The YMCA, Ensuring a Brighter Future

Nathan Dethlefsen

'Y Gives Him a Healthy Foundation For Success'

In the pool at the Y, Nathan Dethlefsen feels ageless and weightless. Swimming laps, water jogging, or doing an aerobics class, Nathan says these activities provide a great escape from his healthy challenges. More importantly, exercising in the pool nearly every day at the Y, gives him the consistency he needs to continue making positive changes.


"There's a meditative part of swimming that I really like," says the 42-year-old Nathan. He sports goggles and breathes deeply through a snorkel, which places him in a cocoon-like, healing atmosphere. Despite the relaxing comfort, Nathan works hard to achieve his goals.


Four years ago, Nathan joined the Y to regain his health. "I was a little hesitant at first to come here, but I've had nothing but positive experiences," says Nathan, who has shed more than 30 pounds. One of his goals is to keep losing weight to qualify for hip replacement surgery. He plans to walk again someday without using his canes.


The weight loss has taken him longer than he expected. He shares that he's battling many medical obstacles, as well as the difficulty to quit smoking cigarettes and to make good food choices. Working with a nutritionist has provided him a lot with a lot of education. "It's been a practice in patience," Nathan says. "I have to be okay with this process."


New friendships formed at the Y give him confidence and support. Since he consistenly hits the pool the same time each day, he gets to know other members regularly working out. Sometimes, Nathan admits, he'll talk more than he intends. Many Y members can relate to the social perks of going to the Y. Belonging to a positive community of like-minded people brings many health-enhancing benefits, along with the physical benefits.


When Nathan joined the Y in 2008, he had recently returned to La Crosse for family support with his medical challenges. He is grateful for his family - his mom and stepfather, Jane and Greg Drogseth, his siblings, and his father, Bruce Dethlefsen - for their assistance and encouragement. Nathan also is fond of visits with his 98-year-old grandfather, Eddie Jakusz.


The opportunities at the Y for improving one's life are abundant, including the arts, and Nathan has taken full advantage. A piano at his grandfather's home inspired Nathan to take lessons offered at the Y. He's long wanted to pursue piano lessons; he enjoyed 11 weeks of classes and hopes to study more music in the future.


Nathan considers his main responsibility, however, to improve his physical, mental, and emotional health through working out, which gives him a strong base. "If I exercise regularly, everything falls into place for me," he says. "It provides my foundation." When he exercises consistently, he can think more positively. He makes better food choices and smokes less. The fact that Nathan has gained this self-awareness is a huge accomplishment and gives him courage to dream about having a family and working in a job he enjoys. For now, Nathan patiently takes one day at a time to consistently exercise and to build the foundation for a successful life.


- By Kim Seidel, Seidel Ink LLC. 2013