For one Westchester resident, showing up and putting in the work are keys to fitness goals


 Westchester resident Dena Vatcher has achieved fitness goals she that thought were impossible just a few years ago. By making fitness a priority, Vatcher has dramatically improved her physical and emotional health. This month I am sharing her story in the hope of inspiring you to transform yourself in 2015.

Although active as a kid, Vatcher preferred reading to sports. As an adult, her exercise routine consisted of basically nothing, except the occasional run.

A car accident in high school left her with chronic lower back pain and she exasperated the condition when she hurt her back again by moving boxes and couldn’t walk for three days. She visited chiropractors and was able to get by, but her back pain remained a constant issue.

If Vatcher did anything out of the ordinary her back would “go out” and cause significant pain, which is difficult for a teacher who is on her feet all day. As a result of putting her young children in and out of car seats, her shoulder was in almost constant pain. Also, before she started lifting weights and working out consistently, she was in a deep funk and often felt emotionally down.

A few years ago, Vatcher noticed her weight had risen to a place that was unacceptable to her. This realization motivated her to take action and seek out a personal trainer and make a lasting commitment to fitness.

Since then, her daily life has changed in many ways. Most importantly, Vatcher says she is significantly happier. She actually enjoys working out, and exercise has changed her outlook in major ways.  She is happy she is doing something positive for herself and proud she has stuck with the change for over two years.

“My back is pain free about 98% of the time, and if I am consistent about using my foam roller at home, it’s nearer 100%. I haven’t had shoulder pain in well over a year,” said Vatcher.

“I feel strong! I can handle physical tasks that I couldn’t before, like moving couches, carrying boxes, picking up my kids. My cardiovascular strength has increased as well, and I can keep up with my kids. I can run alongside while they ride scooters and not be winded. I am able to have fun doing active things. That’s a change for sure. I bought my husband and I tennis racquets for Christmas. It’s exciting to think of playing again.”

For Vatcher, it’s the little victories along the way that have helped her reach her fitness goals and keep her motivated.

“Highlights of my fitness journey are mostly related to the goals I set and achieved this past year. I did 43 pushups in honor of my forty-third birthday and jumped rope for 2.5 minutes without stopping. These two goals connect to the strength and cardio fitness that I recognize in myself,” said Vatcher.

“The biggest highlight for me is just that I keep showing up every week. I made a promise to myself that I wasn’t in it for a ‘quick fix’ and that I needed to invest the time to try and change my pattern in life of not working out and I have done that; I am now a person who works out. It’s part of my self-definition and part of my life.  That in and of itself is a highlight for me.”

Although she knows her fitness quest isn’t over, Vatcher is confident that with a little hard work people can reach their fitness goals.

“It seems silly to me that I would be giving anyone advice about working out, since I still feel like a beginner. But if I had any advice for beginners, it would just be that no matter how far you feel you are from your fitness goal, it is possible to reach that goal.   I didn’t really believe that I could do what I saw other people doing,” said Vatcher. “Now I see that little changes over time add up to big accomplishments.  For me it is essential to have a trainer since I know I still wouldn’t be consistent on my own.”

For Vatcher, the most important goal has always been to just “keep doing it.” Keep showing up and keep putting in effort. She says working out has become a non-negotiable priority in her life. She now enjoys the benefits of that commitment on a daily basis.

Congratulations Dena on making a fitness commitment and transforming your life…one step at a time!

By JEFF BLAIR (M.S.). Blair owns a personal training studio located in Westchester. He was voted “Best Of” Personal Trainer in the Hometown News 2012, 2013 and 2014 Readers’ Poll. Jeff has been featured in “Men’s Fitness” magazine five times and as a “Fitness Expert” on ABC’s “Everyday Health” TV show. Email for fitness story ideas or comments.

Posted January 2015.