'I Became a Fitness Instructor in My 50s'*


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
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Sue Carson (BCARSON11)
Weight Lost: 71 pounds
Hometown: Richmond, VA
Occupation: fitness instructor

What was your “a-ha” moment that made you decide to lose weight?
I gained the weight over the years by overeating and not working out. I was tired all the time. I felt like I was getting really old while I was still only in my 40s.  By the time I turned 50, I weighed 175 pounds.  Not long after, a friend of ours had a massive heart attack when he turned 50.  He was a few months younger than I was.  My husband is a couple years older and also has a history of early death from heart problems in his family.  We both had borderline blood pressure and were both overweight and out of shape.  We decided if we wanted to have a longer life we should try to correct our eating habits.

Can you tell us about your weight-loss journey?
My husband and I started slowly trying to eat better.  I used SparkPeople.com to track my food intake and learn more about healthy eating.  Then, our son was home for the holidays and pointed out that we needed to work out if we wanted to really be healthy.  My comment was "I'm too old to start that!"  However, we joined a gym, and we both went every day.  My husband liked to use the machines, and I preferred group exercise.  It was about 6 months before I started doing strength training, and I saw an amazing difference. I had already lost quite a bit of weight, and adding weight training really toned things up.  It took over a year to reach my first goal, which was just at the upper end of my "normal" weight range.  I continued to work out and eat healthy.   Now, at age 66, I weigh just a little more than I did in college and am much more toned.

What type of fitness routine do you follow?
When we moved to a smaller town, there weren't many good group exercise classes available.  So, I ended up getting certified in the field of fitness in several different areas while I was in my 50s, but I didn’t stop there. At age 60, I took up pole exercises and am now an instructor.  Then, at age 65, I decided to try aerial silks, which is even more challenging than pole.  I enjoyed it so much that I now teach an aerial hammock class. I love doing all kinds of things most people my age wouldn't even think of doing! I hope to keep up my workout schedule for as long as I can. No one at the gym or studio can believe how old I am! 

Sue, before:

In what ways have your eating habits changed?
In the beginning, we just ate smaller portions and tried to cut out bad snacking.  As we continued, I learned about eating healthy.  For example, we gave up fried foods.  I didn't get really picky about the eating thing until I was trying to keep it off.  Now I am always getting more and more particular about what I put in my body. I try to eat small healthy snacks between meals so I never get too hungry.  Plus, we eat a lot of veggies and fruit.  We eat fish and chicken and occasionally have red meat, but not even once a week.   When we want beef flavor, we have found that venison done in the crock pot with tomatoes and veggies tastes just like a beef roast but has much less fat. 

What are your favorite healthy food and/or meal?
Since I spend most of the morning at the gym, I want a breakfast that would stick with me.  I have never been able to make myself like oatmeal.  Finally, I discovered a combination of yogurt and oatmeal that I call "pina colada oatmeal."  I use a 6 ounce low-sugar yogurt, 1/4 cup pineapple, 1/4 cup uncooked quick oats, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon imitation coconut flavoring, 1 teaspoon ground flax seeds, and 1 teaspoon chia seeds.  I stir and then add a little unsweetened almond/coconut milk.  I microwave for one minute and eat!  It's quick to make, and I love it.

What advice would you give to someone just beginning a weight-loss journey?
I've come a long way, and you can too--no excuses that you're too old or too out of shape! Unless you are sick or have a disability to prevent it, I believe anyone who really wants to can do it.

Congrats, Sue!

*Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

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