Being an Accountant means everything needs to add up. And for Donna McCoy, that holds true as well. As an accountant by day- and now a Salsa in the Suburbs (SITS) dancer by night, Donna McCoy understands the importance of calculating risks and taking the right measures to get it right. Owning your own business and traveling all the time often leads to no time for yourself and unhealthy choices. “When I was young, my mom made sure we had balanced meals and, while she never restricted junk food, there was always an alternative: fresh fruit, etc. So I didn’t struggle with weight as a child. It wasn’t until I was in college and, as it happens, my choices were less about health and more about quick, easy and microwavable. Needless to say, by the time I graduated college, I was well over a healthy weight for someone my age. That, combined with the sedentary lifestyle of an accountant, did not make for a good combination.”
Donna is not a tax accountant but one who evaluates companie’s internal control systems and recommends improvements. And for her own personal health, Donna chose to evaluate her own internal control system and chose to make some improvements of her own. “I actually took my first dance class at Salsa in the Suburbs in February 2014. But prior to that I was realizing my physical health was out of control and my doctor wanted to put me on medicines for this thing and that. It made me really begin to examine my life. I don’t see myself as a person bound by limitations, and yet, here I was allowing myself to be limited by my own actions (or inaction). I couldn’t go up a flight of steps without being winded and there were dance moves that I found hard to do because of my size. These are things that you don’t realize are limiting you until you are free of them and realize you were only living half a life (maybe less). So, I made a decision. The weight must go!! I didn’t care how long it took. I just knew it had to go. I was so resolute when I made the decision that I scared myself a little, because what if I fail? But I decided to approach it like I approached all things when I was younger: the concept of failure had never occurred to me back then because I had never failed at anything. So far, so good.”
Donna states that she didn’t even intend to dance when she ended up at SITS. “I bought a Groupon for classes with the intention of taking Zumba. As it happened, a Beginner I Salsa class was starting that week, so I decided to try salsa since they said I didn’t need a partner. I showed up by myself having no clue what I was going to be doing. Everyone was friendly and there were a bunch of people there just like me: completely clueless but excited about the prospect of trying something new.
The teachers there were so great, I just kept going. I liked that they rotated partners so that everyone danced with a partner, no one was left out and you had a little time to get to know some of the people in your class. I was a little hesitant when Julie, my instructor, said at the beginning of class that it was suggested that we buy special shoes for this. The accountant in me was thinking: What? Another expense? I’m only taking 5 classes (the number I purchased on the Groupon), why would I need to buy shoes? Well, little did I know that 5 classes would turn to 8 (the number of classes in the Beginner I curriculum). I mean, I had to finish, right? The 8 classes became 16, because, hey, if you do Beginner I, why not do Beginner II? So, here I am 2 years and at least 6 pairs of shoes later and I’m still taking salsa lessons. I’ve also completed a Bachata Performance class and am about to perform for the second time on June 18th! I go out social dancing sometimes too, which is a lot of fun. “
“Since my initial endeavor when going to SITS was to take Zumba, I decided to actually do that too, even though I had used up my Groupon on Salsa classes. My first Zumba class was taught by Nicole on Saturday mornings. I had so much fun, I forgot I was working out until I stopped and realized I was sweating (her classes sort of sneak up on you that way). That was nearly two years ago and, to this day, it is still one of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday morning.”
Donna said that she didn’t necessarily set out to lose weight when she first started and wanted to make gradual changes so she began watching her food intake by using the Weight Watchers point system. And now she is down 95 pounds and counting. And with the support of her family, friends and keeping up with regular classes at Salsa in the Suburbs, she has continued her success. “There are only so many hours in a day, so I try not be too hard on myself. I have learned (and it only took me 47 years) that stress is not a friend in a crisis. So, I try to keep my head, make sure I get in some amount of exercise every day, make sure I each fruits and vegetables and try to pay attention to the things I can control, not the things I can’t.
When asked what she would recommend to anyone interested in Salsa dancing at Salsa in the Suburbs (SITS), Donna says, “I say jump in with both feet. They have a beautifully nurturing environment. Whatever level you’re on, they’ll meet you there and take you to the level where you want to go. My one sentence to describe SITS? (I’ve said it before) SITS is my happy place. We are proud of you Donna in too many ways to count!