News — January 20, 2014

Zumba Fitness Community project with Hattiesburg Jaycees

Getting in Shape and Staying in Shape By Ed Kemp, Hattiesburg American
When asked how many heart attacks he???s endured, Seedy Miller quickly deadpans: ???Only six.??? But it was after the last attack this summer that the retired building contractor received some candid ??? you might even say heartfelt ??? advice from his doctor. ???She told me you need to quit drinking, quit smoking and quit chasing young women,??? Miller, 63, said. ???So I took her advice. I moved to middle-aged women. And now it???s better.??? Actually, he made one other change that got his blood pumping, no easy matter when you consider the eight bypass surgeries and 11 stents needed to keep things flowing. Miller started going to the YMCA three months ago to work out. He feels so much better now that it prompted a resolution for 2014. ???Just try to keep going,??? Miller said. Ah, but that???s the challenge of your typical life-altering resolution. The devil is in that elusive stick-to-itiveness. According to research from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, 45 percent of Americans make new year???s resolutions. Only 8 percent actually follow through in achieving their goals. No surprise on that last figure, according to Tammy Greer, University of Southern Mississippi psychology professor. ???Changing anything you do is very, very hard. People totally underestimate the profoundness of even small life changes,??? she said. ???So when you???re trying to change big things, it becomes even more difficult.??? The reason is simple, Greer, explains. We are creatures of habit, and our habit is not to do the things we wish to accomplish. It takes time and persistence then to create those new routines. It helps, of course, if your big life change involves doing something fun and cheap. Miranda Williams has been teaching weekly Zumba lessons at a cost of $5 per week with the Hattiesburg Jaycees since January 2012. It???s a dance-fitness program that features Williams leading students to the beats of Latin and hip-hop music. ???The music is what really gets you,??? said Williams, a Petal Police Department dispatcher. ???You just lose yourself in the music, and it???s a lot of fun. You don???t even realize that it???s an exercise class most of the time.??? The path that led Williams to Zumba started in 2010, when she resolved to trim her 300-pound frame. She said she lost her first 80 pounds just by walking and watching her diet. She lost the rest ??? 45 pounds ??? through aerobic dancing, and the experience has shaped her teaching style. ???I know what it feels like to be the overweight girl, feeling out-of-place in a place full of mirrors with the lights on,??? said Williams, who previously took Zumba at the YMCA. ???So we dim the lights, and it kind of gives it that comfort level that you???re looking for.??? It also helps if you???re among friends ??? and if your goals are a little more modest than some. Greer said it???s key to have a support system for your goals, stating that friends bring accountability to the equation. It???s also important to be realistic. ???Set a New Year???s resolution, allow yourself to make mistakes and, once you make mistakes, get right back on the path,??? Greer said. Something like that occurs when Miller works out with his pals Dick Underwood and Gary Hartfield every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They???ve just roped in a fourth friend Temple ???Buzz??? Fay, a retired University of Southern Mississippi mathematics professor, for 2014. Fay made his first appearance at the YMCA on Friday, determined to reduce his high blood sugar levels. ???I want to walk ??? and not in 27 degree weather,??? Fay said. They???re all part of a gang that hangs out at a local dive called The Gator. So, after their hour-long workout on the weight machines and treadmill, they head out to the bar and toss back a few pitchers. But they stress this hasn???t offset the benefits of their exercise routine. ???We???re way better than when we started,??? said Underwood, pointing to Miller. ???He almost has a blood pressure now. Usually, it???s like 70 over 40. Sometimes, he???ll get up to like 100 over 60.??? ???Yeah, well, it???s better than nothing,??? Miller said.
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