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How The Y Helped Me Change My Life

Exercise, eat right, exercise, eat right...

From the time I was ten to around fifteen, those were the words that I kept hearing whenever I asked the question, “How do I lose this weight”? Hearing these answers over and over made me not only mad at myself, but mad at how simple everyone made it sound. They said and did these things as if it were their regular, daily lives. For me, it was something that was unattainable and impossible for my weight. That kind of thinking made me realize, if I think like this, then I am a quitter. I didn’t want to be a quitter. I wanted to be one of those kids that everyone else thought of as confident, positive and active. Now, I hadn’t fully realized this new way of thinking until I was about fourteen. Before then, the couch, my bed and my laptop were my three best friends. Well, of course food was too, but back then it was more like a life partner that never left my side or my thoughts. It brought me down and brought my sizes up. As I got older, and bigger, I became a teen that had to shop in the women’s sections of stores, and even online. My self control, as non-existent as it may seem, got out of control. By fourteen, when I came to the long awaited realization that something needed to be done, I took the chance to act upon it.

By the time I was fourteen, I had already been going to the Y for years. I would swim, play a little basketball and yea, go to the weight room every now and then. But, like most kids, I went to hang out with my friends. I loved going there and I hated having to leave. I enjoyed seeing all of the employees with their smiling faces, their pleasant atmosphere and their helpful nature. I never realized that all of the tools I needed to change my life, were at the Y just waiting for me to take the wheel and begin the journey. I began going to the Y not only for the social but the physical experience as well. The trainers helped put me on the right track and they got me up and motivated to change my lifestyle. That was something that I needed to realize too, that in order to change my life on the outside and the inside, I need to make the commitment. My journey, my attitude and my weight...None of those factors could have changed without me taking the first step, and saying, “This is enough...I need to make a change and I need to do it today. Not tomorrow, today”. Making that statement and fully committing to it is what really inspired me to make a change in my life.

I honestly have the Y to thank for that because without them, I never would have seen myself for who I was and know that I wanted improve myself. The Y gave me the tools to workout on my own and to eat correctly on my own. After time, I no longer saw the phrase “Exercise and eat right” as the enemy, because it truly did become a part of my daily life. I enjoy doing physical activities now. I have fallen in love with running and even joined the track team at my school, which is something that I never thought was possible. My confidence and attitude have been greatly improved. I look at everything with a positive outlook now and I enjoy life. Now, I still go to my best friend the laptop every now and then, but it isn’t my main focus like it used to be. And while I still enjoy food, I have learned how to eat right and eat the appropriate amounts of food. Im proud to say that I started my weight loss journey and came out of it beautifully.

Me, Before and After...

My name is Kaitlin Hoagland. I am currently seventeen and with the help of the Y, I have lost 85 pounds. This is how the Y changed my life, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the support and encouragement I received from them.

The YMCA of South Hampton Roads is dedicated to putting Judeo-Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.