Fit For The Adventure - New Beginnings

By Kathleen Zaharuk

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In June 2005, in her early 60s, Joanne Pearce retired from a large, busy retail store and quickly found herself enjoying life as a couch potato. It wasn't long before she was shocked at the amount of weight she had gained. She already had high blood pressure, constant heartburn and nocturia, which had her up to the bathroom several times throughout the night. She realized it was time to make a change.

By autumn, Joanne joined a Full Figured Fitness class at the local recreation centre at Beban Park in Nanaimo. The instructor, Tara, formerly full figured herself, (she lost over 100 pounds) provided much of the inspiration for her class to succeed in their goals. Joanne was motivated, and focused on weight loss.

"I originally measured my success by the pounds lost," she says, "but with that loss came a healthier body."

Once Joanne reached her desired weight, she had a new, improved self-image, which gave her the confidence to join the dance classes held at the rec centre. "What a hoot," she says. "We did western line dancing, salsa, frisky exotic dancing (fully clothed and including a tie!). The dancing turned out to be more than just a great way of exercising. It was fun!"

One of the outcomes of Joanne's new activity was the opportunity to attend a Mind, Body and Soul weekend retreat.

"It was a mind-boggling experience that completely changed my life," she says. "It was a real eye-opener, and I continue to marvel at the strength and courage of the women who attended. There were lots of tears, laughter, hugging and bonding. We were served great meals provided by a trained chef, were pampered with massages, pedicures, facials, manicures, reflexology and even had a belly-dancing lesson. All of this was at a seaside setting."

Healthier and happier, Joanne has a positive outlook on life, living each moment for the moment. She continues to exercise regularly, makes healthy food choices, and has maintained her weight loss for eight months.

"I am going to be one of the 10 per cent who succeeds in maintaining this new lifestyle. By being vigilant, I will succeed. Life is good!"

Sharon Wishart is a full-time piano and voice teacher in Nanaimo. She has an active, busy lifestyle.

A couple of years ago, Sharon was involved in a car accident, which exacerbated pre-existing neck, back and knee problems causing her considerable pain and distress. She was unable to exercise properly, so she found a personal trainer to help her through this challenge. With Tara guiding her, the process toward better health was under way.

Sharon's goal was to become healthier, stronger and gain increased flexibility, as well as lose weight. It was a slow beginning and became a struggle to continue, but she persevered. She has become more comfortable with her co-ordination and balance, and has even found the courage to join a tai chi class, an activity she has always wanted to do.

In April 2006, Sharon and her daughter attended a Mind, Body and Soul retreat at Rathtrevor Beach.

"It was wonderful!" she says. "Lovely company, great food and the activities were so much fun that I didn't even know I was exercising. We did some ‘sexy dancing,' which was super fun! A couple of glasses of wine helped with the inhibitions. We laughed ourselves silly. I also made a wonderful new friend (Joanne) while I was there."

Through encouragement and dogged determination, Sharon is stronger, more mobile and generally has an overall feeling of well-being. In addition, she now takes time out from her demanding schedule to both prepare and eat healthy meals.

"I am most grateful that my trainer never gave up on me," says Sharon. "She has encouraged me to continue on, no matter what! I am really making progress now."

The Mind, Body, Soul Retreat weekends are increasingly popular with women between 40 and 65 years old. Women of all ages are welcome to pursue their mental and physical well-being, as well as take care of themselves through a weekend of pampering. Retreats are usually held from Friday to Sunday.

The next retreat will be held in May 2007 (Mother's Day weekend) at Yellowpoint, south of Nanaimo. The cabins are 60 feet from the water on a private beach with spectacular views. For more information, call 250-618-1271.

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