior? Whoever that is, along with your own health, is your WHY!
If you can move freely, move for those who can’t! Send them the energy you are creating as you sweat and get stronger.
Joy Gianakura is a mother of two twenty-somethings, a University Administrator, a Spin Instructor and a wellness advocate who believes that we all have some control over the quality of our lives.