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Zumba Transformed My Body--I lost 90 Pounds and Counting!

Natombi Simpson believed that she'd never be less than a size 24. Now she's a size 8!

Height: 5'4"
Current weight: 158
Heaviest weight: 248
Lightbulb moment: A milestone birthday made me face reality: I didn't recognize myself in photos.
Biggest benefit: Shedding my fat-girl mentality and helping others do the same.

Natombi Simpson's Story
I've always struggled with my weight. I was a chubby kid, reaching a size 10 by the time I was 16 years old. I knew I needed to lose weight, so for the next 2 1/2 decades, I kept gaining and losing the same 20 pounds, adding more each time. I didn't know how to cook healthy, and I hated to exercise.

As I neared 40, I weighed 248 pounds and had high blood pressure. The extra weight drained my energy, and I felt like I couldn't keep up with the demands of being a wife, a mom to my teenage son, and a high school teacher. My office is on the third floor, but I couldn't even take the stairs to get there. I was treating my body like garbage, and that's how I felt.

Time for a Change
That January, I made a New Year's resolution to enjoy my 40s. And to do that, I knew I needed to start investing in my health. Fast-forward two months and all the healthy changes I was so solidly committed to were falling apart. Working out was torture; I didn't enjoy the kickboxing and step aerobics classes at my gym. At more than 200 pounds, I wasn't able to keep up with my thin, fit classmates. While I managed to drop a few pounds, I didn't see or feel any real difference. I felt like I was sweating my heart out, but then I'd see a picture of myself and think, Hey, I still look fat. I began thinking that my body wasn't designed to be any smaller; a size 24 seemed to be my fate.

That spring, during one of the aerobics classes I was still forcing myself to attend, one of the ladies invited me to stay and take the next class with her. It was Zumba. I knew it had something to do with dancing, which sounded fun, so I decided to give it a shot. Thinking that I'd be embarrassed, I snagged a spot in the back corner, but soon women of all ages and sizes--even big ladies like me--started filling the room. I was so thankful that I wasn't the only woman with curves, and I instantly felt more comfortable. 

Dancing Off the Pounds
After my first class, I started going to Zumba two or three times a week. It was the perfect antidote to my hatred of working out because it didn't feel like exercise--it felt like a big party! Unlike kickboxing, this was something I really enjoyed, so I put more effort and intensity into each class. Soon I began to see the results I wanted. I dropped 15 pounds in 3 months! Not only was all the cardio burning calories, but the choreography also helped tone my arms and core. I felt so great about myself that I started making other healthy changes too. I watched my portions and ate more fruits and vegetables. By the year's end, I'd lost 50 pounds!

After 2 years of dancing my way to a new me at Zumba, I decided to become an instructor in hopes of inspiring other people to get fit. If I could shimmy and shake when I weighed 248 pounds, so could they. 

A New Outlook
Thanks to Zumba, I've lost a total of 90 pounds and dropped to a size 8--the slimmest I've been since my teens. When you're heavy, you often have a fat-girl mentality that is just as burdensome as the weight. Even if you can physically do something, you tell yourself you can't or don't deserve to. But I no longer feel like the fat girl; I feel like I can accomplish anything! Oh, and those three flights of stairs at work? I jog up them now!


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