Carol Gretsch was like many Americans when she tried to lose weight. She'd drop pounds but then slowly gain back the weight.
When she retired from nursing in Washington, D.C., and moved to the Habersham community near Beaufort, she joined EarthFIT gym and started a training regimen. Before she knew it, she was a winner.
Gretsch, 62, won the gym's Fat to Fit contest, where 10 members tallied how much weight they lost over 13 weeks. Gretsch lost 23 pounds. Since she started going in January, she's lost a total of 30 pounds. And she thinks this time, it's off for good.
Her key to success is simple.
"I didn't come to be thin," she said. "I came to be well."
She had done weight-loss programs before with mixed results. It's different this time, she says, partly because she's not focused on losing weight.
A big hurdle to overcome is the desire to drop a specific number of pounds, EarthFIT owner Ian Hart said. Too much can be made of getting to a certain weight. The focus should be on staying fit, and weight loss comes with that. And weight should stay off if a person makes lifestyle changes. The moral -- don't celebrate too much when that weight goal is hit. That's just the beginning of the journey.
"I started doing it because it makes me feel better," Gretsch said, "not because it's what someone else thinks is good."
At EarthFIT, Gretsch started with one-on-one sessions then moved to group workouts three times a week. The point of the full-body exercise is to burn as many calories as possible.
At first, the routine was a challenge. Gretsch had a hard time making it one minute on the recumbent bike without stopping for a break. Now, she's expected to do it at a higher pace for extended periods.
The other big shift was with her diet. She first asked where Diet Coke fit into her new plan. The answer: nowhere. She's cut out artificial foods and eats mainly whole foods, including lots of fruits and vegetables.
Gretsch has found that restricting her diet requires a lot of will power. She equates making the change to the times she takes her nieces and nephews to the toy store. Her nephew always wants everything. But she reminds him that always getting what you want is a fruitless task.
"We all want what's out there, and you have to decide what you actually need," she said.
She's only a few months into her new workout plan, but she has set long-term goals to stay on it. Unlike the unfulfilling weight-loss experiments in the past, this time Gretsch feels like she truly can devote herself to it. When she was working as a nurse, she felt as though she was working at all hours. And it always was about others, never herself. With her career winding down, Gretsch finally felt she could reverse that trend.
"This gave me the opportunity to stop and do something for myself," she said.