In 1998, I filed for a divorce after 21 years of marriage. I feared the unknown. Could I make it on my own? What would be my destiny?

In the beginning, I was stressed out and losing faith. Financial obligations and worrying aobut my five children (then ages 9 to 18) left me vulnerable and unhealthy in body and spirit. I held on to negative thoughts and feelings and allowed myself to be overwhelmed by them.

I gained 20 pounds in the first two years after my divorce. I weighed 184 pounds and had a body mass index (BMI) of 35, qualifying me as obese. I was also suffering from the autoimmune disease fibromyalgia, which can cause muscle pain and fatigue, and sleep apnea, which was made worse by weight. I needed to clear the clutter from my life and focus on my health.

In August 2005, I took the first step by joining the Donelson-Hermitage YMCA in Nashville. My children swam and played basketball at the Y when they were young, but I never gone there for myself. I started doing kickboxing and yoga, and kept going because the instructors helped me with the movements and made the environment nonthreatening.

Over time, I gained faith in myself and challemged my muscles to go where they hadn't been. I felt energized! Determination became my mantra. I eventually felt confident enough to try Pilates, power cycling, step aerobics, Boot Camp and strength training on weight machines.

I improved my body by working out at the YMCA, and I did the same for my mental and emotional state through daily spiritual practices. Through both Christianity and Eastern religions, I found ways to surrender my burdens to a higher power and focus on becoming healthier. Spiritual time to myself helped me discover my inner strength and focus on the future.

My yoga classes were especially beneficial. Yoga integrates the mental and the physical planes, offering a sense of inner and outer balance or alignment. True alignment means that the inner mind reachers every cell and fiber of the body. For me, this meant that I became more in tune with my boady and gained control over negative thought patterns and stress.

With the help of the YMCA, I balanced my overall outlook on life and improved my fibromyalgia and sleep apnea symptoms. Plus, I lost more than 40 pounds and lowered my BMI to 22. After three years, I still get out of bed early and. after meditation and prayer, head off to the YMCA for my inspiring exercise programs.

Author's Bio: 

Carol S. Batey Lifestyle Coach for two years helping those who want a personal transformation. She is the author of "In Due Season: Destiny is Calling Your Soul."