My name is Andrea Dutton, I am 51 years old and I live in Paris, Tennessee. I have been the IT Manager for a Community Bank for the last seventeen years. I am formerly an overweight couch potato who had a pack a day smoking habit. In 2006, I was diagnosed with MS after going blind in one eye for several weeks and experiencing numbness in my legs.
In 2010, after carrying a bag of garbage outside for pickup, I came back into the house and laid on the floor under a fan trying to catch my breath. I had chronic bronchitis from smoking for 25 years and led a sedentary lifestyle. I realized in that moment that the end of my life was going to be similar to what I was doing at that moment, struggling to breathe. Either I could continue down that path or I could quit smoking.
The next morning, I went to the doctor and asked for help. A week later, I put down my cigarettes and have not had a single puff since June 21, 2010. I did put on some more weight because, let’s face it, the times I wanted to smoke most were right after I had eaten. So, if I never quit eating, I wouldn’t want to smoke, right?
By June 2015, I knew I was home free from the smoking addiction and had been for several years. I decided I was ready to change my lifestyle some more. I was breathing well but still not healthy. I had already joined a gym but was not really losing any significant weight. After research, I choose to eat lean and green. I eat a few good carbs but keep it low carb overall. The weight fell off! I lost 60 pounds by that Christmas. My husband, also my biggest supporter, eats the same food I do and he has lost 25 pounds as well. Once I started losing the weight, I noticed the benefits I had gained from working out. I was carrying my weight much better, I had more stamina and endurance, and I was even able to run and finish in a 5K!
In April 2016, my church burned to the ground. My Dad had preached there when I was in high school and I had been a member pretty much since the late 70s. During the rebuilding of our church, we decided to add on a gym/life center. I started thinking about all the overweight, unhealthy people I met every day just in my neighborhood. I thought most of these people would never join a gym and many did not have the money to pay for classes. Most of the people in my community had also witnessed my transformation. I asked the church if I could hold some type of Christian-based exercise in the new life center. The church was 100% all in.
I started my Google search and found Shazzy Fitness. I found several other alternatives but I kept coming back to Shazzy; it not only looked more fun, but it also gave a better workout than the other dance type aerobic classes, even for a 50 year old like me. What really sold me on Shazzy was the uplifting, Christian music. I sent an email to the Shazzy site and got an immediate response. I decided to take a risk, give teaching a try and I have not looked back!
After certification and four months of practicing, I started my first class at church on January 2nd. We average about 25 people each week and have had as many as 38 in a class. I would estimate that 75% of the people coming to the class are not members of our church – they are members of other congregations or they do not go to church at all. We end each class with prayer and give the donations we receive back to the church for use of the building and benefits.
At the gym one night, someone was talking about how much fun Shazzy was at the church and the manager of the gym asked me if I was interested in teaching a night. I told her I would as long as she understood it would be Christian music. She told me the gym was absolutely fine with the music so we started a once-per-week session at the gym! We currently average about fifteen women and men per class.
My ultimate goal for my Shazzy Experience is to provide an exercise opportunity to those that might not otherwise get out and exercise. Our mission field is outside the church walls and I want to provide an opportunity for the community to come in and use our wonderful new church building that God has provided for improving our health and wellbeing. I have a fear of gaining my weight back so it also keeps me accountable and gives me a minimum of two days a week that I have to exercise.
Am I where I want to be? No, but I am not where I was in 2010. My mom always said that God, in His loving kindness, will meet us at every corner.
He not only has met me but also guided me to the most awesome and wonderful changes in my life and I couldn’t be happier!