Marshae Young had an active lifestyle growing up, when she took weight lifting classes in high school and was a cheerleader. Her life changed dramatically in 2014, however, when the birth of her first child meant Marshae had limited free time, and her focus turned away from exercise. It wasn’t long before Marshae’s sedentary lifestyle caught up with her, and she began experiencing debilitating back pain.
At just 28 years of age, Marshae was diagnosed with a herniated disk, a condition in which the soft, jelly-like center of a spinal disk pushes through a crack in the tough exterior casing of the spine, causing pain, numbness and weakness. When the pain grew unbearable, Marshae sought care at the SBL Center for Interventional Pain, where she was prescribed biannual epidural shots to manage her pain— an alternative to addictive prescription medications.
Interventional Pain Specialist Ragai Mitry, MD, explained that excess weight and inactivity can contribute to the prolonged effects of herniated disks. “Lack of movement caused my weight gain, which caused my back pain. So I needed to lose weight to improve, but I had limited knowledge about how to properly work out,” Marshae recalled. “It felt like the two things were moving against each other.”
Dr. Mitry suggested that Marshae try the four-month medical exercise program offered by the Center for Healthy Living. The WomenConnected charitable giving group gifted her access to the program at a reduced cost. Marshae felt nervous at the beginning of the program, but Exercise Specialist Melissa Pruemer put her at ease. “She made the gym feel like a comfortable place for me,” Marshae said. “Melissa made training fun, and I started to see results early on.”
Before joining the Center for Healthy Living training program, Marshae had gone to gyms and had worked on any machines that she saw. By contrast, trainers at the Center for Healthy Living gave her the knowledge to structure workouts into sessions that focus on cardio health, the legs, arms and abdomen. “With my back injury, it’s so important for me to have correct form, and I didn’t have that before. Now I try to always watch myself in the studio room mirrors when I train alone,” Marshae remarked.
As a single mother of three young children, she has precious little time to exercise, but she makes it a priority by waking up at 4 am nearly every morning. She has found that consistent exercise helps her mental health, too. “Mental and physical health became my priority, and it’s important that I stay consistent to regulate my mind and body. Exercise really helps with that. I feel great about my accomplishments, and now I have a better outlook on life,” she said.
Marshae also met with a nutrition specialist to make goals and to learn about healthy food options for her family. “The most important advice that she gave me was to not be so hard on myself. Eating broccoli with cheese is better than cheese fries.” Marshae said. “It’s better to have some fruits and veggies than none at all. Her guidance taught me to be more forgiving and recognize that subtle changes have long-term effects.” Marshae’s family loves fruits and vegetables. “It’s hard to keep fruit in my house. It’s gone on the first day,” she joked.
Through her hard work and dedication, the Charleston native lost 50 lbs. by the end of the program. She no longer needs numbing epidural shots, and Marshae and her children have more energy than before, thanks to the healthy foods they are eating. She places an emphasis on holistic methods for healing her body. Marshae can even sit cross-legged on the floor and do yoga with her children without pain from sitting on her knees. “I feel good, and my family feels good. I remember on the first day of training, when my trainer had me do an abdominal exercise where I could barely do two repetitions. I said I would never go any further, but now, I can do 25 repetitions,” Marshae said. “I am really proud of how far I’ve come. It’s been a life-changing experience, and I am grateful for my opportunities.”
For more information on the Center for Healthy Living medical exercise program, call 217 238-3488.