I’m so excited to bring you another Real Mom: Transformed story.   Lori and I met several years ago when we were placed into a small group together at church! Not only is Lori an incredible Jazzercise instructor, her home cooking and gardening skills are AMAZING!!  On this first Tuesday in May, here is Lori’s transformation story!

Meet  Lori !

Hi everyone, I’m Lori.

My husband and I just celebrated our 15 year anniversary and are blessed with two girls, 10 and (almost) 12 years old. I work from home part-time doing graphic design and technical writing. It is an awesome job! I subcontract through my best friend and get to “see” her almost every day via video chat as we collaborate on projects. Our main client is a medical device company, so there’s the added bonus of knowing we are creating marketing and training materials for products that can improve and even save lives.

My other job is even more amazing – it is my fun job, my passion, the job I would do even if I didn’t get paid. It also helps people improve and even save their lives. One year ago, I certified as a Jazzercise instructor and it has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. It’s hard to imagine my life without it, but if you told a young me that one day I’d be teaching dance fitness classes, I would never have believed you

Tell us your “change” story

I was never an athletic person. I am terrible at sports and hated exercise in general for most of my life. My physical activity involved horseback riding in high school and college and a brief foray into cheerleading my senior year of high school (in order to get a PE credit and graduate on time, but that’s another story!). Once I graduated college, I decided to learn ballroom dance and began to take lessons. Some friends invited me to go swing dancing one night and it was there that I met my husband, who literally swept me off my feet! We began ballroom classes together and are still dancing to this day.

I was never obese, but I’m not naturally thin, either. I have always had to watch my weight and be careful about what I eat. I was on a rollercoaster – my weight would go up, so I did some kind of extreme diet to get it back down. That lasted for a while, but then the weight would be climbing back up again. It was discouraging and exhausting. The weekly ballroom classes were fun, but they weren’t cutting it when it came to really keeping my body fit and healthy. Also, when I wasn’t on some kind of diet, my eating habits were very poor. I tend to be a stress eater and have a mean sweet tooth (those pint-size ice cream cartons are one serving, right?).

After having my first child, I was blessed to become a stay-at-home mom. A friend invited me to come to Jazzercise with her, and I was hooked. I signed up right away and have been loving it ever since! It was so exciting to actually find an exercise that was FUN. While I have some dance background, you do not have to be a “dancer” to do the workouts. I was able to shed the baby-weight and even workout through my next pregnancy, which made it a lot easier on my body.

There are a lot of dance fitness options out there. What I found different about Jazzercise is the community. I feel like I “belong” there. The people I work out with are awesome. They miss me when I’m not there and I miss them. We care about each other, laugh and sweat together. These are women of all ages and backgrounds, but we have a common goal to be healthy, have fun and encourage each other. And it doesn’t hurt that the workouts kick my booty!

After being a student for over 10 years, I finally decided to go for it and become an instructor. The process involves attending a movement screening and then training for your audition. You are assigned a local mentor (mine was AMAZING – love you, Megan!) and also a training specialist from Jazzercise corporate, who reviews video with you via Skype. There’s a written exam to cover muscles, technique and safety, a CPR certification and finally “workshop.” At workshop, you meet your training specialist face-to-face and spend several hours fine-tuning technique and receiving tons of personal instruction and tips. Finally, you get on stage and literally lead some songs as an audition. You know the end of the story – I passed!

Being an instructor is the best thing EVER. I thought I worked hard before, but it’s a whole new ballgame being on stage and having a class follow your every move. Plus you have to talk and give cues during the songs, so you better have some stamina. There’s no resting between songs or chatting with your neighbor. It is intense. And I love it! It is all worth it, to see my students pushing themselves, getting stronger and fitter, losing weight, gaining confidence and making new friends. My goal is to make people laugh (or at least smile) and to leave feeling sweaty, encouraged and empowered.

What does your normal day/routine look like?

I teach 3-4 classes per week, and spend a couple hours a week outside of class learning new songs and practicing the choreography. I mentioned before that I was a yo-yo dieter. This all changed about two years ago when I joined a Facebook “Slimdown Challenge” group. To join, each member pays $20 for a 12-week weight-loss/healthy lifestyle challenge. There are cash rewards at the end for biggest percentage of weight loss and most points accumulated. For whatever reason, this brought out my competitive side and was something I was actually able to stick with. I participated in the challenges for a year, lost 15 lbs and established some great healthy habits. Between my Jazzercise workouts and new healthy lifestyle, I am off the weight rollercoaster!

Here are the things we did to earn points:

  • Drink 64 oz. of water a day
  • No eating after 9 pm
  • Eat 3 servings of vegetables every day
  • Eat 2 servings of fruit every day
  • Only have dessert/sweets one day per week
  • Keep a daily food log
  • Get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day
  • Have contact with the group once a day (via Facebook or in person)

While on the challenge, I was hard-core and rarely missed any points. I don’t follow all of the rules so strictly now, but here are some habits I gained as a result:

  • Water. I drink a ton of water and have learned to keep a water bottle with me at all times during the day.
  • I really enjoy making green smoothies with lots of fruits and veggies. It’s a quick meal and gives me lots of energy.
  • Less sugar. I eat substantially less desserts and sweets. I learned to say “no” when I’m not hungry and don’t feel the need to have dessert every day.
  • I make it a priority to get my exercise. Even if I’m just taking a walk around the neighborhood with my family, I’ve learned how much better I feel when I move.
Share some favorite recipes or snacks!

I love making dishes with spaghetti squash like Skinny Spaghetti Squash Alfredo (http://fooddoodles.com/2013/01/10/skinny-spaghetti-squash-alfredo/) or Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Spaghetti Squash (http://www.closetcooking.com/2013/12/chicken-enchilada-stuffed-spaghetti.html).

If someone was looking to start their own transformation story, what is one small step you would encourage them to take?
  1. Find some kind of exercise that you enjoy. I thought for years that I hated to exercise, but it turns out I just wasn’t a runner or basketball player or cheerleader. I was a Jazzerciser! Once I found my groove, I was motivated to work out regularly and actually love it.
  2. Get accountability to change your habits. Don’t yo-yo diet like me, but find a group to help you make changes that will become habits and establish a new lifestyle.
  3. Be patient. Don’t expect an overnight change. It took a while to get you where you are and it will take a while to get you where you want to be. Don’t give up!
Some of my tribe and I at Lori’s Friday morning class!!!


Are you local to Westfield?? 

Lori and her friends at Carmel Westfield Jazzercise are offering FREE classes for the month of May!

Check it out!

During Lori’s class on Friday, I was reminded of one of my FAVORITE books, Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer. He writes about being around folks who are living out their calling. When you see someone doing the “thing” they are meant to do and how impactful that can be. Lori was living her calling on that Jazzercise stage. I hope this series inspires other moms to find not only their own transformation story, but their calling as well!

If you are someone who is a Real Mom: Transformed, send me an email (info@smallstepsofchange.com) with details on your story and I may feature you one month this year.
Eat well, sweat often!

I would love to hear from you!!