Heather McLain told herself that for her birthday this year, she would make some changes in her life. Managing a home-based business and raising two young children, she was struggling to lose weight and to get her high blood pressure under control. When Heather visited the Lampeter-Strasburg Y to register her daughter for swim lessons, she saw a flyer for Project Pounds Away (PPA) and signed up on the spot. This spontaneous decision was a life-changing moment for Heather and the beginning of a story about much more than weight loss.
PPA is a 16-week program that pairs small teams with Y personal trainers, in a weight-loss competition based on fitness, healthy eating and social support. Heather’s first PPA activity was to run a mile and she felt like she would never make it; but along the way, she and her new teammates stopped to encourage each other and took their first steps toward fitness and friendship. Heather says, “I would not have had the confidence to try exercise classes like Zumba and Body Pump without the positive motivation and support of my teammates who would say ‘Let’s try this together!’” They would push each other to do more, or stay longer and over time they connected in and out of PPA – sharing common goals and life experiences.
Heather’s transformation has been a family affair – they share healthy meals and her young daughter holds her feet while Heather does sit-ups, shouting out “Go Team Black!” Heather’s children also come with her to the Y; she praises the caring attention they receive in Child Watch and believes that PPA works in no small way due to the Y’s support for working mothers. She also finds encouragement in unexpected places – from high-fives at the Welcome Desk to tips on technique from fellow members. Heather feels invested in the progress of others she’s met along the way – from the seniors doing therapeutic exercise to the group of school kids she sees working out together.
Heather finished the PPA competition in second place, with a 40 pound weight loss (and counting) and healthy blood pressure. She is now participating in the PPA Maintenance program, along with some of her fellow teammates and friends. Just five months into her Y membership, Heather continues to fit right in, taking on new fitness challenges with the support of her trainers and seeking out opportunities to connect with other Y members who may need some encouragement of their own. Heather started out to lose weight – what she gained by doing so at the Y is a new-found confidence, a life in balance and a supportive community where she continues to thrive.