Member Spotlight: Miles Dowdy

Author: Miles Dowdy, First Coast YMCA member

In December of 2021, I stepped on the scale and saw something I’d never see before: 300 pounds. Going up the stairs was becoming difficult and I couldn’t keep up with my son the way I wanted to. The body that won state football and wrestling championships had morphed into something I didn’t recognize. With a daughter on the way, I knew a change needed to be made.

December 2021

The YMCA at Flagler Health+ Village was just around the corner and my son was already involved with their football and soccer programs. When I decided I was going to start this journey, the YMCA was a simple choice in how I was going to get there. Getting set up as a member is easy and they meet you wherever you are on your fitness journey. They have a little bit of everything, and it was a place my family and I could all go to together. My wife would go to a spin class while I would do my traditional workout and I knew my son was being taken care of through the YMCA’s childcare program.

As much as I wanted this change to happen in my life, I needed to start slow. It was a journey I took day by day, and it wasn’t easy. In the moments where I felt I was not doing a work out correctly or just needed some guidance, the YMCA staff was there to help. The services they provide along with the genuine support they have for their members sets them apart from your typical gym. Over time, the YMCA has truly become family to us.

Through hard work, dedication and consistency, I successfully lost more than 100 pounds. While the number did change, the scale is not what I focused on. In fact, I think it’s what hurt me in previous efforts to lose weight. This time, I focused on how I was feeling and watched the physical changes in real time. That shift was essential for me mentally and kept me motivated. Through this journey, working out has become habitual and has brought back a sense of competitiveness that I had been missing. My motivation originally was to just change my health and body; now I see it as a part of daily life while connecting with the amazing YMCA staff.

For those looking to embark on this journey, the most important thing is not to wait. This is something you have to do for yourself, and while you can be your biggest motivator, you can also be your biggest obstacle. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to begin. Finding the inspiration in yourself to make this a consistent change in your life will be the first difficult step.

October 2022

Making a change as big as this isn’t something you can buy at the store or find a magical answer online; it’s based on the hard work you put in and you have to realize there will be ups and downs. One thing I needed to overcome and still struggle with is the anxiety of simply walking in the door. Pulling up to the parking lot is intimidating, but I have to remind myself that everyone is here for similar reasons as I am. Pushing yourself one foot forward every day and finding encouragement in the small victories is key.

It’s okay if you’re unsure what you’re doing when you embark on this journey. We learn more from doing wrong than from doing right. The important thing is that you tried and that’s what the YMCA is there for. If you have a question, they will be there to find you an answer; you just have to ask. It’s like going to the grocery store and not knowing where an item is. Even if it’s something you want, but don’t ask for help, you’re just going to walk out of there empty-handed.

Now, a year later, my life has forever been changed. I want to thank all the amazing employees at the YMCA at Flagler Health+ Village for being there every step of the way.

To learn more about the wide range of programs and services the Y offers, like the Exercise is Medicine program, 12-week weight loss program, registered dietitian services, personal and small group training, and more, visit your local branch or log onto the Healthy Living page on the