In what little spare time she had, she supported her community in Queensland, Australia, where she assisted the local children’s playgroup, mothers’ support groups, and various school committees. But nothing filled her heart with more happiness than looking after her brood and running a loving household. A big part of that was ensuring a healthy home-cooked meal was dished up every evening.
With the usual horrible symptoms: weight gain, sleeplessness, anxiety, and mood swings, she began feeling really down and turned to comfort eating. Carolyn feasted on pizza, pasta, chocolate, and ice-cream, and started drinking more to beat the blues. Yet, it only made her feel even more depressed and upset.
Carolyn also felt terribly unattractive, and she shielded away from socializing — something that she’d once loved. Although her husband never said anything about her weight, Carolyn’s confidence was in free fall. “Keith was always supportive, but I’m sure he tired of me complaining about my size and lack of fitness,” she admits. “Life was busy but I loved it,” the grandmother of four remembers. “But somewhere along the way I was so busy caring for everyone else, I forgot to care about myself.”
When her children Rebecca, 37, Scott, 35, and Kate, 33, flew the nest and started families of their own, Carolyn jumped at the chance to be with the little ones whenever she could. “I loved being a grandmother and wanted to spend all my spare time with them,” she says.
But with just her and Keith living in the house, home-cooked meals became a rarity and were replaced with unhealthy takeout. Then, menopause set in. The bigger Carolyn got, the harder life became, and it was tough keeping up with her young, active grandkids. Plus, finding clothes to fit her size-20 frame was getting harder. “I had to start getting my outfits specially made as I was so big,” she says.
At 49, Carolyn felt like a “failed, frumpy old woman." Then, tragedy struck. Jenny, her dear friend of 14 years, died after a battle with breast cancer. She was just 46 and a mother to three children under 20. “She slipped away at such an early age, yet she had so much ahead to look forward to,” Carolyn reflects.
Jenny’s untimely death made Carolyn take a long, hard look at herself. She realized with her bad habits spiraling out of control that she too could be heading for an early grave. “It made me realize how fragile life is,” she says. “And I wanted to be around for my grandchildren.”
She decided to take control of her health once and for all with her weight at 253 pounds. She stopped drinking alcohol, cut out the junk food, and loaded up on fresh green salads, lean meats, and steamed veggies. Keith had never struggled with his weight but adopted Carolyn’s new eating habits to show his support. Next, she mustered the courage to join a gym and employed a personal trainer three times per week to keep her motivated and focused.
In no time she started to lose weight, and she began to feel fitter than she had in years. “The feelings of anxiety and depression started to fade,” she says. “My overall mood was positive and I had a higher opinion of myself.” She says the best part was having the energy to keep up with the young ones. “I really enjoyed going to the park or chasing them around the yard,” she says, beaming. “It felt wonderful.”
A year later and Carolyn had lost an absolutely astounding 66 pounds! She fit comfortably into a healthy size 14, she ditched her specially made outfits, and updated her wardrobe with new, trendy looks. She was a new woman. In fact, Carolyn was so enthusiastic and inspired by her new life, she decided to launch a new career and became a personal trainer! “With my own experiences, I wanted to offer support, guidance, and motivation to women from all walks of life,” she says.
She had a home gym studio built, and her business, New Horizon Fitness, is now flourishing. Carolyn works with women who are overweight, stressed, cancer survivors, or regaining their strength and fitness after injury or illness. Every day is rewarding, and her entire family is enjoying her newfound passion for life that’s come with her clean bill of health. Her grandkids — Josh, 18, Ryan, 11, Layla, nine, and Poppy, two — are especially proud of their fit granny.
As for Carolyn, she’s excited for what the future holds, and is looking forward to being around to celebrate and enjoy many family milestones. She strives to be a good example to her business clients and family — especially her beloved grandchildren. She says, “While none of us will ever be perfect, we can perfect our lifestyles.”
This post was written by Katie Skelly. For more, check out our sister site Now to Love.