Dancing Off the Pounds
Two women who struggled with weight loss have turned to salsa dancing to help them keep off the pounds and they have found a new zest for life along the way. Cathy Moretti and Monika Barman, who take dance lessons at Salsa In The Suburbs Dance Studio, say they feel more energized and more self-confident since shedding unwanted pounds following gastric bypass surgery.
It has changed my life completely. – Cathy Moretti
The two women say dancing has been extremely therapeutic, helping them to cope with personal loss and chronic problems due to their weight. They have widened their circle of friends and found an inner peace on the dance floor.
Since they’ve started salsa dancing, Cathy and Monika don’t ever envision stopping. These two salseras definitely have happy feet, devoting about 10 hours or more each week to Latin dance. Dancing has become an integral part of a momentous lifestyle change, and it’s registering inwardly and outwardly, through their smiles, their attitude about themselves and through a new outlook on life. And neither of them envision stopping.
“It has changed my life completely,” says Cathy, who began taking ballroom dance lessons in 2009 after her 37-year marriage ended. “The family that I have made at Salsa In The Suburbs have all been part of my journey. Dancing is therapy. When my soul is hurting, dancing makes me feel better. Dancing makes me feel alive. Dancing makes me feel better about myself, has helped develop my self-confidence and has helped me find me,” she says.
Coping with Other Losses
Monika, who was coping with the loss of her mother, Elaine Barman, also found salsa dancing therapeutic.
“I didn’t start dancing for emotional healing but that’s what I got out of it. It helped me through this rough patch of my life. It was exactly what I needed to get out of the slump and refocus my energy. I didn’t think it was going to play such a big part. Life has a funny way of working out. Through all this grief, all these wonderful things happened to me. I see myself doing this as long as my feet will let me,” Monika says.
Her life changed drastically after her mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January 2012. “It was like an A-bomb went off in my world. My whole life changed.” The elementary school teacher helped care for her mother and was contemplating whether she should move ahead with gastric bypass surgery, which, according to the Mayo Clinic, is preferred in the United States by doctors over other types of weight-loss surgery because of fewer adverse reactions.
But Monika felt life was passing her by and that moved her to action.
“I always had it in my head to get back to dancing. Because of the weight, I was just sitting out of life. I wanted to get back to the things I loved to do. I think that’s what my mom wanted for me,” Monika says.
Both women are extremely happy with their lives after surgery and continue to control their diet and dancing is their main means of regular exercise. Neither would have guessed they would derive so much joy from dancing and believe they have found a lifelong passion.
“You don’t feel like you’re exercising” says Monika, who lost 83 pounds since January 2012. “For people who hate to exercise, this is the thing to do. It’s fun and entertaining rather than the chore of exercise. You don’t think about time like when you’re on a treadmill. You think about the steps and the dance.”
Cathy promised herself that she would start dancing after shedding 50 pounds. “That’s something I always wanted to do all my life. I was never confident enough to do it. Once I did, I realized how much I enjoyed it.” In all, she has shed more than 120 pounds.
“Dancing makes me happy. It’s my happy place. When I’m dancing it gives me a chance to express my creativity. I am blessed to be a part of Julie’s dance family at Salsa in the Suburbs. They have shared my journey with me. Dancing makes me feel good about myself. This is something I will do until I physically can’t do it anymore.”
Monika says she has found the friendly atmosphere at Julie Berger’s dance studio, now in its fifth year of operation, to be warm and inviting. She enjoys the company of people of all ages and diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and varied personal circumstances, from those who are single, like her, to those who are married, and those
who have retired.
Monika not only noticed that she has more energy, but feels more confident and has become a better dancer since returning to the studio for regular dance lessons. “It’s just part of my healthy lifestyle,” she says.
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