Meet our Member Rita Sullivan

April 19, 2017


She's lost over 200 pounds one goal at a time!"

Imagine weighing 427 pounds. This was Rita Sullivan several years ago. Rita belonged to another health club and enjoyed taking water exercise classes. Unfortunately her weight made it difficult to tie her own shoes or put her bathing suit on without help. She was fortunate enough to have a friend who was able to help her with these tasks. But one day that friend suddenly moved and Rita was left to fend for herself.

Petrified, she didn’t know what to do and stayed home for three months. Somebody told her about the Fry Family YMCA and how easy it was to get around there. Finally she was able to build up enough courage to come and give our Silver Sneakers Water Exercise classes a try. Knowing that her health depended on her working out she was relieved when she was able to get into her swimsuit by herself. When she ventured out onto the pool deck she saw people of all shapes and sizes. The instructor was Kim Gathman who warmly greeted her, made her feel comfortable, learned her name, and introduced her to the other people in the class. A big act of courage and a simple act of kindness went a very long way that day. Rita quickly adapted and became a regular there.  

After talking to some of the ladies in her class she decided to give one of Amy Marshalla’s Silver Sneakers studio classes a try.  She had heard so many good things about them and was excited to take the next step. But the very first class she attended proved disastrous as people older than her could do much more than her. The most devastating part was that she couldn’t even keep up with a 100 year old woman. She went into the locker room and sobbed. Amy also made her feel welcome, but she decided to stick with the water! Eventually though, Rita became so good that Kim told her it was time to graduate to a regular water exercise class! 

In 2012 Rita made the monumental decision to have Gastric Bypass surgery and then the weight really started to come off.  When she hit the 200 pound loss mark her friend helped her celebrate by buying her a coach purse which she still uses today! The surgery, exercise and perseverance, combined with proper nutrition and drinking a gallon of water each day helped propel her to this goal. But over the years, as with most people, Rita has had setbacks where she’s needed to re-focus and re-start. She found a list that she had written a while ago of 100 things that would happen if she took care of her health. So far she has met over 90 of them! She would put the list away and then periodically take it out, look at it and see what new things she could do. Sometimes she saw that she wasn’t able to do things anymore that she used to do. She wasn’t consistent! These goals may seem pretty simple to most of us, but to Rita they were everything. Some of them are:

This past Christmas Rita got bold and ordered a $15 bathing suit on Amazon because she thought it was pretty. She threw out her old swim shorts and wears the new suit proudly. She has received a lot of compliments on it! So, in January she decided she needed to build up strength and stamina and started working with our Personal Trainer Sandy Fadinelli, doing Y Max Training. Recently an on-line nutritional component, VEEP has been offered to all Y Max participants and Rita logs on daily to track her food. Even though she’s suffered a few health challenges this winter, she is determined to stick with it. She looks at her binder daily and knows what she needs to do. She’s optimistic about her future and what lies ahead.  

When we asked Rita for some honest weight loss advice from the trenches, here’s what she told us:

Rita has a few more pounds to lose to reach her ultimate goal. She also wants to be able to go shopping and buy what she likes, not just what fits! We know she will do it.

And along the way she has become a Y Ambassador, and an inspiration to us all.