100 Lbs Later: How I Dance Away Life’s Challenges

“I was brought up in an abusive home because of my father. When I was 9, he went to prison and I had to begin telling people my story. Food became my comfort and all through my teenage years I struggled with emotional eating and gaining and losing weight constantly.

When I was 19, I found myself pregnant before I was married. Being that my mom had joined the mennonite community, she gave me two options: get married or raise the child on my own. I married someone I had only known for 6 months. We moved to another state and within five years, I was pregnant with my third child. My marriage was hanging by a thread and I had gained 100 pounds.

I needed to lose weight. I found Zumba for the Xbox Kinect and instantly connected with the music, since Spanish was a subject I had studied in high school. But I didn’t feel I had the support I needed at home, so I tried a live class. I realized I LOVED Zumba classes.

I loved the feeling of joy and the feeling of letting go of all that troubled me and just letting loose for an hour. In June of 2014, after losing 50 pounds by being a Zumba student, I committed to becoming an Instructor and started teaching just two weeks after I got my license.

By now, I’ve lost 98 pounds, even with going through extremely hard struggles. My marriage ended, I had to move, my son has behavioral issues, and I had serious financial difficulties. I say this all because I want everyone to realize that no matter our circumstances, if we let our emotions out and feel them instead of hiding them, we CAN live a thriving life. I was an emotional eater and I overcame this because Zumba taught me how to feel happy. I encourage all my students to let out their feelings and get lost in the music in every single class. I want everyone to know that your inner happiness is within you and you can find it.

I will forever be grateful that I took that live class a few years back. I am changed for the better.”

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– Rachael Blankenship, licensed Zumba® Instructor; lost 100 pounds through Zumba classes and has discovered her inner crazy, happy energy

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