I’d been through a lot in 2011 and 2012, dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. I have always struggled with my weight and maintaining consistent exercise and healthy eating habits, but this time was different. Dealing with constant anxiety, nausea, and fatigue, coupled with all sorts of medications that don’t exactly do the weight-challenged any favors, I gained about 40 pounds during chemotherapy. Lucky for me, I have a great primary care doctor, who asked me at the end of 2012 if I was ready to make my health a priority by finding a form of exercise I liked and would be able to do consistently. After a week of agonizing over what sort of exercise I should take up, making up a slew of ridiculous excuses about why I couldn’t or shouldn’t take a kickboxing class, convincing myself that I wasn’t ready, that I didn’t have the money and I didn’t have the time, I quit making excuses, walked into Personal Best Karate and signed myself up. I look back at that first kickboxing class, and can’t believe I am the same person. I remember being discouraged because I couldn’t finish 20 seconds of V-ups, but that didn’t last long. By the time class was over, I was delighted that I finished the entire workout, encouraged by the best mentors and a class full of new friends with shared goals. I joined the 90 day fitness challenge in early 2013, which allowed me to take advantage of the karate classes in addition to kickboxing. Who knew I’d want to take it up a notch? Since starting at PBK, I have gotten stronger, more confident, learned new ways to manage stress, and cleaned up my diet, all while learning tae kwon do forms, self-defense techniques, and sparring skills from the most patient, positive, and encouraging instructors. Master Mansour, Miss Stacy, and all the other PBK instructors really take the time to make sure every student in class understands how to perform the techniques safely and correctly. They answer any questions you have – and sometimes they even need to remind me which foot is my right and which is my left. And get this – I weigh less now than I did before my cancer diagnosis. It’s been so much more challenging and fun than forcing myself on the elliptical three times a week. A few of the newcomers have told me that they’ve been trying to keep up with me during the kickboxing classes. Keep up? With ME?! What a rush that is, considering I couldn’t do 20 seconds of V-ups a year ago! I just hope that I can be as encouraging and inspirational to PBK newcomers who may be making up their own excuses about why they can’t or shouldn’t make their health a priority. It’ll be the best thing you can do for your body and your mind with the greatest bunch of people!