- Associated Press - Monday, January 11, 2016

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - When Gail Branner, 63, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, she decided to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Bored with just walking, she saw a promotion for a discounted gym membership at the North Mississippi Medical Center Wellness Center in January 2015.

As the year was coming to a close, Brenner’s goal of working out three days a week was almost complete.

“I’m a breast cancer survivor for three years,” Branner said. “It came out of the blue because there’s no history. That got me into eating better and exercising. I started slow.”

The first time Brenner worked out, she felt pain from overdoing her beginning workout.

“You are going along, and you feel fine,” she said. “I did 10 miles on the bike, and then I was like, ‘OK, I can’t walk down the stairs now.’”

After her breast surgery, her left arm became weaker, so she had to force exercise on her arm.

“No, it’s not fun, but I do it because I want to be able to use that arm in 20 years if I’m blessed to be here,” she said.

She decided to try water aerobics after hearing a speech on how water sports reduce joint pain.

“I don’t like sweat in my eyes,” she said. “If you’re in the water, you don’t notice you’re sweating. You seem to be cooler. You work out harder than you think because you’re working out with water resistance, so you feel it after.”

Branner joined a Zumba class to mix up her routine of walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes. Having a good beat to keep up with helped her motivation.

Halfway through the year, Branner didn’t notice a skinnier figure or weight coming off; she noticed she had more stamina.

Her increased stamina came in handy when she visited her son in Hawaii and hiked into a crater on Kauai, an island that’s part of the Hawaiian archipelago.

She huffed and puffed going up the hills, but she got through it.

Branner made her workout a part of her routine, just like brushing her teeth or taking a shower.

“You get up everyday, and you don’t think about it,” she said. “I just get up. I put on a bathing suit. I pack my bag. I drink a couple cups of coffee, and I go to the gym. It’s a part of what I do.”

There’s one resolution for 2016 she’s had on the back of her mind for a couple years, and now that she’s built her stamina, she said she might be prepared to see it through.

“What I’d like to do is work out more on the Stairmaster because I want to hike the Grand Canyon. I know I can get down, it’s the getting up that’s the problem,” Branner said with a laugh.

Before Allie West joined NMMC Wellness center in January 2015, she pushed her children in a stroller and played with them outside for cardio.

“I wanted to add weights to my exercise,” she said. “We didn’t have a place in our house for a home gym, so it made sense to join a fitness facility.”

She wanted to feel better, sleep better and be able to play with her sons, Ned and Collins, more.

For the first six months, West said she had a hard time getting into a true routine. When she started noticing results, her motivation flourished.

She became bored with working out with just weights, so she decided to work with personal trainer on staff at the wellness center once a week.

West learned from her trainer that weight training was key to weight loss and toning, not cardio. Her trainer made sure to mix up West’s routine to counter boredom.

West’s trainer introduced her to some suspension training equipment, and she developed a new love at the gym.

“That has really motivated me,” West said. “It’s fun and challenging because you are using your own body weight as resistance.”

For 2016, West wants to focus more on what she puts in her body in addition to her workouts at the Wellness Center.

“I also want to be able to do a 5K,” she said. “I want to attend some more of the challenging classes the Wellness Center offers next year.”

After a year of weight training and attending workout classes, West said she has more energy. Even though the scale hasn’t technically gone down a whole lot, she’s lost two clothing sizes.

“I used to dread coming to the gym, but I always felt good when I left,” she said. “Now, it’s on the top of my to-do list for the day versus the very last.”


Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, https://djournal.com

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