You know how most kids rebel with alcohol and drugs? I rebelled with candy and junk food and being totally, completely sedentary. I was always a chocolate lover- cookies, M&Ms, ice cream- it was all good, especially when you’ve got a seven year old’s metabolism and have the skinniest body on the block. But when I was in fifth grade, I started pudging out. I remember being acutely aware of my burgeoning chubbiness and being self-conscious of it, attributing it to newly-attained “baby fat.” I was enrolled in dance class once a week, and I was TERRIBLE at it. So that was that. In my early teen years, my mom started going out on Sunday mornings to “Yvette.” I didn’t know who or what Yvette was, but my mom brought me back a donut when she was done, so it was fine by me. Soon I started hearing about how great Yvette was- how she was so kind and sweet, how the workouts were so much fun; it didn’t register with me. Workouts couldn’t be fun. Laying on the couch reading and eating candy was fun. The older I got, the more my mom started to push me. “You should come check out Yvette’s classes.” “You’d love kickboxing.” Ok, mom. Please move; you’re blocking my Oreos. Then I went to college and I was known as the girl with the candy drawer. I hated my belly pudge but I loved Kit Kats more, and homework was the ideal excuse to avoid that run my best friend wanted me to join her on. My mom kept mentioning Yvette, I kept seeing how many Three Musketeers bars I could fit in my mouth from my seat on the couch. I graduated college, then grad school. I learned to dress my body in big, baggy shirts and jeans to hide my tummy; I found my style and stopped being self-conscious because more fabric was my friend! I met my first serious boyfriend (hooray!) and learned to bake and kept on being self-conscious, but he loved me just as I was, so I continued on my merry path. All the while, my mom kept eschewing the benefits of exercise and Yvette’s classes and crew in particular. Ok, mom, that’s great. Please move; my Sour Patch Kids are behind you. Then came the fateful doctor’s visit; it was my rock bottom. I weighed 167lbs, heavier than I had ever been, and my good cholesterol was low because I simply never moved. The threat of cholesterol medication loomed over my head at 23 years old. Point taken, I threw myself a 24-hour pity party and my mom and I joined Weight Watchers together. On diet change alone, I lost twenty-five pounds and then I slowly but surely gained it back. I tried a bunch of different exercise options but nothing stuck. I joined Work Out World and went on the bike for a half hour every other week. I bought a bicycle and neglected it so badly that my neighbors thought it was abandoned and painted it. I bought a Fitbit and went for walks to the ice cream store to hit my step count for the day. I was clearly nailing this exercise thing. Then Aaron and I got engaged (hooray again!) and the dress was all we talked about. Simply put, I was finally motivated. One morning in February, my mom approached the subject gingerly, “You know, Linds… If you take a class at Yvette’s gym you’ll probably firm up your belly and that little jiggle in your arms.” I hemmed and hawed and looked for snacks hiding behind her (animal crackers, not so appealing) and finally I gave in and pledged to go for one class. It was a Saturday morning. I got up early and cursed out my mother from three towns over. I walked in and picked my spot and I just remember how unbelievably welcoming everyone was (no matter, I had no plans of staying here long). I remember giggling at Cris’s silly jokes and staring at my feet in confusion when she told us to step back with our right leg (Which one is my right leg? What are you expecting me to know at this ungodly hour?). I remember liking everyone and feeling no judgment but staying guarded- I was clumsy, chubby, uncoordinated, and anything heavier than a five pound weight felt like lifting a boulder; they were all lifting tens overhead like it was nothing. I remember almost-falling down those three front steps because my legs were now made of jello. I remember not being able to sit on the toilet until Thursday that week. I remember telling my mom, “This is all your fault.” But I also remember knowing I would be back the next week because I never back down from a challenge and I was begrudgingly falling in love with exercise. A few weeks passed and I had a breakdown; I would never see results if I did this once a week. So I signed up for Cris’s Monday night class and Sandy’s Wednesday afternoon class (which later turned into my beloved, never-missed training sessions with Sandy). I was committed and I was going to make this happen. Slowly but surely I started looking forward to my gym days. I started relishing the soreness I felt. I knew I would walk into my classes and laugh until I cried and whine about burpees and feel relief when we got to deadlifts. I looked forward to seeing my workout friends and my weekly “therapy” sessions with Sandy. I helped pilot a Boot Camp program in my preschool and, just like my mom before me, could not stop eschewing the values of my newly-found happy place. I have not yet met a single person at YSF who I did not instantly like. I have not yet met an exercise I couldn’t tolerate (though I’m still not exactly friends with leg lowers). Unfortunately, I started giving myself an excuse to eat junk again (I worked out- please pass the Doritos!) and when I decided to go back on Weight Watchers I found unbelievable support in Cris, Sandy, and the entire YSF family. (I also essentially bought my house in the middle of a Monday night workout, but that’s a story for another time. YSF is a magical place where women get stuff done, clearly). Not a day goes by where I am not thankful for all of the women at YSF. I am thankful for sweet, kind texts from Yvette, for laughs with Cris, for Sandy’s never ending patience and creativity with my workouts. Walking through the front door and into that big green room, I feel like I’m home. (And I’m eternally thankful for my mom for getting me through that front door to begin with.) Now please move, you’re standing in front of my protein shake.