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

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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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KHALIA2 2/23/2019
Believe it or not, I have never had a weight problem. My dad used to tell my sisters to hold on to me so that the wind wouldn't blow me away. Report
Inspirational story! Love it! Sue looks fabulous! Report
Sue, you look great. I wish I lived closer to you so I could take your class. You are my hero. Report
In the last year, I've lost a lot of weight and become so much stronger. I was tempted to try aerial silks but thought that at 38 I might be too old - thanks for proving me wrong, and helping inspire me to pursue this, :) Report
I'm 53 and I have a disability but I'm still doing it. So just put your mind and effort into it and you can do it. Report
You are a fitness goddess. Thank your for inspiring me today, I am in my 50s. Report
I am 49... and always believed I could start over and be healthy and fit... You are proof that it can be done! I am on my way... I still have about 65 lbs to go... and I need to get going on the fitness end of it! You are an inspiration!!! Report
Yours is what I consider to be the most amazing blog I have read on Spark. Your photos tell it all too. Totally a fantastic role model you are!!! Report
Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story. Report
Fabulous, motivating article! Thank you for sharing your journey Sue. Your breakfast recipe sounds interesting/good so I'm copying it and giving it a try this weekend. I loved your story and will check out your page! Report
Wow, I'm impressed. I'm 52 and that was so inspiring. I'm fixing to follow along. I have also "wanted" to be a fitness instructor, but never been motivated enough. Here I am at 5'1" and weighing in at 189. I'm going to make today a new promise to be that healthy in my 60's. Awesome job. Report
WOW! I was truly inspired by your story. I was thinking at 50 I may be too old to lose this weight much less find a career in training or coaching others. Thanks for sharing your story. I know I can do this now!!!! Report
Just what I needed to read this morning! Thank you for sharing your story! I now feel as if I too am able to accomplish my goals! :) Report
Thanks for the wonderful motivation! You are an inspiration. All the best! Report
You are amazing and for the people that have told me (older people can't lose their weight) I can for sure tell them, Your wrong! And thanks for sharing your story Report
Your awesome Sue! I lost 80+ lbs between 2009-2011 and now I am back up 50 lbs because of 2 back surgeries. I am only 25! Your inspiring me though! Thank you! Report
Amazing story!! I loved reading every bit of it! Your enthusiasm is contagious!! Thank you for the inspiration and motivation!! Report
thanks, I needed to read this. I turned 50 in December, and I am obese and feeling much older than my age.
I turn 60 in six months and found your story very inspiring. Congratulations on all you've achieved. Report
Well done! Report
Thanks for inspiring me & many others, Sue!! I've been feeling "old" & letting that discourage me, but instead I need to focus on all I have to be grateful for, like my health!! Keep enjoying each day!! Report
Love your story - thanks! Report
All I have to say is WOWWWWWW! Amazing! :) Report
I appreciate you sharing your story. I am 58 and my very fit husband is 65. I struggle to stay in shape, and he can eat anything and never changes. You give me hope that I should hang in there ! Thanks Report
Amazing story, thank you so much for saying how good life is now! Report
wow.....now that is an extremely inspiring journey. I also feel that it is never too late to do anything as long as you have the desire to succeed. Keep at it Sue! Report
I absolutely love this story! I just turned 40 a few months ago and over the past couple of years my energy levels are going down and I finally feel like I am older now. I didn't use to think I was aging but I don't eat as well and have gained a lot of weight.Just joined this yesterday and have been feeling down this lifted my spirits and gives me some hope. Thank you for the amazing story. Report
WOW.... what an inspirational story! I've been telling myself I need to get back in shape. I'm on vacation and just decided 5 days ago to give up sugar. When I return home next week, I'm starting back with my exercise program. I was very consistent before I left, but it's not always convenient when your in another state and not at my home gym. Although I did work out a few times. Now it's back to Yoga 3 times a week, strength training 3 days a week, I'm starting my running and swimming program as well. My goal is to run a half marathon one of these days very soon hopefully :-) I am 57 and wanna stay fit! Report
Very inspirational Report
I. Love that you and your husband worked together and you do such unique activities very cool Report
Great inspiration! Hats of to you!
It is not often I can find a weight loss story for someone in my age range - 64 so it is encouraging to hear that all is not lost as we get older. Like you I still feel young and want to continue to be healthy into me old age - never really getting old. Report
I enjoyed your success story. I can't wait to find out what mine will be like. :) Report
Thanks so much for your story about turning it around in one's mature years. Just started my nutrition and fitness turn-around this week. I am 60 and at least 80lbs overweight and have let myself become completely sedentary. I have aches and pains and high cholesterol. But my husband and I invested in a good home treadmill and use it daily. Plus, I have begun consciously eating again. With daily walks of increasing duration and difficulty - along with spark tracking of my food - I hope to be in great shape a year from now. I count on success stories like yours to keep me inspired. Report
WOW!! Very inspirational! Report
Congrats on all your accomplishments. You look fantastic!
And you inspire us all. Report
Oh my god! You rock and are an inspiration! I want to do what you did. Always have. Just too afraid, but thanks to you, I'm going to take the first step and join a class like you teach! That just looks awesome! Report
Your story has inspired a lot of us in our 50's to keep going. Report
You have an inspiring story for older men and women who think they are too old to change and get healthy. Thanks for sharing. Report
Congratulations!!! You look amazing!!! Well done!!! Report
OMG!! First, congrats on your sustained weight loss. Second, thanks for being an inspiration to me. I'm always looking for new adventures and opportunities to get my friends to try new things. I just researched an aerial conditioning studio in my area. I'm booking my birthday party there next month!! Thank you, thank you, thank you. Report
Sue WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What an inspiration you are.
The before & after picture do not even resemble each other. To change your lifestyle so drastically is amazing !
You look so fit & you must be SO strong to do those routines. WOO HOO to you !

Okay, no excuses for me today after reading this. Report
Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. You are an excellent role model for all women of all ages.

I am completely floored that you attempted and now teach the aerial class. I tried out an aerial conditioning class for the first time last week. Some of moves I never thought I could do, but to my surprise I was hanging upside down with my shoulders only wrapped in the hammock.

Again, thank you for sharing. You are an inspiration! Report
Thank you for sharing your story. You are an inspiration! Report
Sue - I just turned 58 on July 8th and I know exactly what you mean by feeling waaay too old! Your testimony is very inspiring to me - and it really helps me conquer my fears about starting a real exercise/fitness program at my age to know that you did and look at everything you've accomplished! Way to go and please update us again on your continuing success - I need to borrow from your amazing successes!! Thanks so much! Report
You are AWESOME!!! Thanks for reminding me that the only barriers we make are the ones that we create! Keep moving! Report
WOW!!! Thx for sharing! Report
An amazing achievement , you have encouraged me in a huge way! Report
Congratulations for achieving your dreams of fitness and health, and thank you so much for sharing your inspiring story. My daughter loves aerial dance, and I've thought I was too old for it myself, but clearly not! Report
Amazing and inspiring! Report